Attempting to Assassinate the President with a Non-Violence Manual

The manuscript of  Angolan academic Domingos da Cruz, one of the prisoners of conscience in Luanda, defends peaceful actions against totalitarianism.

The Portuguese press agency Lusa had access to the manuscript Tools to Destroy a Dictatorship and Avoiding a New Dictatorship – Political Philosophy for the Liberation of Angola, of Domingos da Cruz whose work is based on the ideas of the American academic Gene Sharp.

According to the indictment of October 15 from the Luanda Provincial Court, the  reading sessions of  Domingos da Cruz’s work were a threat to state security.

“It was at these meetings that the participants decided to fight against the so-called dictator, overthrowing and substituting those in charge of the sovereign bodies of the state, and drafting a new constitution,” says the charges  about the activities around the book whose author insists deals with non-violent mechanisms.

“I can’t make any claims to the ideas contained in the book. With the exception of s few chapters, most of the ideas are those of the American philosopher Gene Sharp taken from his work “From Dictatorship to Democracy,” writes Domingos da Cruz in an introductory note to the work that he intended to publish in Angola before being detained.

In the book, Domingos da Cruz writes that “ The political philosophy for the liberation of Angola is extremely pacific, fraternal, but realist. It is based on the principle that the struggle against oppression is based on three possible ways: guerrilla warfare, as in the case of Cabinda; conventional war such as in the case of UNITA; and “political defiance” which is the same as “civil disobedience.”

According to the manuscript, the “hegemonic group” has come to control the society so effectively that the “only way”  is civilized resistance in the style of Mahatma Ghandi which, it emphasizes, might take a long time.

“ The peaceful democrats will have to cultivate an ethic of liberation in which planning, patience and intelligence will be crucial in  the slow destruction of the dictatorship. Then, at the right moment, there would be actions by the masses,” writes  the university lecturer.

Domingos da Cruz quotes Desmond Tutu, the South African Nobel Laureate, to support the thesis that the worst fear of a dictator is not weapons, but people’s desire for freedom. “ Taking up weapons would have pleased the dictatorship, since it would have some internal legitimacy. Taking up weapons shows we are equally savage like the dictator,” stresses Domingos da Cruz.

In the manuscript which was never published and whose ideas where being discussed by the young in Luanda, the Angolan lecturer writes that Angola had a colonial past that was replaced with “internal colonization” which has been going on for a while. He rejects any form of violence believing that “war strengthens a dictatorship.” For Domingos da Cruz, the Angolan society – artists, the church, entrepreneurs, parliamentary opposition, and the media have all been “domesticated.”

“ All we can count upon are our collective forces which can be built on the basis of solidarity, unity, and the struggle for democracy and human dignity,” he writes on what he believes to be the Angolan reality.

The 183 paged manual has several quotations to do with totalitarian power and an extensive bibliography about authors who have dealt with democratization issues around the world.

The most quoted authors in the work are Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Noam Chomsky, Etienne de Boetie; Gene Sharp is quoted at length.

In the final section of Domingos Cruz’s work the “non-violent methods of protest and persuasion” of Gene Sharp are reproduced.  These are the 198 measures of civil disobedience to confront dictatorial regimes.

The Angolan academic, who believes that in totalitarian states “the law is essentially an instrument that the powerful use against the weak” has been in detention, along with 14 other youth activists, since June. On October 15, they were all charged with rebellion and plotting to assassinate president José Eduardo dos Santos while meeting to discuss the manuscript.

His trial, as well as that of the other detainees, has been set for  November 16. In the meantime, the manual will soon be disseminated through the Internet.


*Translated and updated by Makaangola