Posts Tagged ‘Angola’

Why do Gandhi and Martin Luther King scare the Angolan government?

March 29, 2016

On 28 March 2016 the New York based Human Rights Foundation strongly condemned the convictions and sentences handed down by a court in Angola against a group of 17 youth activists for reading a book that advocates nonviolent resistance to dictatorship. The court declared the activists — including prominent Angolan rapper Luaty Beirão — guilty of “rebellion against the president” and “planning a coup,” sentencing them to prison terms that range from two to eight years. Beirao, also known by his stage name Ikonoklasta, has been an outspoken critic of the government, calling for a fairer distribution of the southern African state’s oil wealth. His term is five-and-a-half years.

Angola: HRF Condemns Convictions and Demands Release of Youth ActivistsSource: Vice News

Read the rest of this entry »

Merry Christmas in Angola: Nicki Minaj performs but not for human rights defenders

December 18, 2015

  Nicki minaj algora.

Nicki Minaj and Jose Eduardo dos Santos. Photo illustration by Sofya Levina. Images by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images and Alexander Joe/Getty Images.

The Human Rights Foundation (through  and ) is asking whether Nicki Minaj will “take the high road or a blood diamond paycheck“?  On Saturday afternoon the American rapper Nicki Minaj will bring her award-winning talent to the Angolan capital of Luanda. It isn’t a world tour stop, but a special engagement at a “Christmas Festival” sponsored by Unitel, a telecommunications company controlled by Angola’s dictatorship.

[Two years ago, Mariah Carey was paid $1 million to perform in Angola at another one of the regime’s holiday parties. Since she had promised to never perform for dictators again after singing for Libya’s Qaddafi family, the public wasn’t forgiving the second time around. The result was a global PR scandal that led Carey to sever ties with Jermaine Dupri, the manager who arranged the visit. – https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/mariah-carey-needs-better-informed-staff-and-donate-her-1-million-fee-to-human-rights-defenders-in-angola/].

The situation of human rights defenders in Angola is most precarious:

15 pro-democracy activists were detained in June 2015 and their trial started only after almost five months of arbitrary detention. The persons on trial include rapper (!) Henrique Luaty Beirão (a.k.a. Brigadeiro Mata-Frakuxz), Manuel Nito Alves, Nuno Alvaro Dala, Nelson Dibango Mendes Dos Santos, Alfonso Jojo Matias (a.k.a. Mbanza Hamza), Sedrick de Carvalho, Fernando António Tómas (a.k.a. Nicola Radical), Hitler Chiconda (a.k.a. Samussuku), Italiano Arante Kivuvu, Benedito Dali (a.k.a. Dito Dali), Albano Bingobingo (a.k.a. Albano Liberdade), José Gomes Hata (a.k.a. Cheik Hata), Inocénio De Brito (a.k.a. Drux), Domingos da Cruz as well as of Osvaldo Caholo. (Ms. Rosa Kusso Conde and Ms. Laurinda Manuel Gouveia are also facing the same charges, but are not detained. [The Angola 15 are youth activists arrested in June 2015 for discussing democratic reforms and peaceful protest. Most of them are known pro-democracy activists, who have been organizing peaceful protests often repressed by the authorities against the 35-year-regime of Angolan President Eduardo Dos Santos since 2011. On September 16, 2015, they were charged with “preparatory acts of rebellion” and “plotting against the President and other institutions”, both of which constitute crimes against the security of the Angolan State. Several experts and international institutions have called for their release, including the European Parliament and the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst.]

On 15 December 2015 the Luanda Provincial Tribunal approved the request of the Public Prosecutor to place the pro-democracy activists detained since June 2015 under house arrest as of December 18. According to a public statement made by the General Attorney, this decision precedes the entry into force on December 18, 2015, of a new legislation on preventive measures adopted in September 2015, aimed at reducing prison overcrowding and excessive pre-trial detentions – and thus not the result of international pressure!. “The decision to place the Angola 15 under house arrest is a positive step towards the recognition of their rights. The Angolan authorities must now end all forms of judicial harassment against the activists and put an end to their ordeal by immediately and unconditionally releasing them”, FIDH President Karim Lahidji said

On 18 June 2015 the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders condemned the sentencing of journalist Rafael Marques de Morais to a six month suspended jail term, despite an out of court settlement previously announced. [see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/rafael-marques-de-morais/]

Interesting is also to note here how two quasi-NGOs (in the NGO world, called GONGOs – Governmental Non-Governmental Organizations –  masquerading as protectors of the rights of the people while working as the mouthpiece for the government) tried to block a resolution by the NGO forum surrounding the session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in November 2015.

Front Line Defenders also has followed the case of the Angola 15 and other human rights defenders in detail: https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/search/node/angola 

Sources:

Nicki Minaj shouldn’t perform for Angolan dictator Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

http://www.omct.org/human-rights-defenders/urgent-interventions/angola/2015/12/d23533/

https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/angola-the-angola-15-must-be-released-and-their-right-to-a-fair-trial

http://newint.org/blog/2015/12/16/angola-human-rights-trial/

http://allafrica.com/stories/201511051396.html

https://www.fidh.org/en/region/Africa/angola/angola-rafael-marques-de-morais-sentenced-to-a-six-month-suspended

Will Angola persists with defamation charges against ‘Blood Diamonds’ journalist today?

May 28, 2015

Investigative journalist Rafael Marques de Morais is due to appear in court today in Angola for sentencing. On 25 May the Public Prosecutor in his trial requested that the judge convict him of criminal defamation and sentence him to 30 days in prison, only four days after the announcement of the Lunda Provincial Tribunal that charges against Mr. Marques de Morais had been dropped!“ After more than two years of continuous judicial harassment, solely based on Mr. Marques de Morais human rights activities, this last decision makes yet another mockery of justice in Angola ”, said Karim Lahidji, FIDH President.

[Mr. Marques de Morais is a well-known Angolan journalist and editor of an Angolan anti-corruption website,who has been facing continuous judicial harassment since the publication in 2011, of his book, “Blood Diamonds : Corruption and Torture in Angola”, in which he documents and denounces the corruption, allegations of homicides, torture, forced eviction of civilian settlements and intimidation of inhabitants of the diamond-mining areas of Angola’s Lundas region by some state agents and business entrepreneurs.]

He is same Rafael Marques de Morais, who was quoted in my post of 19 December 2013 about Mariah Carey performing for the President that “the presidency was happy to cover the capital in posters of her performance, but on November 23 the presidential guards murdered an activist in custody for posting fliers. Those fliers were a peaceful protest of the murder of other activists disappeared by state police. How does Mariah Carey, the artist and humanist, who so often speaks about human rights, feel about that?…..The Angolan Red Cross gala raised $65,000. Mariah Carey’s transportation alone cost several times that number. It’s absolutely shameless,” added de Morais. [from https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/mariah-carey-needs-better-informed-staff-and-donate-her-1-million-fee-to-human-rights-defenders-in-angola/#more-4223] Read the rest of this entry »

And the Nominees Are……Oscars for Human-Rights !!

February 28, 2014

Regular readers of this blog know that I like the idea of holding  celebrities accountable (most recently: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/star-power-and-human-rights-a-difficult-but-doable-mix/).   The reason is that there is a mutually reinforcing (and for many profitable) interaction between the stars and the media (which in turn feed on the interest of the public). Celebrities’ views on all kind of issues – including human rights –  can hardly be called private. Their social media are virtual industries and influence millions globally. So it seems a good idea to have an annual look at which celebrities have advanced and which have harmed the cause of human rights around the world. Halvorssen and Leigh Hancock ( of the Human Rights Foundation) have done exactly that in the Atlantic on 27 February 2004 and linked it to the upcoming Oscars night on Sunday. 

(Gary Hershorn/Reuters)

The list of celebrities deserving recognition for their accomplishments in the field of human rights or those who should be ashamed for supporting human-rights violators, is long and contains many video links. Like the real Oscars, the list is slanted in terms of geopolitical interest and I think that if all major international human rights organisations would get together to agree on a list if would be more balanced, but that is probably wishful thinking. Still, the Human Rights Foundation deserves credit for this creative initiative. and here is the summary:

The Nominees for Outstanding Work in the Field of Human Rights Read the rest of this entry »

Star power and human rights: a difficult but doable mix

February 10, 2014

RED-FACED. Jennifer Lopez performing for the leader of 'one of the world's most repressive regimes,' according to Human Rights Watch. Photo by Agence France-Presse/Igor Sasin

 (Jennifer Lopez performing for the leader Turkmenistan. (c) Agence France-Presse/Igor Sasin)

In quite a few earlier posts in this blog I have drawn attention to stars and celebrities who either support dictators or simply do not care that their actions do. So, I was quite happy to see a thoughtful piece by Jo Biddle of Agence France-Presse on 9 February 2014 analyzing this issue a bit more in-depth, with actress Scarlett Johansson as the “poster girl of Israeli apartheid”, Dennis Rodman in North Korea, and Kim Kardashian expressing her love of Bahrain. I would add, Mariah Carey who thinks nothing of singing for Gaddafi or the Angolan President, while Jennifer Lopez (picture above) did the same in Turkmenistan.

The author rightly states that when celebrities wander into complex foreign policy issues, it can be a minefield, leaving diplomats and human rights campaigners scrambling for damage control. The article mentions exceptions such as Bob Geldof, Bono, George Clooney or Angelina Jolie Read the rest of this entry »

Mariah Carey needs better-informed staff and donate her 1 million fee to Human Rights Defenders in Angola

December 19, 2013

Mariah Carey Celebrates Angola’s Dictator, his Family, and Their Ill-Gotten Wealth

Mariah Carey poses with José Eduardo dos Santos, the 34-year dictator of Angola, his wife, and his daughter Isabel—Angola’s only billionaire

 

 

 

The Human Rights Foundation has lately been targeting celebrities who give their voice and reputation to bad causes and I think it is an excellent idea. Some celebrities do good work (think of Barbara Hendricks or Angelina Jolie), most are not interested but there is no reason why some should go out of their way to give support to dictators. There is no financial or diplomatic necessity. So, it is good to highlight Mariah Carey‘s concert on 15 December during a gala for the Angolan Red Cross, which was sponsored by Unitel (President José Eduardo dos Santos billionaire daughter Isabel owns Unitel and is also president of the Angolan Red Cross). “Mariah Carey can’t seem to get enough dictator cash, reportedly more than $1 million dollars this time. Read the rest of this entry »

Situation of human rights defenders in Africa – overview by Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

November 6, 2013

The OMCT and the FIDH, in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, made an intervention under agenda item 9: “Situation of human rights defenders” at the at the 54th session of African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights [ACHPR] on 5 November.logo FIDH_seulOMCT-LOGO

Human rights defenders were attacked, received threats or were slandered in the DRCSenegal and Tunisia. In some cases they were even killed, as in the DRC and in Cameroonin a climate of impunity. Defenders, and in particular defenders of economic, social and cultural rights, also continued to be subjected to arbitrary arrests and judicial harassment in AngolaCameroon, the DRCEgyptMauritania and Tunisia. Obstacles to freedom of association were also recorded, as for instance in AngolaEgypt and Rwanda. A summary is as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

Five Human Rights Defenders Awarded in African Region

October 24, 2013

The Pan African Human Rights Defenders Network, one of the regional partners of the MEA, on 22 October, awarded 5 activists with its Africa Human Rights Defenders Award. The winners of this first edition are:

  • Imam Baba Leigh from the Gambia (released on 11 May from jail as reported in this blog)
  • Paulete Oyane Onda from Gabon,
  • Livingstone Sewanyana from Uganda,
  • Yara Sallam from Egypt and
  • Maria Lucia Inacio da Silveira from Angola.

via Imam Baba Leigh, 4 other Human Rights Defenders Awarded – Foroyaa Newspaper.

Angola rights groups denounce rising police violence but it continues

September 29, 2013

On 4 September human rights groups in Angola denounced an escalation in police brutality against civilians since the start of the year in the oil-rich nation. “In recent months we have seen high levels of police violence in Angola against peaceful protests, street vendors, journalists, activists and human rights defenders,” a group of 20 organisations said in a statement. The groups criticised the “inhumane and cruel” treatment of prison inmates, after a video showing police and firemen beating prisoners in the capital Luanda was widely circulated on social networks. The broad coalition of human rights, environmental and development organisations across the country collaborate under an umbrella organisation, the Working Group for the Monitoring of Human Rights in Angola. The country’s interior ministry has condemned the violence and launched an inquiry to find the culprits. Since the end of a civil war a decade ago Angola’s economy has grown fast, and the country is now Africa’s second-largest oil producer after Nigeria. But most of its citizens live in poverty, and civil society groups as well as international organisations regularly complain of police abuse. “Our political governance system was built on violence and the exclusion of the poor or those who are different. That is what we should attack,” said Elias Isaac from the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa.

“The arrests and assaults on peaceful protesters and journalists are a heavy-handed attempt to silence people who have every right to express their views. Angola’s government should swiftly reverse course, free those wrongly jailed, and investigate the police officers responsible.” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director of Human Rights Watch on 23 SeptemberOn September 19, 2013, police arrested 22 protesters who sought to demonstrate near Independence Square in Luanda and hand out leaflets calling for social justice. Two released that day were quoted in local media alleging that they were beaten and otherwise mistreated in custody. On September 20, three journalists who sought to interview some newly freed protesters were themselves arrested, threatened, and beaten by the police….The three journalists told Human Rights Watch that they were conducting the interviews on the street about three hundred meters away from the court when approximately forty heavily armed rapid intervention police officers arrived in five cars with sirens, including two armored vehicles. They arrested the three journalists, seven of the just-released protesters, and a businessman who had being filming the incident from a nearby office building. All were taken to a rapid intervention police command center where they were ill-treated and threatened. The mistreatment of the journalists was a clear attempt to intimidate the media, Human Rights Watch said.

Since 2011, inspired by popular uprisings in the Middle East, a small, peaceful movement of Angolan activist groups has sought to protest corruption, restrictions on free speech and other rights, and rising inequality in the oil-rich country. Angolan police and security agents have repeatedly disrupted peaceful protests organized by different groups, including youths and war veterans. Police regularly use unnecessary or excessive force and arbitrarily detain protesters. The state media have staged a campaign calling any antigovernment protest an attempt to “wage war.” In a country at peace for the first time in the last decade, such campaigns have raised fear among the population. Journalists and other observers who seek to document the protests and the government’s response have been regularly harassed, detained, and sometimes mistreated.

via Angola rights groups denounce rising police violence | GlobalPost and

http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/09/23/angola-new-crackdown-peaceful-dissent

 

Angola: Human Rights Defenders are still facing many obstacles says recent NGO report

May 22, 2013

Angola: From Theory to Practice – Its Time to Guarantee the Capacity of Human Rights Defenders to Act” (original:  ANGOLA: Da Teoria à Prática – É hora de garantir a capacidade de atuação dos defensores dos direitos humanos) is the title of the report (preliminary findings) published today by The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture OMCT.logo FIDH_seul

OMCT-LOGOThe Observatory carried out a fact-finding mission in Angola, from April 21 to May 1, 2013, to analyse the context in which human rights defenders are operating in the country. The mission delegation met with, amongst others, members of human rights NGOs, journalists, lawyers, artists, along with representatives of national authorities, political parties and foreign diplomatic missions. Read the rest of this entry »