A group of anti-government youth activists including rapper ‘Hexplosivo Mental’ were attacked, beaten and some hospitalised during a meeting in the Angolan capital Luanda, prompting Amnesty International to call for a full and impartial investigation into the incident.
‘Hexplosivo Mental’, known for his anti-government lyrics, along with Angolan activists and human rights defenders have been the target of numerous assaults and intimidations in recent months.
“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.
“The Angolan authorities must protect the rights of this group and others to freedom of association and assembly. They need to take steps immediately to protect these freedoms by ensuring that an independent investigation is carried out and those responsible are brought to justice.”
This latest assault took place on Tuesday evening in the house of popular rap musician Carbono Casimiro, whose home reportedly came under attack from unknown gunmen last year.
The activists, who have set up the website Central 7311 which among other things documents violence in relation to peaceful demonstrations in the country, were also attacked while trying to hold a protest in Luanda in March this year.
Since March 2011, several demonstrations in Luanda calling for an end to President José Eduardo dos Santos’ 32 year rule have been met with excessive force by police, including the apparent improper use of dogs and firearms against those protesting peacefully.
Unknown individuals have reportedly infiltrated the demonstrations, vandalized property and beaten protestors and journalists covering the protests.
Police have failed to respond to violence perpetuated by these individuals and rather than arresting alleged infiltrators, protestors and journalists have been arbitrarily detained.
Youths who have helped organise peaceful protests against the President since last year, as well as some journalists who have covered these demonstrations, have also received personal threats from anonymous individuals telling them to stop demonstrating or face the consequences.
In March 2012 an anonymous group claiming to be defenders of national peace, security and democracy started distributing notes in Luanda stating that they would not allow protestors to create confusion and disorder..
State media aired threats by an individual claiming to be a representative of this group and although police authorities have stated that investigations are being carried out, no progress has been made.
“There are fears that violence and intimidation will escalate in the coming weeks and months as elections at the end of August approach.” said Miti.
“The Angolan constitution guarantees the right to carry out peaceful demonstrations. It’s time that the authorities show that they are willing to protect this fundamental right.”