Press Release — Angola: HRF Condemns Convictions and Demands Release of Youth Activists

NEW YORK - Human Rights Foundation (HRF) strongly condemns today’s convictions and sentences handed down by a court in Luanda against a group of 17 youth activists for reading a book that advocates nonviolent resistance to dictatorship.

HRF calls on the Angolan government to vacate the convictions and release the activists immediately. 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.

“Today, 17 young men and women have been punished for holding a book discussion about the nonviolent resistance tactics of heroes like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Dictator José Eduardo dos Santos is so threatened by Angolans’ eagerness for democracy that he is trying to ban their ability to discuss literature he deems subversive,” said HRF president Thor Halvorssen. “Unlike Nikki Minaj who sang for the dictatorship a couple of months ago, these young activists, including a renowned rapper, have lived all their lives under the tyranny of a single ruler and should be free to express their opinions and call for change. They must be released immediately,” added Halvorssen.

All but two activists sentenced today are part of a movement advocating democratic change in Angola known as “Angola 15.” They were arrested and detained in June 2015 after they met to discuss Gene Sharp’s 1993 classic “From Dictatorship to Democracy. A Conceptual Framework for Liberation” — a book on nonviolent tactics human rights defenders and prodemocracy activist may use to resist dictatorship. In December 2015, they were released following an international outcry, but they were ordered to remain under arrest today following the sentencing hearing.

Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.

Contact: Noemi Gonzalo-Bilbao, (212) 246-8486, noemi@hrf.org

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