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

    South Sudan Sends First Ever Official Olympic Team to Rio

    VOA caught up with Santino Kenyi, 16, one of three athletes who will compete in this year's summer games in Brazil

    Arrest of Malawi's 'Hyena' Man Highlights Clash of Ritual, Health and Women's Rights

    Ritual practice of deflowering young girls is blamed for spreading deadly AIDS virus

    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    VOA finds things Americans take for granted are special to foreigners

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora