Amnesty, opposition condemn attack on Angola protesters

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Amnesty International and Angolan opposition party UNITA urged authorities to investigate an attack by unidentified men on the home of an Angolan anti-government protest organiser earlier this week that left three injured.

A youth protest movement has organised several rallies in the last year, accusing President Jose Eduardo dos Santos of disregarding human rights and urging him to quit after 32 years in power in Africa’s second-largest oil producer after Nigeria.

According to media reports, 15 armed men in plain clothes and wearing masks on Tuesday night raided a meeting at the home protest organiser and rap musician Casimiro Carbono, causing injuries to three of the ten youths present, Reuters reports.
“This brutal beating highlights the ongoing threat of violence that anyone speaking up for free speech in Angola faces,” said Muluka-Anne Miti, Amnesty International’s Angola researcher in a statement published on its website.

No one at the Angolan police, the government or the presidency was available to comment on the matter.

Though small, most of the protests have been blocked by police and pro-government supporters, with many ending in violent clashes with injuries to protesters and journalists.

Amnesty said the police “have failed to respond to violence perpetuated by these individuals and rather than arresting alleged infiltrators, protesters and journalists have been arbitrarily detained”.

UNITA, the country’s main opposition party which lost a 27-year civil war against Dos Santos’ MPLA party a decade ago, also urged the government to act.
“UNITA vehemently condemns this behaviour and urges the relevant authorities to bring justice against the authors of such hideous criminality,” it said in an emailed statement.

Dos Santos’ government has long been accused of avoiding public scrutiny and doing too little to fight widespread corruption and poverty.

The MPLA is still widely expected to win a parliamentary election to be held on August 31, which will be only the second in Angola after the end of the war. Under a constitution passed in 2010, the head of the winning party in a parliamentary ballot becomes president.

Dos Santos has not yet said he will lead the MPLA in the election, but is widely expected to do so in coming weeks.