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Angola: Continued imprisonment of 17 activists a gross injustice

    June 17, 2016

    Angolan authorities must immediately and unconditionally release the 17 activists arrested on trumped up charges, said Amnesty International today as demonstrations take place in several cities around the world to mark the first anniversary of their arrest.

    The 17 were charged with “preparatory acts of rebellion” (actos preparatórios de rebelião) and “criminal conspiracy” and handed down conviction and sentences ranging from two and eight-and-a-half years after being arrested for attending a meeting where they discussed politics and governance concerns.

    “One year on, it is completely unacceptable that these 17 activists are still in prison when there was no basis for their arrest in the first place,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Arica.

    “By keeping these young innocent activists behind bars for a year now, Angolan authorities have grossly violated their rights. Their sentences must be overturned and they must be immediately and unconditionally released.”

    Amnesty International considers them prisoners of conscience.

    Demonstrations are due to take place in Lisbon, Paris, Brussels and Johannesburg as well as in six different places across Angola.

    Amnesty International is urging the authorities to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly of protesters and to ensure that all demonstrations take place in accordance with the country’s international human rights obligations and commitments.

    “On the anniversary of their arrest, people around the world have come together to demand the release of these 17 activists,” said Deprose Muchena.

    “The eyes of the world are on Angola and the authorities must waste no time in doing the right thing and overturn their convictions and sentences and end this blatant miscarriage of justice.”

    Background

    Fifteen activists were arrested between 20 and 24 June 2015 after attending a meeting in Luanda to discuss politics and governance concerns.

    Two other activists had been charged alongside them, but were not detained.

    The 17 were convicted on 28 March and handed down sentences ranging from two and eight-and-a-half years after a highly flawed trial which did not meet fair trial standards.

    Demonstrations and events will be held in Angola, Belgium, France, Portugal and South Africa between 18 and 24 June.

    Scheduled demonstrations include:

    18 June: Brussels - Parc du Cinquantenaire- 11PM.

    19 June: Lobito - In the roundabout in upper side of the dump site - 6PM

    Luanda - Football field of church São Domingos - 3PM

    20 June: Luanda - Sambizanga – Boavista's roundabout - 12PM

    Luanda - Cacuaco – Paragem da Vila – 12PM

    Luanda - Viana – Alimenta Angola da Estalagem – 12PM

    Luanda - Belas – Camana's roundabout – 12PM

    Lisbon - Rossio – 7PM

    21 June: Paris - Parvis de L’Église Saint Bernard, 18éme – 9PM

    24 June :  Johannesburg - The Consulate General of Angola, 15 Zulberg Close, Bruma -10AM

     

    For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

    Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

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