News / Africa

HRW: Angola’s Government Stifles Recent Protest Attempts

FILE - Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos.
FILE - Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos.
Anita Powell
Opposition appears to be growing in the oil-rich African nation of Angola to the rule of President José Eduardo dos Santos. The Angolan Revolutionary Movement has long accused the president of 34 years of mismanaging Angola's oil revenues and suppressing human rights - a charge supported by a top human rights watchdog.  
 
New York-based Human Rights Watch says Angola has seen a new crackdown on those who have peacefully protested against the longtime regime of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos.
 
Just last week, the organization said Angolan police arrested 22 protesters who were attempting to demonstrate in the capital, Luanda.  The rights group says two of the people arrested gave accounts of being beaten and mistreated in custody.
 
Leslie Lefkow, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Africa division, says the government is stifling dissent.
 
“What we’ve seen is really an increasingly authoritarian government in Angola that allows no margin for independent voices, or criticism," Lefkow said. "And those individuals who do put their heads above the parapet and voice criticism are really clamped down on very, very harshly.  And one of the reasons why I think they have reacted so strongly to these protests in the last couple of years is because there is probably a recognition that their political position is precarious." 

Protests have been simmering in Angola since 2011, in part inspired by the pro-democratic uprisings of the Arab Spring.
 
One of the prominent groups protesting is the Angolan Revolutionary Movement, which accuses dos Santos of mismanaging oil revenues.  Human Rights Watch says some of the dissenters are former combatants who fought in the nation’s 27-year civil war and who say they have not been taken care of since fighting ended in 2002.
 
Angolan officials did not answer calls seeking comment.  

The government’s official news portal did not appear to cover the protests or the arrests.  But the day before last week’s protest, the nation’s police spokesman said on state television that the government would “vehemently repress all acts that go against order and public security, and we will use force if it is necessary."

Despite the nation’s vast wealth in natural resources, many Angolans remain desperately poor.  The average life expectancy is just 51 years, according to the World Bank, below the average for sub-Saharan Africa. UNICEF says more than half the population lives below the poverty level - set at $1.25 per day.

Lefkow says no one wants to see a return to violence - and urged Angola’s government to open itself up for criticism.  
 
“I think that the problem beyond the fact that Angola is violating its own constitution, that it’s abrogating the rights of its people with these kinds of actions," she said.  "Beyond that kind of legal concern is the issue that not allowing people to peacefully protest, to peacefully exercise their views, to express their opinions and to call for accountability and transparency is a real recipe for future problems."

On Monday, the government released seven of the remaining people who were taken into custody at the protests.  Their lawyer said there was not sufficient evidence against them to hold them any longer.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid