Solidarity Meeting With Political Prisoners Gathers a Thousand People

More than a thousand people took part in a meeting to express their solidarity with detained Angolan political prisoners.  Human rights defender Rafael Marques, and Radio Despertar organized the event on 12 September.

The event was broadcast live by the radio station and live streamed through various social networks for nearly four hours.

Deolinda Luisa, mother of the 26-years old political prisoner Benedito Jeremias,  in tears and with a cracking voice, said she had not been able to take food to her son for three days because she had no money.  The mother, currently living in Moxico province, is in Luanda to support her son who has been detained since 20 June.  He has been accused of plotting to overthrow the state as part of the so-called 15+1 prisoners.

The mother of 19-year old political prisoner Nito Alves, Adalia Chivonde, told the gathering that her son was showing signs of mental imbalance due to the psychological torture, including isolation, that he had been subjected to. Adalia Chivonde pleaded saying “We are asking the President and General Ze Maria [Chief of the Military Intelligence and Security] to free our sons.”  She reminded the authorities they too were parents and wondered “How would you feel?” if their children had been imprisoned arbitrarily.

Lidia Kivuvu, the sister of the 22 year old political prisoner Arante Kivuvu, talked about her brother’s health saying he had a tumor that was growing next to his navel.  She said tearfully that the prison services had come up with an odd response saying, “that is not a tumor; it is a rice grain of no importance.”

More than a thousand attended the solidarity meeting in Viana, in the outskirts of Luanda.

As the relatives told their stories about the daily violations of the political prisoners, many of the people gathered were visibly trying to contain their emotions.   The relatives expressed their disappointment at President Dos Santos presenting himself as a victim of the supposed preparation for the coup. They had similar sentiments for the Attorney General, General Joao Maria de Sousa.  He and the president, they said, were trying to perpetuate the farce there had been an attempted coup d’etat thus causing much suffering to the political prisoners and their families.

Gertrudes Dala, sister of the 30-year old political prisoner Nuno Alvaro Dala, complained about the absence of the freedom of expression in Angola.  She said this was the prime motive that led to the detention of the fifteen young people when they were reading works on peaceful political activism.

Neusa de Carvalho, wife of the journalist Sedrick de Carvalho, described her husband’s imprisonment as “Mr. Jose Eduardo dos Santos’ joke.”

Marcelina de Brito, sister of the political prisoner Inoncencio de Brito, revealed the prison authorities have threatened them with reprisals against the prisoners if any of them spoke to the media.

The activist (in the picture) spoke of the women’s power in defending their children’s freedom.

There was also criticism of political parties and civil society. Arlete Ganga said, “It would have been nice if all the people who are here also had the courage to take part in the protest marches.”

Arlete Ganga, sister of Manuel Heriberto Ganga who was detained and shot to death by members of the presidential guard in 2013, said: “If all the people who are here would have gone into the streets demanding freedom, our brothers would already have been out.”  Heriberto Ganga had been out in the streets putting up posters demanding justice for the activists Alves Kamulingue and Isaias Cassule who were killed in 2012 by police officers and agents of the state intelligence services.

Friar Julio Candeeiro, director of the Mosaiko Association, expressed his solidarity with the political prisoners and also spoke of the massacre on April 16 at Mount Sumi in Huambo carried out by the police and military.  “This is something that ought to embarrass all of us,” he said.

“These brilliant political prisoners did not threaten peace.  The lack of justice is what is going to threaten peace”, the Dominican Friar said.

The following political parties were also present at the event: CASA-CE, FNLA, PRS and UNITA.  They expressed their solidarity with the political prisoners and accused the authorities of being authoritarian and intolerant. The gathering contributed more than two hundred thousand to support the families of the political prisoners.

During the meeting more than 900 people added their names to a petition stating, “ We citizens who love peace and social justice and who are aware of the need to create a democratic state in which the rule of law is respected.”  The petitioners expressed their indignation against the existence of political prisoners in Angola.

The petitioners further noted they were, “Profoundly shocked with acts of psychological torture and horrible prison conditions that the prisoners are being subjected to.”

The same petitioners said they were “aware of the suffering of the mothers, wives and children of the prisoners whose lives had been changed into real hell. We demand the unconditional release of all the citizens and the political prisoners because their continued detention is a violation of all human rights, and a backwards step in the democratization of the country,” declared the petition.