Youth Activists Charged with Rebellion and Coup Plotting

The Angolan activist Rafael Marques told Lusa (Portuguese News Agency) this week that the charge of “rebellion” against the youths who have been detained in Luanda is a sign of desperation on the part of the Angolan authorities.

“The charges did not surprise me because anything can be expected from a regime is so unpredictable and erratic,” said Mr Marques, who met the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Linda Thomas-Greenfield this week in Washington.

“This charge shows that the authorities are increasingly desperate”, he said.

The Angolan public prosecutor’s office charged 17 youth activists with preparing to rebel and to overthrow the president of the republic by attending workshops on barricading the streets and civil disobedience.

According to the charges, which Lusa had access to, “the accused were planning to overthrow the legitimate bodies of sovereignty, create what they called a National Salvation Government and to write a new constitution.” The document claimed that the accused were detained during a police operation carried out on 20 June. The document goes on to state that the Angolan youths were found “in flagrante delito”, holding the sixth session of a weekly course supposedly aimed at overthrowing the government.

Rafael Marques said the charge of “rebellion” showed lack of a proper strategy because the accused have no political clout to speak of.  “When Laurinda Gouveia (one of the young people who have been accused) is charged with rebellion then the MPLA (People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola) has lost its power,” Mr Marques said. “The strength of the MPLA or José Eduardo dos Santos is on the wane because they are not accusing a general or someone with political clout.”

Rafael Marques, who is also the author of the book Blood Diamonds: Torture and Corruption in Angola, added: “With all due respect they are charging kids. The political power has lost all its legitimacy and all the appearance of being real power when it accuses kids of rebellion because they were studying manuals [on non-violence]. This is a form of diversion as they seem not to know what to do.”  Rafael Marques told Lusa that he briefed the US government on the case of the political prisoners.

He stressed to Lusa that the authorities had tortured most of the young people who had been detained.   Rafael Marques said: “With the exception of Osvaldo, all the young detainees have scars on their bodies. They have often been tortured by the police. Laurinda Gouveia was beaten by various police commanders.”

He pointed out that the office of the Prosecutor General had done nothing to punish those who had violated the rights of these young people.

Mr Marques added that the judicial system in Angola was politically controlled.
“The politicization and militarization of the Office of the Attorney General has further weakened the regime,” he said.

“When the judicial system is used so arbitrarily and brutally an obvious question comes to mind. What will happen when these individuals will no longer be in power? What kind of judicial system are we going to have to guarantee that they will have fair and dignified trials?”

Edited translation by MakaAngola