President’s Speech Nabs Another Political Prisoner

The activist Antonio Diogo de Santana Domingos “Magno”, 38, will be spending his fifth day in preventive detention because he tried to get into the Angolan National Assembly to listen to the State of the Nation speech,  delivered on  October 15th by Vice President Manuel Vicente.

Domingos Magno, as he is known, did not even manage to get within 200 meters of the National Assembly.  Maka Angola has spoken to several relatives, friends and police sources to account for what happened.

The activist was detained soon after 10 am by two state security agents who had been following him.  This happened soon after he got a press pass from the company NCR, which should have allowed him into the National Assembly building.

After his detention, agents accompanied by special forces from the police went to the Fourth Police Station in Maianga where he was interviewed alone by State security agents. After that, they transferred him to the First Police Station, downtown, by the same agents and other unidentified operatives.  He was then taken to the Luanda Island Police Station where he spent the night and was subjected to two separate interrogations by officials who did not belong to the police unit where he was being held.

On Friday, he was taken to the Second Police Station where he is still in detention.  At this location, he was interviewed by police as well as by officers from the Attorney General’s office.

According to reliable sources Maka Angola spoke to, officers from the president’s office attended the interrogations. The interrogators did not dwell on the pass that he held to get into the National Assembly and whether this could have constituted an infraction.

The interrogators wanted to know who was behind his political activism, and what he gains from it. The interrogators wanted names of his supposed mentors and sponsors. Domingos Magno was informed only today that he is accused of “False Pretense” with case number 6484/15 – IG.

The activist has been one of the main reporters for Central Angola 7311, an online information site named after the first protest against the government on 7 March 2011 during the Arab Spring. Maka Angola contacted the Prosecutor for the Second Police Station; he said it was not within his remit to make public statements.  The secretary at the station referred us to the officer who was in charge for that day who refused to make any statements in the absence of the station commander.

Domingos Magno’s wife, in an advanced stage of pregnancy, was at the station, and his brothers were also present with food and bottles of water for him.  Apparently, the authorities have no basic food to give to the detainees.

In turn, Rui Verde, the Maka Angola Legal Analyst, stressed that there is no such crime in law in this case as “false pretense.”  That would only have happened if the culprit had entered the National Assembly with the card.”

Rui Verde continues by saying: “There is not even an attempted crime which would have happened if he had tried to get in and had been prevented from doing so. Since none of this happened, just holding the card is not a crime whether he is a journalist or not.  There is no basis for detaining him because he did not commit or try to commit any crime.”

Previous Threats

Two days before his detention, Domingos Magno got warnings  through his facebook page, and was advised to distance himself  from the circle of friends which included political activists, and opposition figures.  He was warned that he would suffer serious consequences if he were not to do so. It only took two days for this to happen.

According to a source close to the case, the group  of operatives arranged for Domingos Magno to have a pass; it was a trap. On this same day, Domingos Magno had set up a meeting with officials discuss a project that he was working on  that would tend to minors who had suffered sexual abuse. The previous day, because people from the National Assembly were insisting that he attended the session, he cancelled the meeting.

The security agents became very interested in Domingos Magno in September after he wrote a polite letter to the son of Jose Eduardo dos Santos, the head of the Angola Sovereign Fund, Jose Filomeno dos Santos “Zenu.”  In the letter, Magno pleaded with “Zenu” to talk to his father to free the fifteen political prisoners.

“ These young people were first accused of preparing to make an attempt on your father’s life (which I do not believe) and as time went by so did the accusations, almost weekly. At the moment, I do not know what they are exactly accused of”, the activist wrote in the letter to Zenu.

On the original charges, in which the Attorney General, João Maria de Sousa charged the youths of preparing to overthrow the current government, Domingos Magno clarified the president’s son: “ They [the fifteen political prisoners] are not in favor of coup d’etats. They believe that a coup will only allow for the perpetuation of an oppressive system, holding back the development of the country in several ways and creating more violence.”

To make it plainly clear, Domingos Magno added that: “ This principle can be read on the first pages of the book that one of them wrote; when they were detained, they were carrying out discussions based on that book.” He was referring to a manuscript entitled “Tools to destroy a dictator and to prevent a new dictatorship: a Philosophy for the Liberation of Angola” by the journalist and author Domingos da Cruz.

“ Please brother, as influential as you are,  being the president’s son, with  such important responsibilities, a member of our generation,  a young person  like us and obviously someone we can count upon in the future, can you make a plea on behalf of the detained youths!  Not only are these young people not what people say about them, but they do not wish ill neither the country nor its leaders”, pleaded Domingos Magno.

“ I should remind you brother Zenu that among the young people in prison there are individuals with first  degrees, Masters, and even doctorates and academics ready to contribute.  We are talking about people who could be your advisors in several aspects of life – highly talented and precious young people”, he emphasized.

Domingos Magno is a third year Economics and Management Student at Piaget University.  He worked for many years in multinationals in the oil sector where he worked in management and logistics.

It is more than clear that a number of highly educated activists are opposed to have the country return to a one-party state and a de facto dictatorship.

Challenge from the Middle

An analyst who is familiar with the case said the detention of Domingos Magno “has much to do with SINSE [Intelligence Services] trying to recruit him; this was attempted a few weeks ago.”

“ There are figures from the Middle Class who are challenging and questioning the system” said the same analyst who chose to remain anonymous.

“ These detentions are meant to prevent people from a certain social strata  to join the movement that is challenging and questioning the system. They want it to remain a movement of the miserable without jobs or social status; those who can be dismissed as “frustrated” who cannot have the same impact that Luaty Beirão is having.”

According to this analyst, “ Many intellectuals and member of the Middle Class will suffer the same fate if they identify themselves with the movement that is contesting the status quo. These are the ones who have something to lose.”