Protests mark a year since #Angola17 arrests


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.

Details of the worldwide protests on and around Liberation Day can be found here 


Filmmakers’ investigation shows how Angola’s regime attacks critics

Documentary It Is Forbidden to Talk in Angola tells the story of the 15 young adults who were accused of planning a rebellion against the government of José Eduardo Dos Santos for taking part in a book club. It is released for the first time with English subtitles by Index in conjunction with Brazil’s award-winning investigative journalists Agencia Publica.

Filmed over 25 days by award-winning journalists Natalia Viana and Eliza Capai from Agencia Publica, It Is Forbidden to Talk in Angola tells the story of the young rappers and activists who are being tried for reading a book by US Nobel Prize nominee Gene Sharp, called From Dictatorship to Democracy, A Conceptual Framework for Liberation.

The activists are facing trial on charges of “preparing acts of rebellion and plotting against the president and state institutions”, which are considered crimes against the security of the Angolan state. If found guilty they could face heavy prison sentences of up to 12 years. Some of the 15 jailed activists were kept in pre-trial detention for 177 days, exceeding the 90 days allowed by Angolan law.

The activists were told on 15 December that they would be sent home and placed under house arrest, according to

Some of the jailed activists went on hunger strike to protest their arrest and detention. Rapper Henrique Luaty Beirão ended his hunger strike on October 27, after 36 days, following requests by his family and friends. He remains in serious condition.

Viana and Capai met several members of Central Angola, a community journalist and activist website whose members have received threats, have been beaten and are constantly surveilled by the security services of the Angolan government. Laurinda Gouveia, a 26-year old philosophy student, told the interviewers how she was beaten with metal bars for two hours in November 2014 for filming a small protest against the government.

“I felt their anger when the police beat me up. They kept saying: ‘You shouldn’t get involved in this, you are a woman, you should think about having a husband and a family… By the way we are beating you up, you will not be able to have babies’,” Gouveia told the journalists.

Following the interview, Gouveia was included in the state prosecutor’s investigation and is now on trial with her colleagues.

Viana and Capai also interviewed rapper Beirão’s family, after which the two journalists were targeted by Angolan authorities. Five days later, while in a public square during an event to mark the president’s birthday, the journalists said they were attacked by two members of the security forces. Disguised as “thieves”, the individuals stole the journalists’ equipment. Shaken, the two sought protection from the Brazilian embassy.

It Is Forbidden to Talk in Angola is a first-hand account of how Dos Santos’ regime works to intimidate anyone who questions his power, and it is released here for the first time with English subtitles.

Agencia Publica is a non-profit investigative journalism organisation that seeks to provide non-partisan reporting in the public interest on Brazilian and Latin American issues.