Angola: Authorities must tolerate critical views amid pre-election protests

Authorities in Angola must uphold people’s rights to exercise their freedom of peaceful assembly and expression, Amnesty International said ahead of a planned protest against the imprisonment of seven activists.

In recent years, Angolan authorities have frequently used the police to suppress public protests
Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa

“In recent years, Angolan authorities have frequently used the police to suppress public protests. Demonstrators are often arrested, imprisoned and even ‘disappeared’ for expressing themselves,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

“Public demonstrations should not be used as an opportunity to punish views that are critical of the government.”

Tomorrow’s protest in the capital, Luanda, will draw attention to the case of seven activists who were arrested and imprisoned for participating in a previous protest calling for transparency in August’s presidential election.

They were sentenced to 45 days in jail for “crimes of rebellion and criminal conspiracy”.

Demonstrators are often arrested, imprisoned and even ‘disappeared’ for expressing themselves
Deprose Muchena

Information gathered by Amnesty International indicates that the seven were not given a fair trial. There are also reports that they were beaten and suffered other ill-treatment during their arrest.

Amnesty International is calling for these allegations to be independently and effectively investigated.

Background

On Saturday morning, demonstrators in Luanda will march from Cimangola Deviation to the Municipal Court of Cacuaco, where the seven activists were tried and sentenced.

The seven, Adão Bunga "MC Life", Nzunzi Zacarias Mabiala "Luston", Valdemar Aguinaldo “27 de Maio”, Paulo Mabiala "DMX", António Mabiala, Mariano André and David Salei, were reportedly beaten and arrested on 17 April during a protest calling for transparency in the upcoming election.

As well as being sentenced to 45 days in prison, they were fined 65,000 kwanzas (US$390) each.