Blood Diamonds: Letter to President Dos Santos
Human rights defender Rafael Marques de Morais sent a letter to president Dos Santos, in his capacity as the highest magistrate in the country, on February 15, urging him to take action on human rights abuses.
In the letter, the author denounced the failure of the Attorney General’s office in investigating cases of assassination and torture in the diamond-rich provinces of Lundas, in northeastern Angola. The Office of the Attorney General is, by law, a branch of the Presidency.
Last November, the attorney general’s office notified Rafael Marques de Morais that it had shelved the criminal complaint he had lodged a year earlier against nine generals, after a preliminary hearing.
As body of evidence, Rafael Marques de Morais filed his book Blood Diamonds: Torture and Corruption in Angola, published in Portugal in 2011. The book detailed cases involving the murder of more than 100 people, and more than 500 tortured.
The denounced Angolan generals are shareholders of the diamond company Sociedade Mineira do Cuango and of the private security company Teleservice, which had responsibility for much of the crimes committed. General Manuel Hélder Vieira Dias “Kopelipa”, Minister of State and head of the Intelligence Bureau at the P presidency, leads the group of accused generals. It also includes Carlos Alberto Hendrick Vaal da Silva, inspector-general of the General Staff of the FAA [Angolan Armed Forces]; Adriano Makevela Mackenzie, head of the Directorate for Training and Education of the FAA; Armando da Cruz Neto, governor of Benguela province; António dos Santos França “Ndalu”, MPLA member of Parliament. Currently inactive generals João Baptista de Matos, Luís Pereira Faceira, António Emílio Faceira and Paulo Pfluger Barreto Lara complete the group.
These generals, in reaction, had lodged a criminal complaint against the author and his publisher Tinta-da-China, in Portugal, for slander and defamation. Early in February, the Portuguese judicial authorities dismissed the generals’ complaint. The ruling stated that the book’s content is of public interest, and it is protected by freedom of expression and freedom of information.
The letter delivered to president Dos Santos last week is only the last of a string of attempts to take the Angolan authorities to investigate the serious human rights violations taking place in the diamond areas.
On January 9, a delegation of traditional authorities, representing the Lundas provinces, traveled to Luanda to deliver a petition to the Attorney General of the Republic, general João Maria Moreira de Sousa. The chiefs denounced the systematic violations of human rights in their communities and urged the magistrate to reopen the case.
The attorney general’s office used fabricated news, planted in the controversial weekly newspaper O Continente, to issue a statement against Rafael Marques de Morais. It used the deceit to make public that it would not reopen the investigation, despite the petition delivered by the Lundas’ chiefs (sobas).
“When the Office of the Attorney General, the very institution charged with defending the rule of law, behaved in such a callous way, as using false news to attack citizens in the State media, we can only imagine the degree of absurdity and the irresponsibility of the people that run such an institution. It is simply ridiculous,” said Mr. Marques de Morais.