All the President’s Dogs

A protest in the Angolan capital, Luanda on Saturday August 20, was broken up by security forces who set dogs onto the 30 or so demonstrators calling for the resignation of President José Eduardo dos Santos. António Francisco Diogo, 25, had a chunk ripped out of the back of his thigh by a bulldog unleashed by the military. President Dos Santos had just been reelected as leader of the ruling MPLA (Peoples’ Movement for the Liberation of Angola) with 99.6% of his party’s vote. His re-election means he will be the sole MPLA candidate for next year’s presidential election. The MPLA has ruled Angola for 40 years, since wresting independence from its colonial master Portugal in 1975. Widely derided as a tyrant, President Dos Santos, who has ruled the country for 37 of those years, is unable to tolerate any call for him to step down, however small or insignificant. […]

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Angola’s Latest Ploy to Silence Critics: A Regulatory Body to Censor Social Media

Angola’s governing MPLA party (People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola) is gearing up for a tough battle to retain its 40-year grip on power in the face of a rising tide of discontent, swelled by the biting economic consequences of low oil prices and poor governance. Its response is to tighten control by restricting civil liberties – and in particular freedom of information. Ahead of this month’s ruling party congress, the National Assembly has passed a set of four bills which, in effect, hand control (and censorship) of all mass media outlets, including social media and the internet, to a new MPLA-controlled supervisory body: the ‘Entidade Reguladora da Comunicação Social Angolana’ (ERCA) – the Angolan Social Communications Regulatory Body. The aim, says Maka Angola’s award-winning editor, Rafael Marques de Morais, is to “control and censor any attempt by political activists to use social media and the Internet to blow […]

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Police Torture in Angola – Part II: The Persecution of Matata

People living in Cacuaco municipality, on the outskirts of the Angolan capital Luanda, have good reason to fear the police who operate there.  Residents complain that officers in both the National Police and the Criminal Investigation Service arrest people at random and then try to force them to confess to crimes. Bernardo Correia Gaspar – known to family and friends as ‘Matata’, is 22 years of age.  He is currently languishing in Viana Prison, waiting to be charged for crimes of which he says he is innocent.  And it’s not the first time that he says the police have tried to frame him. He was arrested in 2013 at his Aunt Emilia’s house in Viana municipality on suspicion of involvement in the murder of a police officer, known as ‘Frank’.  According to Bernardo Gaspar, Frank had been a gang leader with criminal associates before joining the National Police. “He was […]

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Police Torture in Angola – Part I: The Death of Flávio Carizo

Flávio Agostinho Carizo was laid to rest on June 25. It was his birthday. He would have been 26 years old. Those who witnessed his final hours are prepared to testify that he was killed by police officers who were trying to torture a confession out of him. Flávio Carizo was one of a group of five young men subjected to repeated beatings and ill-treatment between June 15 and June 19 this year at a police station commonly known as the ‘Cauelele Police Station’: Police Station 39 in Kikolo neighbourhood, Cacuaco municipality, on the outskirts of the Angolan capital, Luanda. Eye-witnesses to the killing say he was tortured to death by police officers over that period: struck in the head with an AK 47 rifle butt, beaten with iron and wooden bars, stabbed in the legs and having a ligature tightened around his testicles. Their accounts are confirmed by the […]

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Mothers Denied Justice Due to Traditional Beliefs

A petition for clemency by mothers of two of Angola’s prisoners of conscience has gone unheard by the judge notorious for presiding over the show trial of the 17 Luanda Book Club activists. The mothers are pleading for the release of their sons, 19 year-old Nito Alves and 27 year-old Francisco Mapanza, who remain in jail in spite of a Supreme Court ‘habeas corpus’ ruling that forced the release of fellow activists convicted last March over an alleged conspiracy to incite political rebellion.. Nito Alves is one of the 17 Luanda Book Club activist, sentenced to four and a half years in prsion, who are appealing their conviction on the conspiracy charge.  He has not been freed because he is serving an additional six-month sentence for contempt over his remark in court that the show trial was a sham. Francisco Mapanza, who was attending the trial, became the unwitting 18th victim in the case, when he echoed Nito Alves’s comment. Judge Januário […]

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Imprisoned Luanda Book Club Activists Released Today

The Supreme Court upheld the habeas corpus petition presented by the defence of the 17 activists of the Luanda Book Club, convicted for rebellion and criminal association, who have been serving their prison sentences since March 28. Their lawyer, Michel Francisco, told Lusa “I can announce that I received a call from the Supreme Court to tell me that they will be freed. It has been confirmed and I will witness their release,” the lawyer told Lusa, alluding to the response to the “habeas corpus” petition that had been pending since April. The petition requested that the activists be released while they await a decision regarding their appeal against their conviction for rebellion and criminal association.

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Machete Torture: More Human Rights Abuses in Diamond-Rich Region

“I am Angolan!”, the informal diamond digger keeps screaming in pain and in vain, while the guard repeatedly beats him on the palm of his hands with a machete. His citizen’s rights are ignored. As the guard becomes more violent, the victim screams for his mother repeatedly, but his humanity is ignored as well. “Shit! Pardon does not exist”, the guard who is commanding the beatings of up to ten miners, laughs louder. He is known as Bonifácio. Video evidence has emerged of vicious and sadistic beatings recently meted out to informal miners known as ‘garimpeiros’ by private security guards. The assaults took place just weeks ago in the diamond-rich area of north-eastern Angola. The video, which contains harrowing scenes, was filmed on April 21, 2016 in the Dambi area of Cafunfo in the northeastern province of Lunda-Norte.  In unsparing detail, it shows the guards using machetes to intimidate, beat […]

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The Emperor Has no Clothes and the Naked Hunger Strike

The only two females in the Luanda Book Club case, Rosa Conde (29) and Laurinda Gouveia (26), have been on hunger strike since May 8 in protest at their continued detention in Viana prison, pending their appeal against a verdict and prison sentence which have been widely condemned as unfair and part of a political show-trial. They are also protesting against the attacks they suffered on the same day at the hands of dozens of other inmates. “When we were attacked, one of the prison guards who watched the beatings said [to their colleagues] ‘Let them kill themselves’. We are running terrible risks here. We are not safe,” stated Rosa Conde who is serving a sentence of two years and three months. The two young women had also been refusing to wear prison clothing until Rosa Conde collapsed on Wednesday.  She suffers from pneumonia, and was admitted to the prison […]

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Tales from the Crypt: Angola’s Hidden Hospital Horrors

Morgue Tax “Sick people don’t have to pay.  Only the dead.” At face value, this remark from one of the administrators of the Regional Hospital in Cafunfo, in the province of Lunda Norte seems to make no sense.  Then clarity emerges: the town does not have electricity. The living have to put up with no electricity.  But the families of the recently deceased are forced to pay “for a day or two’s refrigeration in the morgue” or deal with the gruesome consequences of a decomposing corpse. Cecilia Matias was only sixteen when she died from yellow fever.  Her Aunt, Madalena Matias revealed that that the grieving family had to find the equivalent of nearly four hundred dollars for Cecilia’s body to be preserved while they arranged her funeral. “We bought two {200 litre) barrels of diesel at the pump, at a cost of 64.000 kwanzas, to keep Cecilia’s body preserved […]

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Pen Drive Lands Child in Viana Prison

Bastos Mateus Elias has been held in Viana Prison for nearly two months on suspicion of stealing a pen drive. He’s just been transferred to the tents, which serve as a makeshift infirmary and a cell for the sick among others. Conditions in the tents are no better than the two other areas he has already passed through since being detained. Initially he was in the holding pen, where prisoners say sexual assaults, or demands for sexual favours in exchange for food, are commonplace.  He was later transferred to Cell D6, where he shared it with nearly 50 other adult prisoners, some of them on remand, others already convicted and serving their sentences. But Bastos Mateus Elias was born on January 11, 2003 – he is only just thirteen years old. His mother, Samba Mateus told Maka Angola that she was away in Kwanza Sul province when her son was […]

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