Angola: Treatment of protesters and activists advocating the release of Luaty Beirao, including during involvement in marches in 2015 and 2016; treatment of members and supporters of the group REVOS (2015-October 2016)
|Publisher||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Publication Date||19 October 2016|
|Citation / Document Symbol||AGO105644.E|
|Related Document(s)||Angola : information sur le traitement réservé aux manifestants et militants qui demandaient la libération de Luaty Beirao, y compris durant des manifestations en 2015 et 2016; le traitement réservé aux membres et partisans des REVOS (2015-octobre 2016)|
|Cite as||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Angola: Treatment of protesters and activists advocating the release of Luaty Beirao, including during involvement in marches in 2015 and 2016; treatment of members and supporters of the group REVOS (2015-October 2016), 19 October 2016, AGO105644.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/5821d897b.html [accessed 14 December 2017]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa
1. Arrest, Detention, and Release of Luaty Beirao Between 2015 and October 2016
For information on Luaty Beirao and his fellow activists, including their arrest, detention, and treatment by state authorities between June 2015 and March 2016, see Response to Information Request AGO105452 of March 2016.
Sources indicate that in late March 2016, a court in Angola sentenced 17 individuals, including Luaty Beirao, to prison for plotting against the President (African Exponent 30 Mar. 2016; Quartz 29 Mar. 2016). Similarly, Amnesty International (AI) reports that, on 28 March 2016, the Luanda Provincial Tribunal sentenced 17 individuals, including Luaty Beirao, to prison for periods ranging from 2 to 8.5 years (AI 29 Mar. 2016). According to sources, those imprisoned belonged to a "book club" (Quartz 29 Mar. 2016; Associate Professor 5 Oct. 2016; African Exponent 20 Mar. 2016). They were arrested after meeting to discuss Gene Sharp's book on non-violent protest entitled From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation (ibid.; The Guardian 13 Oct. 2015). Sources also refer to the arrested individuals as "activists" (African Exponent 30 Mar. 2016; AI 13 July 2016) and the "Angola17" (ibid.).
According to AI, on 29 June 2016, Angolan authorities conditionally released the 17 activists alongside "other progressive decisions related to a few other prisoners of conscience" (ibid. 28 Sept. 2016).
2. Treatment of Protesters and Activists Advocating the Release of Luaty Beirao
According to a July 2015 article published by the Russian news network Russia Today (RT), a protest organized in an effort to release the arrested book club members was [translation] "accused of trying to overthrow the President Jose Eduardo dos Santos" and was "nipped in the bud by the Angolan authorities" with the arrest of a journalist and five other individuals (RT 30 July 2015). An article published by the Guardian in October 2015 similarly indicates that activists who protested the arrest of Luaty Beirao in Luanda
met arrests, kidnapping, violence and an MPLA [Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola] counter-protest in the same square. The mothers, sisters and wives of the activists organized another demonstration on 8 August, the president's birthday, appealing to him as a father. But when they went to exercise their constitutional right, they were beaten and some were bitten by police dogs. (The Guardian 13 Oct. 2015)
The same source notes that some supporters of the imprisoned individuals protested by organizing "four consecutive nights of vigils," the last of which was "dispersed peacefully when it was surrounded by police with water canons and canine units, despite sitting peacefully and praying silently in front of a church" (ibid.).
According to AI, Francisco Mapanda, "also known as Dago Nivel Intelecto," was sentenced to 8 months imprisonment at Comarca de Viana Prison "following the sentencing of 17 Angolan youth activists, known as the Angola 17," for "sa[ying] out loud that 'the trial was a farce'" during the court proceedings against the group (AI 13 July 2016). A subsequent AI report published on 28 September 2016 notes that the imprisoned Francisco Mapanda relied on food delivered by his relatives (ibid. 28 Sept. 2016). The source reports that Mapanda was transferred to Comarca de Caquila prison on 3 September 2016 and that he "was beaten by prison officials for asking that his family be informed of the prison transfer before he agreed to it" (ibid.).
In a telephone interview with the Research Directorate, an associate professor at Indiana University, who has written on Angolan politics and culture, stated that
supporters of the book club include family members and friends of the 17 imprisoned members, many of whom had to travel long distances to deliver food to the imprisoned members. They were, however, denied the rights to meet with the "prisoners". (Associate Professor 5 Oct. 2016)
Further and corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.
3. Information on REVOS
Information on the group REVOS could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.
According to the Associate Professor, a group spelled as "REVUS," which stands for "revolutionaries," is "a big tent name" that "is used both by those in the Movimento Revolucionário [Angolano (MRA), or Revolutionary Movement of Angola] to describe themselves and by others to disparage any critics of the government (Associate Professor 5 Oct. 2016). The same source added that, "similar to the Book Club, the REVUS group is a non-hierarchical form of organization with people from different backgrounds, some of which are not even activists" (ibid.). The Associate Professor stressed that REVUS is not "a structured organization" and that it has no intent of becoming another political party (ibid.).
In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a senior lecturer at the Global Studies Institute of the University of Geneva whose current research focuses on public authority and statehood in Angola, stated that
the "REVÙS" (revolutionaries) were gathered around the slogan "32 years is a lot," which refers to the number of years that President dos Santos had spent in power at the time of their first public protest in 2011. This claim expresses the desire for a regime change. They believe that the ruling regime is corrupt, more concerned about its own material interests and the unbridled desire to enrich themselves at the cost of the people's well-being. More broadly, the claims of the movement are related to all social inequalities in the country.
Since it is a deliberately loosely structured movement, [and part] of a network, it is not obvious to identify its [the Revolutionary Movement's] leaders. We cannot say that the movement has clearly identified leaders. Several [leaders] emerged at different times in its short history. Since its creation, the government has adopted a dual strategy towards the movement: repression on the one hand, and attempts to co-opt the movement on the other. Attempts [by the government to co-opt] the movement have led some to turn their coat and thus caused divisions within the movement. (Senior Lecturer 3 Mar. 2016)
Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.
For more information on the MRA, including treatment of its members, see Response to Information Request AGO105452 of March 2016.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
African Exponent. 30 March 2016. Kajuju Murori. "Outrageous: Angola Sentences a Rapper and His Book Club for 'Rebellion'." [Accessed 28 Sept. 2016]
Amnesty International (AI). 28 September 2016. "Taking Action for an Activist." [Accessed 12 Oct. 2016]
Amnesty International. 13 July 2016. "Urgent Action - Angolan Youth Activist Must Be Released, Additional Information." [Accessed 12 Oct. 2016]
Amnesty International. 29 March 2016. "Angola: Conviction of 17 Peaceful Activist an Affront to Justice." [Accessed 12 Oct. 2016]
Associate Professor, Department of History, Indiana University. 5 October 2016. Telephone Interview.
The Guardian. 13 October 2015. Marissa Moorman. "Watch out Angola - Repression Only Generates More Dissent." [Accessed 30 Sept. 2016]
Quartz. 29 March 2016. Lily Kuo. "Angola Has Sentenced a Rapper and His Book Club to Prison." [Accessed 5 Oct. 2016]
Russia Today (RT). 30 July 2015. "Manifestation réprimée et journalistes emprisonnés en Angola." [Accessed 5 Oct. 2016]
Senior Lecturer, Global Studies Institute, University of Geneva. 3 March 2016. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.
Additional Sources Consulted
Oral sources: representative, Maka Angola.
Internet sites, including: ACAT France; The Africa Report; Agence France-Presse; Al Jazeera; All Africa; Angola News Agency; Arterial Network; Associated Press; Association for Justice, Peace and Democracy; BBC; club-k.net; Deutsche Welle; ecoi.net; France24; Freedom House; Front Line Defenders; Global Information Network; Human Rights Watch; Jane's Intelligence Review; Jornal de Angola; Libération; Maka Angola; news24.com; Okay Africa; Radio France internationale; UN - Refworld; Vice News; Voice of America; The Wall Street Journal; The Washington Post; Xinhua News Agency.