Thought Crime in Angola

In Angola thinking is a crime.

This is what can be concluded from the 39 articles in the charges against the most famous political prisoners of our times, in Angola.

The essence of the charges are based on a simple technicality. Since there were no facts or evidence to produce a “serious charge,” even if it had to do with intention to commit a crime, the publica prosecution came up with “preparatory acts.” The fact is that preparatory acts are usually not punishable. These acts are only punishable in very special cases such as an attempt on the life of the President of the Republic.

In this way, the young people who were meeting to exchange ideas have been charged with making an attempt on the President’s life and with rebellion because there is no crime to speak of.  Therefore, the judicial authorities had to turn to exceptional accusations resting on the idea of preparatory acts. In other words, as there was no crime, they transformed some meetings into preparation to commit a crime. It is very odd.

The Attorney General’s Office should defend the law and not create surrealistic scenarios.

What, then, are preparatory acts? Preparatory acts are those actions taken before a crime is committed, that are characterized by external deeds, and that can be taken by all as being obviously dangerous. Preparatory acts are aimed intentionally for the carrying out of certain crimes.

Therefore, in this fiction that the Attorney General’s Office has created, it would have been necessary to show that the preparatory acts were suitable and proper to achieve a specific end, and that the meetings that are being referred to in the charges were a first step in the iter criminis to carry out operations that would have overthrown the government by unconstitutional means. It is not enough to say that the young people met regularly over a period of time and expressed their dissatisfaction with the regime. How many people meet in cafes and markets and who refer to the regime in unflattering terms?

Apart from that, the acts have to be dangerous. Gathering dynamite to carry out an attack is a dangerous preparatory act. Planning an act, if there is concrete proof of that, is a dangerous act.  However, people gathering to discuss political ideas does not constitute a dangerous act.

Where are the dangerous acts that feature in the charges? We have here ridiculous accusations. There are references to meetings and summaries of a book by an American author Gene Sharp From Dictatorship to Democracy, A Conceptual Framework for Liberation. Gene Sharp is known for supporting conflict resolution through non-violent means, and started, in 1983, the Albert Einstein Institute – an NGO that is dedicated to the promotion of non-violent conflict resolution. Gene Sharp had been Professor of Politics at Dartmouth and is often cited as a possible winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. A retired professor who believes in non-violence could certainly not have been a defender of an unlawful and criminal insurrection. Could it be that the Prosecutor General’s office is not giving us all the information?

The public prosecutor claims that the book in question was behind the Arab Spring, that is described as a dangerous phenomenon similar to a tsunami. The book was not the theoretical basis for the Arab Spring.  Nabil Fahmy, Hosni Mubarak’s former ambassador to the United States, laughed when, during an interview with an Egyptian blogger, Gene Sharp was mentioned. He said he had never heard of him, and it was less likely that the protestors at Tahir Square had done so. The relationship between Gene Sharp and the Arab Spring is akin to that of Bonga and Mickey Mouse.

The Arab spring was not from the beginning a bad thing; this was an attempt at toppling several dictatorships for their replacement with democratic governments. If the Angolan regime believes that it is a Democracy, then it has nothing to fear from the Arab Spring; in fact, it should have praised it.  In the charges, Tunisia is mentioned as an example, which is hilarious. Tunisia is one of the countries in the Arab Spring which, despite various problems, has been doing well. Tunisia got rid of a thieving dictator who had given all the nation’s wealth to his family, and came up with a reasonable democracy without radicals. Therefore, why should Tunisia be feared?

The truth is that this is a trial of freedom of thought and expression. The essential facts are based on meetings, discussion of ideas, books, opinions. Nothing more.  The government wants to imprison people’s ideas; this is not possible.  The mind is, after all, free.

The law is clear.  The 40th article of the constitution guarantees the freedom of expression while the 41st guarantees the freedom of conscience.

Therefore, we are dealing here with a case that has to do with the freedom of expression.

Nobody should remain indifferent to this injustice.  We should remember Niemollers poem on Nazism and silence…

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.