Angola’s San Community under Threat from Burning Forests

In many parts of Angola the end of the cooler, dry season known as ‘cacimbo’ is traditionally the right time for burning brush. Fire clears the land ready for planting ahead of the rainy season, produces the charcoal on which many families still depend for their cooking fuel, and sends wildlife into the path of hunters. But unregulated and uncontrolled, this practise is one of the major factors leading to widespread deforestation in the most remote southeastern corner of Angola, where hundreds of kilometres of virgin forest are on fire, threatening the very existence of the San people. The San, dubbed “Bushmen” by the European colonizers of the region, are the descendants of some of the most ancient peoples on Earth. Their forefathers have roamed the southern African forests for tens of thousands of years. To this day the San communities follow their ancestors’ tradition of living in harmony with […]

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Défenseurs de la Démocratie de 52 Pays Africains Écrivent une Lettre au Chef de L’État Érythréen

Plus de 100 défenseurs de la démocratie de 52 pays africains, dont le lauréat du prix Nobel Wole Soyinka, écrivent une lettre au chef de l’État érythréen. Luanda le 10 Juin 2019—-DES ÉCRIVAINS, DES JOURNALISTES, DES ACADÉMICIENS, DES MILITANTS DES DROITS HUMAINS ET DES FIGURES DE LA SOCIETE CIVILE DE 52 PAYS AFRICAINS DEMANDENT À RENDRE VISITE À LEURS COLLÈGUES INCARCÉRÉS EN ÉRYTHRÉE. Cent (100) éminents défenseurs de la démocratie venant de 52 pays d’Afrique, y compris le lauréat du prix Nobel Wole Soyinka, le romancier, journaliste, poète et universitaire de renom Alain Mabanckou et le chanteur et député d’opposition ougandais Bobi Wine, ont saisi l’occasion de la Journée de l’Afrique, le 25 mai 2019, pour écrire une lettre ouverte au président érythréen Isaias Aferwerki. Ele a été publiée le 10 juin 2019. Ils ont demandé au chef de l’État la possibilité de rendre visite à leurs collègues incarcérés en […]

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Press Release: African Activists Sign Letter to Eritrean President

Nobel Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka joins over 100 African activists and academics from 52 of 54 African countries, including Ugandan musician and opposition MP Bobi Wine, award winning Kenyan anti-corruption activist John Githongo, Egyptian actor Amr Waked, award winning human rights lawyer Alice Nkom, novelist Alain Mabanckou, award winning investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas in signing a letter to Eritrean head of state. DEAR MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE WELCOME US TO ERITREA AFRICAN DEMOCRACY ADVOCATES, JOURNALISTS AND HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS ASK TO VISIT THEIR INCARCERATED COLLEAGUES IN ERITREA. One hundred (100) leading African journalists, democracy and human rights advocates took the opportunity on Africa Day – May 25th 2019 to write an open letter to Eritrea’s President Isaias Aferwerki. It is released today Monday 10th June 2019. They requested the head of state an opportunity to visit their colleagues incarcerated in Eritrea. In a message of solidarity with all the people […]

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Open Letter to the Eritrean Head of State

Your Excellency, President Isaias Aferwerki: We write to convey our most sincere congratulations upon your country’s normalization of diplomatic relations with Ethiopia. This is a development much appreciated by all Africans of goodwill. We write to you in our capacity as citizens of Africa to pledge our unequivocal solidarity with all the people of Eritrea. This includes the many Eritreans we see enduring all manner of risk and suffering in search of a better life outside their homeland. We acknowledge that we too hail from nations with varying governance and developmental challenges.  We write to you, in the spirit of Pan-African solidarity, to seek common solutions to our shared problems. Africa’s many disparate nation states have undergone significant and diverse changes over the course of the last two decades.   [Today, many more Africans live in freedom than under repression].  Importantly, those African countries that have made the most progress – […]

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They called me crazy!

They called me crazy! They also branded me “frustrated”, “anti-patriotic”, “a CIA agent”, “a sell-out”, and “a traitor”. I endured endless political harassment and countless run-ins with the police. I had to cope with smear campaigns, economic deprivation and social isolation. I was put on trial for exposing their human rights abuse and corruption. Who are “they”?  “They” are the members of the Dos Santos Administration:  the individuals who were the beneficiaries of, and accomplices in, then-President José Eduardo dos Santos’s regime.  They’re the ones who embodied the institutionalized corruption and the state capture of the economy, the repression and the fear that pervaded Angola during the 38 years Dos Santos held power. Then in September 2017, Dos Santos’s chosen successor João Lourenço was elected President and decided that the stench of corruption was too much to bear. The result is that a number of high-profile and high-ranking malcreants within […]

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An Anguished Cry for Justice in Angola

The family of a man tortured to death by Angolan police have petitioned President João Lourenço for justice.  As reported by Maka Angola, João Alfredo Dala was beaten and mutilated during a 15-hour police interrogation as part of an investigation into the alleged kidnapping of an elderly pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Angola.   Evidence supplied to Maka Angola suggested that the pastor in question, Daniel Cem, had staged his own kidnapping as a form of revenge on the Church hierarchy after being sacked from his administrative role and losing his status and privileges.   Pastor Cem told officers investigating the case that the kidnappers bundled him into a truck he recognized as belonging to a member of his congregation, João Dala.     Mr Dala was taken in for questioning and a number of the officers from Angola’s Criminal Investigation Service (Serviço de Investigação Criminal – SIC) recorded the interrogation […]

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Angolan Injustice: The Case of the ‘Kidnapped’ Pastor

The reported kidnap of an elderly pastor belonging to the Church of Seventh Day Adventists in Angola made for sensational headlines. Pastor Daniel Cem alleged church leaders had ordered his abduction in November 2015 and claimed his family had to pay a ransom of 30 million Kwanzas (US $220,000 at the time) to secure his release. Pastor Cem named the Adventist Church’s regional Executive Secretary as having organized the kidnap. He then accused the President and Chief Financial Officer of defamation for passing around the church hierarchy an anonymous letter purporting to confess that the kidnap was staged by Cem’s own family to extort money from the church. After a controversial trial in December 2017, six members of the Adventist church, including the three northern region leaders, were found guilty and sentenced to between one and five years in prison. They have been bailed, pending appeal, but are confined to […]

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The Fake Assassination Attempt against Angola’s Vice-President

Why does the president of the Republic, João Lourenço, allow his government to be tarnished with fabricated accusations regarding the supposed attempted murder of his vice-president in the first months of his term? Why would the president allow the National Police and the Criminal Investigation Service (SIC) to use a machete as an official torture tool? Why does the president allow the judicial system, especially SIC, to be so inhumane, specializing in forging absurd evidence and incarcerating innocents? Why does João Lourenço allow the involvement of staff members of the Security House of the Presidency in an act of torture to go unpunished? Let us turn to the facts. Five citizens, detained more than a month ago, are accused of the attempted murder of vice-president Bornito de Sousa. The accusation was concocted from a banal discussion about parking the car which the five were in. They were barbarously tortured, filmed […]

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My Trial

My trial has begun. I am standing on the dock accused of two crimes for nearly four hours straight. It is my punishment for not exercising. Now I feel the pain in my back. Under the Law on Crimes against State Security, I am accused of an outrage against a sovereign body, the former President José Eduardo dos Santos. The second crime is of insult against a public office holder, the former Attorney General João Maria Moreira de Sousa. Both carry a maximum sentence of four years. The courtroom is packed. Judge Josina Mussua Ferreira Falcão notes how disrespectful the former attorney general and his counsel have been. For the second time, they submitted a last minute request to postpone the trial sine die (without a set date), and this time with an unreasonable justification. The judge decides to go ahead with the trial without the plaintiff or his counsel. […]

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Angola’s Death Squads

Nearly two years ago, rumors began circulating in the Angolan capital, Luanda, that police officers working for the Criminal Investigation Service (SIC) were routinely rounding up suspected petty criminals and killing them. Human rights journalist Rafael Marques de Morais began an investigation, taking oral and written testimony from dozens of witnesses, family members, friends, and even from the occasional survivor. He says “Compelling testimony points to a systematic SIC death squad operation targeting young men merely suspected of undesirable or criminal behavior.” Over a period of months, a clear pattern emerged with eye-witnesses naming individual police officers who had been seen to kill victims in broad daylight and in view of members of the public.  It was alleged that specific SIC units were acting as death squads with impunity. “The SIC death squads are blamed for the summary executions of hundreds of young Angolans, without even a cursory investigation of […]

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