Relatives of Political Prisoners Decide to go Ahead with Protest

The mothers, wives and sisters of 15 Angolan political prisoners decided to appeal against the decision of the governor of Luanda, Graciano Domingos, who banned the march organised to take place on 28 August. The women vowed to take to the streets anyway.

“We are not going to sit and wait for our sons [to be released]. We really are going to march. It is our right”, stated Adália Chivonde, the mother of prisoner Manuel Nito Alves, and one of the petitioners.

“The police can beat us and send in the dogs against us mothers. During the march on 8 August, the police broke one of my toes, this time they can break one of my legs, but the march will go ahead”, she vowed.

In the new petition, which was lodged with the governor’s office today, the organisers of the march gave notice of the decision to “hold a demonstration on 28 August around 15.00, in Largo 1º de Maio [Independence Square], but with no procession or parade”.

Last week the vice-governor, Jovelina Imperial, representing the governor, issued a banning order in response to the women’s earlier request to hold a march in support of their relatives. Ms Imperial referred to the Law on the Right to Convene and Demonstrate, using arguments that had never previously been used by the provincial government.

The document states that “Article 5 of the referred law sets limitations on the exercise of the right to convene and demonstrate, where timing is concerned, explicitly defining that ‘processions and parades may not take place before 19.00 on week days’”.

A legal expert told Maka Angola that the governor failed to see the difference between protest rallies and processions and parades, even though the law makes provision for demonstration procedures. The governor used this pretext to ban the protest, which was ,scheduled to take place on President José Eduardo dos Santos’s birthday, and which was set to culminate with a vigil in Maianga Square, a little over 2 kilometres from Independence Square.

However, by changing their plans from a march to a static demonstration, the petitioners hope to have “surmounted the legal objections preventing the demonstration taking place”. They request “that the referred ban on holding the demonstration be lifted”.

Those who signed the petition were Adália Baptista Chivonde (mother of Nito Alves), Elsa Caholo (sister of Osvaldo Caholo), Henriqueta Diogo (wife of Benedito Jeremias), Marcelina de Brito (sister of Inocêncio de Brito) and Sara João Manuel (wife of Nicola Radical).

The 15 detainees in the case are Afonso Matias “Mbanza Hamza”, Albano Bingobingo, Arante Kivuvu, Benedito Jeremias, Domingos da Cruz, Fernando Tomás “Nicola Radical”, Hitler Jessia Chiconda “Itler Samussuku”, Inocêncio de Britoo “Drux”, José Hata “Cheik Hata”, Luaty Beirão, Nelson Dibango, Nito Alves, Nuno Álvaro Dala, Osvaldo Caholo and Sedrick de Carvalho. Captain Zenóbio Zumba, who was detained a posteriori for supposed friendship with Osvaldo Caholo, is political prisoner number 16.

More than 60 days have passed since the activists were arrested while they were discussing non-violent protest methods (on 20 June past).

At the time, the attorney general, of the Republic, General João Maria Moreira de Sousa, publicly declared that the young men had been caught plotting a coup against President José Eduardo dos Santos. Since then, political-judicial authorities have found it difficult to bring any formal charges against the activists.

On 7 August, the deputy attorney general of the Republic, General Hélder Pitta Grós, held a meeting with the mothers of Nito Alves (Adália Chivonde), Mbanza Hamza (Leonor João) and the sister of Nuno Álvaro Dala (Gertrudes Dala) to discuss the case of the 15. The meeting was extensively covered by State social media, and used as a publicity stunt.

“The time the deputy attorney general gave us for the release of our sons, a week, has come and gone. He said there would be a green light within a week. We still haven’t seen this green light. It appears that the deputy AG lied to us”, said Adália Chivonde.