Demonstrations are being held in Brussels, Luanda, Pretoria and Paris to mark one year since the arrest of an Angolan book club’s members.
20 June has been named Liberation Day in solidarity with the group of 17 young men who received sentences between two and eight-and-a-half years in March. They were convicted of preparing acts of rebellion and conspiring against the government.
The majority of the group (15) were were arrested last June while holding a meeting to discuss politics and democracy in the country, which has been ruled by President Eduardo dos Santos for 36 years. They had been reading a book about non-violent resistance by Nobel Prize nominee Gene Sharp.
Relatives, human rights groups and the press have reported severe concerns about the prisoners’ deteriorating health.
Rapper Luaty Beirão has attempted to protest his five-year sentence with a hunger strike. Friends managing his Facebook said that he has recently been experiencing intense fevers and the Portuguese press has reported he is being treated for malaria.
Nuno Dala, a university lecturer who is part of the jailed group, also carried out a 36-day hunger strike after packages sent to him from relatives failed to be delivered and he was refused access to books. Last month saw the release of Dala’s own book, The Political Thought of Young Revus: Speech and Action, which he was working on when he was arrested. The launch coincided with his daughter’s first birthday.
Amnesty International, which has declared the 17 as prisoners of conscience and launched a petition to demand their release, said, “They should not have spent a single day in prison and must be released immediately and unconditionally.”
The 17 jailed activists are Henrique Luaty da Silva Beirão, Manuel Chivonde (Nito Alves), Nuno Álvaro Dala, Afonso Matias (Mbanza Hanza), Nelson Dibango Mendes dos Santos, Hitler Jessy Chivonde (Hitler Samussuko), Albano Evaristo Bingobingo, Sedrick de Carvalho, Fernando António Tomás (Nicolas o Radical), Arante Kivuvu Italiano Lopes, Benedito Jeremias, José Gomes Hata (Cheick Hata), Inocêncio Antônio de Brito, Osvaldo Sérgio Correia Caholo, Domingos da Cruz, Laurinda Gouveia and Rosa Conde.