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

Diplomats Work to Extend Arab-Israeli Cease-Fire

Top officials from the US, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Turkey and Qatar gather in Paris, while Israel security forces continue searching for tunnels used by militants and Gazan rescue workers search for bodies More

Photogallery US Defense Department Warns of Arms to Eastern Ukraine

‘Imminent’ delivery of Russian rocket launcher poses threat to civilians, US says More

Video Researchers: Africa Genetically Modified Crops Held Back by Scaremongering

GM crops offer best hope of increasing productivity and coping with climate change in Africa, according to co-author of Chatham House report More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
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.

AppleAndroid