Posts Tagged ‘Luanda’

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