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Angola: Activism in danger in a election year

Angolan youths protest in the capital Luanda – Euro News report YouTube (screenshot made by the author)

A few months before August, when elections will be held to choose a new President, freedom of expression is increasingly in danger in Angola. According to the US State Department's Human Rights 2021 report, published in 2022, Angola is experiencing moments marked by illegal or arbitrary executions, forced disappearances, inhuman treatment, and restrictions on press freedom.

It should also be noted that after successive protests by activists and opposition parties against the new electoral law, new demonstrations took place once again in the capital Luanda. However, as has been recurrent on other occasions, the police prohibited the demonstration on 9 April from taking place and arrested some of the activists in the past.

Since yesterday, information has been circulating about another aberration of the @MPLAoficial crushing machine: the arrest on the sidelines of a demonstration of Laurinda Gouveia and HER 6-MONTH BABY! The PNA does not deny this arrest so we must assume that it is (sur)REAL!

One of the first reactions against the act of detention came precisely from an opposition party, the Democratic Bloc (BD), which said:

Estes ativistas cívicos foram presos, porque pretendiam dar início à uma manifestação contra a Indra (empresa selecionada para gerir o processo eleitoral) e pela libertação dos presos políticos, no dia 09 de abril, apesar desta ter sido convocada nos termos da Constituição e da Lei da Liberdade de Manifestação e as autoridades competentes terem sido atempadamente notificadas do facto.

These civic activists were arrested because they intended to start a demonstration against Indra (the company selected to manage the electoral process) and for the release of political prisoners on 9 April, despite the fact that it had been called under the terms of the Constitution and the Freedom of Demonstration Law, and the competent authorities had been notified in due time.

According to various sources, the demonstrators were arrested illegally and held in prison without the right to a defense as stipulated by law. The 22 activists were taken to court days later, where they were summarily tried, as Human Rights Watch researcher Zenaida Machado illustrates:

Still at the trial, the lawyer said he had been humiliated by the police when trying to contact the demonstrators. Therefore, on 14 April, it was already known the sentence that dictated that two young activists were sentenced to 40 days of fine and 60 thousand kwanzas (130 euros) of judicial fee for the crime of disobedience.

The remaining 20 defendants were acquitted for lack of evidence. However, Donito Carlos, spokesman for the organizers of the demonstration, regretted that the two young men were sentenced to a fine for disobedience.

Ficamos tristes quando vemos um juiz altamente instrumentalizado pelo regime maquiavélico a condenar os dois. Sabemos que são resistentes da liberdade de expressão.

We are saddened when we see a judge highly instrumentalised by the Machiavellian regime condemning them. We know that they are freedom of expression resisters.

The activist warned, on the other hand, that young people were not intimidated and announced that demonstrations for the release of political prisoners would continue.

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