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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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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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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Witness to Slaughter: The Mount Sumi Massacre

Meet Raúl Xavier.  The 25-year-old was one of hundreds of followers of Pastor José Julino Kalupeteka, the Angolan founder of a breakaway Adventist sect called ‘Christian Church of the 7th Day – Light of the World’. Raúl Xavier was one of the first to run to Pastor Kalupeteka’s aid on April 16, 2015 when provincial police officers, backed by special units from the Angolan army, attacked the sect’s camp in the rural village of São Pedro de Sumé, in the central Angolan province of Huambo. Nursing a wound after a bullet went through his right ankle, he ended up witnessing what has become known as the ‘Mount Sumi Massacre’, from his hiding place on the rooftop of Kalupeteka’s house. On April 5, 2016 – just eleven days short of the first anniversary of the bloody events on Mount Sumi –  Pastor Kalupeteka was sentenced to 28 years in prison by […]

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Caluquembe Police Fire on Students

From Angola comes yet another report of out-of-control police officers shooting at demonstrators. Three students were wounded, one of them seriously, when police officers opened fire without warning as the youngsters were taking part in a protest march last week in the central Angolan town of Caluquembe, in the province of Huíla. The students were protesting over demands for extra money in connection with their studies, after a local authority meeting decreed that emoluments would be added to tuition fees.  They were also protesting at the summary dismissal of teachers who did not go along with the move. Two of the injured were named as 17-year-old Paulo Alfredo Cabral, a student of economics and law at the Novo Horizonte college and 21-year-old Cecília Camia Francisco, who is a student at the Teacher Training college. Both received gunshot wounds to their legs. “In all, three young people were shot.  Two were […]

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Eight Years in Preventive Detention: Justice, Angola Style

CASE 2056/08 His full name is Domingos Manuel Filipe Catete, and he is now 32 years old.   He made his way from the province of Malanje to the Angolan capital, Luanda, to find work.  He was only 24, on May 16, 2008, when he had a few too many drinks one Friday night and passed out in a stranger’s minivan.    He has been locked up ever since, held under “preventive detention” in Luanda Central Penitentiary, the jail known locally as CCL (Comaraca Central de Luanda). Why?  “I was drunk and there was a car with an open door parked right there in front of me, on Rua da Fanta in the Ingombota neighbourhood. I got in and went to sleep.” The next morning, the owner of the car found him there, still asleep. “He drove me straight to the police station where he accused me of stealing a CD case […]

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Luanda Book Club: The Frontliners

All charged with conspiracy to plot a rebellion and criminal association. All sentenced to four years and six months in prison. All transferred to Viana Penitentiary on April 14. Name: Fernando António Tomás, aka “Nicola Radical” Age: 37 years old Birthplace: Lunda-Norte province Occupation: Self-employed power-generator technician Known as “Nicola Radical”, Fernando Tomás is the oldest of the group and one of those who regularly turned out for the street protests against the government.  He had been detained five times for participating in demonstrations and was subjected to beatings and ill-treatment by police officers. Fernando Tomas is a technician, married and has two children aged 7 and 3. His wife, Sara João Manuel, was astounded when police came to her home looking for “subversive material” after his arrest at the book club.  All they found was her husband’s collection of local newspapers.  She told reporters: “He [Nicola] doesn’t even have […]

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The Tertulia and the Luanda Book Club

Some countries, Portugal and Brazil amongst them, have a vibrant cafe society where philosophical and political views can be expressed, debated and dissected without fear or favour.  All-comers are welcome to interject or just listen and learn.  These are the political salons of the streets, where lecturers, students, journalists, politicians, workers and passers-by can drop by and join in. In Portuguese these encounters are called “tertulias”. It’s been one of life’s great pleasures to take part in these public “tertulias”, whether over coffee and pastries in Lisbon, or caipirinhas in Rio de Janeiro.  So why not in Luanda, that other major Lusophone city where political scandal is the order of the day? Linked by their shared colonial history and language, Portugal, Brazil and Angola have all experienced periods of political turbulence but today all three boast modern democratic constitutions guaranteeing freedom of expression and of association. Unfortunately, in Angola the […]

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The Luanda Book Club: The Viana Three

Reports from Luanda today (April 13) say that the Angolan National Director of Prison Services, Commissar António Fortunato, has responded to international outrage over the inhumane conditions in the prisons to which the 17 prisoners of conscience, sentenced in what has come to be known as the Luanda Book Club trial.  Commissar Fortunato told Angolan National Radio (RNA) that the authorities would be moving all the imprisoned dissidents to one jail, Viana, one of the municipalities on the eastern outskirts of Luanda. Three of the jailed prisoners of conscience are already being held in Viana – the two female activists Rosa Conde and Laurinda Gouveia are in the women’s wing, while Laurinda’s partner, Nito Alves is in the male wing. Name: Manuel Baptista Chivonde Nito Alves Age: 19 years old Birthplace: Huambo Education: Law student, Instituto Superior Politécnico São Francisco de Assis Occupation: Student Charged with conspiracy to plot a […]

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The Luanda Book Club: Sedrick de Carvalho

Name: Sedrick de Carvalho Age: 26 years old Place of Birth: Luanda Education: Law, Jean Piaget University Occupation: Journalist for Folha 8, O Golo Charges: Conspiracy to rebellion and criminal association Sedrick de Carvalho began his career in 2011 at the weekly publication Folha 8 as a page layout designer, going on to become a journalist. In 2013 he joined Novo Jornal, where he regularly wrote features on social and economic issues. At the end of his contract last January, he returned to Folha 8, where he still covers social and economic affairs. He also launched a sports blog O Golo and was its main contributor. Sedrick taught a course on page design at the Evangelical Church of Angola before joining the Luanda Book Club on Saturday, June 20, 2015. His colleagues state that Sedrick’s laptop was broken and that he had borrowed one from journalist and writer Domingos da […]

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