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

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs