Angola: Detained activists must be immediately released

Angolan authorities must immediately and unconditionally release a group of activists arrested in Luanda on 20 June 2015, Amnesty International said today. The organisation believes that the arrest of the group is a ploy to suppress dissenting voices and freedom of peaceful assembly in the country.

The more than a dozen activists were arrested in Luanda where they were attending a meeting to discuss human rights violations and governance concerns under president José Eduardo dos Santos, who has been in power for the past 36 years.

This is yet another attempt by the Angolan authorities to intimidate anyone who has a differing view in the country. The authorities must immediately and unconditionally release the detained activists, who are prisoners of conscience, and stop intimidating human rights activists
Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa

Police have also carried out searches without warrants and seized IT hardware from homes of some of the people they suspected of taking part in the meeting.

The country’s interior ministry has since released a statement, accusing the arrested activists of preparing to disrupt public order and public security of the country.

Angolan academic and journalist Domingos da Cruz, who was going to give a lecture during the meeting of 20 June, was also arrested. He was arrested on 21 June 2015 in connection with the meeting in the country’s countryside.

By detaining human rights activists who were meeting peacefully to discuss human rights violations and governance concerns the Angolan authorities are further undermining human rights in the country and effectively closing the space for dissenting voices. This is unacceptable
Noel Kututwa

Background

Suppression of dissent is not new in Angola. In November last year, Amnesty International released a report, “Punishing dissent – Suppression of freedom of association, assembly and expression in Angola,” detailing how Angolans who dare challenge President José Eduardo dos Santos’ rule by demanding accountability have been killed, forcibly disappeared, arbitrarily arrested and tortured by security forces.