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

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs