One year ago today, the initial arrests were made of a group of activists in Angola’s capital of Luanda. Dubbed the #Angola17, their crime was meeting to read a book and discuss non-violent methods to promote political change, primarily how to urge the government to expand civil and human rights. However, the Angolan government saw this as a threat, prosecuted them and convicted them to prison sentences ranging from 2 to 8 years. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Angola is an oil rich country on the Southwestern coast of Africa. It’s made untold billions since its civil war ended in 2003, pumping oil from the Cabinda province, located at the northern tip of the country and bordering the Republic of the Congo. Cabinda is also known for a separatist movement that has at times engaged in violence. The recent slump in oil prices has had serious repercussions across Angola. Citizens are suffering and the government is increasingly intolerant of dissent. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
“I still have hope. I have forgiven the abductors. But I want to know where is Itai and what have they done to him. I will not rest until I know.”
Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe for 36 years, turns 92 this month. His birthday celebrations are known as lavish occasions; last year his guests dined on baby elephant. This year, reports are the big event will occur this weekend in a stadium with a purported planned budget of $800,000. Mugabe’s personal photographer states he is planning a concert, a bash dubbed “Well done, Bob,” to honor Mugabe and his contributions. The festivities will occur in the wake of President Mugabe declaring a national emergency due to the drought gripping the region. An estimated 2.4 million Zimbabweans are in need of food aid to avoid starvation due to crop failures and livestock deaths. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Dear Ms. Minaj-
Following your December 19th concert in Luanda, Angola, you tweeted “Angola has my heart.” More importantly, however, you also tweeted a picture of yourself with Isabel dos Santos, daughter of the president of Angola. You refer to Isabel in a comment using the phrase “girl power.”
Marcos Mavungo spent his birthday, December 6th, in prison, where he has been for the past 9 months. He, along with the #Angola15, endured the irony of Angola’s recent 40th independence celebration locked in a cell. Mavungo’s crime was attempting to organize a peaceful protest. The #Angola15 were meeting to discuss non-violent measures to bring governmental changes in civil and human rights freedoms. None of them will be home for Christmas or to celebrate the new year. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
If Angola intends as it has stated in the past, to be a leader both within the continent and on the world stage, it must start by addressing its own concerns, particularly when the UN explicitly tells you to do so. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
They gathered to read a book. They met because of a hope, dream, desire of speaking freely in the press and on the streets about the need for change; to live a life without fear of violent repression of protest marches; to see an end to corruption. Instead they were arrested, tortured, held in solitary confinement, denied access to their families, legal counsel and medical attention. They are the #Angola15. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Police and security forces in Angola use the courts, dogs, batons, torture, and murder to attack citizens exercising rights guaranteed in their constitution and under international law. Journalist Rafael Marques is witness to nearly all these tactics as he documents corruption and rights violations in the country he calls home. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Tuesday, June 30th was a very good day. Two activists in Swaziland, Africa’s last absolute monarchy, walked free after serving over a year of a two-year prison sentence. Bhekithemba (Bheki) Makhubu, editor of The Nation magazine, and Thulani Maseko, an human rights attorney, were released after an appeals court determined there was no case against the men.
There is a short distance between freedom and conviction in Angola. For journalist and human rights activist Rafael Marques de Morais, it was one week.
Rafael went to court last Thursday and thought he reached a settlement agreement on charges of criminal defamation. Today, he received a 6 month prison sentence suspended for two years. Amnesty had called for all charges to be dropped.