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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid