News / Africa

Angola Opposition Urges Protest After Killing of Activists

FILE - Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos.
FILE - Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos.
Anita Powell
Angola's main opposition party is calling for a mass demonstration Saturday to protest the abduction, torture and killing of two activists last year.  Human Rights Watch has obtained what they say are authentic leaked documents implicating officials in the killing and is calling for the government to hold the officials accountable.  
 
Angola has been simmering politically for the last two years, as the nation has seen a series of mostly small-scale protests against President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, who has ruled since 1979.
 
The country's top opposition party is hoping to turn up the heat on the president, following allegations that government forces were responsible for the disappearance and death of two political activists.
 
The Union for the Total Independence of Angola, or UNITA, has called for mass protests on Saturday after reports surfaced linking the domestic intelligence service to the abduction, torture and killing of the two activists in May of 2012.

The two had been conducting a campaign to get unpaid benefits for war veterans.
 
Leslie Lefkow, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Africa division, says the details in the leaked documents match what her organization has been reporting in Angola.     
 
“... the short version is that they were abducted by police intelligence forces in Angola, and they were held, tortured and eventually killed, each of them, within a couple days of their abduction, and the bodies disposed of.  And these allegations are shocking, but in a way they are not surprising because Human Rights Watch and other organizations have documented disappearances, particularly detention and torture, of individuals in politically sensitive cases in Angola for many years," said Lefkow.
 
The government has not denied the reports, and has in fact announced an investigation and arrested four officials.  Last week, the president dismissed the head of the intelligence service.
 
Despite this, UNITA is calling for Dos Santos to step down over the affair.
 
Dos Santos’ party, the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola, accuses UNITA of trying to provoke unrest.  The parties fought each other during a 27-year civil war that ended in 2002.
 
Elias Isaac, the Angola country director for pro-democracy group the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), says Angola’s current problems go back more than a decade, to the war.
 
“So what happened in 2002 is that one side won the war and subjugated the other.  And what is happening right now is the ruling party that has won the war now is repressing all dissenting voices.  So the issue of political intolerance, the issue of national reconciliation, the issue of a pluralistic democratic society isn’t a reality in Angola, because there has been no reconciliation process in this country," said Isaac.
 
Isaac accused the ruling party of lacking the political will to address the needs of Angola’s poor and to democratize the country.  He proposed a solution, and urged Angolans to push for it.
 
“What Angola needs right now is new political leadership to take this country forward," he said.
 
HRW's Lefkow is calling on protesters to keep their demonstration peaceful, and urges the government to show restraint.  She also says that the international community has an important role to play, especially as Angola’s government seems concerned with improving its image.
 
“I think that Angola’s trade partners, donors and diplomatic community have an important role to play in raising these very serious concerns about Angola’s human rights record.  This case is not unique.  It’s emblematic of a broader pattern or torture, of arrests that we’ve seen over years now.  And the donor, and the diplomatic and the business community have been extraordinarily quiet on these concerns.  And I think that this is a very important moment to change tack," she said.

So far, the protests have not impacted Angola’s position as the second-largest oil producer in Africa, behind Nigeria.
 
But that standing is not what is important to most Angolans.
 
The International Monetary Fund says Angola is the fifth-richest nation in Africa.  But the World Bank says the average Angolan lives only to age 51, and UNICEF says more than half the population lives below the poverty level of $1.25 a day.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid