Angolan police at the weekend briefly detained dozens of protesters in the capital Luanda, after they tried to march in support of a group of young activists jailed for planning a rebellion against the president.
According to witnesses, armed police personnel rounded up the protesters as they gathered at the Independence Garden for the planned march in support of the 17 youth activists who were sentenced last month.
Among the 17 activists is prominent Angolan rapper Luaty Beirao (also known as Ikonoklasta), a known critic of president dos Santos who was sentenced to five and a half years.
They assaulted us for no reason at all while in custody.
At least 10 people were briefly detained today by the police in Angola, when they tried to protest against the arrest of 17 activists.— zenaida machado (@zenaidamz) April 9, 2016
A witness told Reuters that police kicked three people who gathered for Saturday’s demonstration, leaving one bleeding and unconscious, before a police vehicle took them away.
“They assaulted us for no reason at all while in custody,” Adolfo Campos, an activist who said he was briefly detained along with 24 other protesters, told Reuters.
The police were not immediately available to comment, reports Reuters.
Dos Santos, who has been in power since 1979, is Africa’s second longest-ruling leader. He has however said he will step down in 2018.
He is accused by critics of mismanaging Angola’s oil wealth and making an elite vastly rich in a country ranked amongst the world’s most corrupt.
The jailed activists were arrested in June after organising a reading of U.S. academic Gene Sharp’s 1993 book “From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation.” The book’s cover describes it as “a blueprint for non-violent resistance to repressive regimes.”
The activists were accused of acts of rebellion, planning mass civil disobedience in the capital and producing fake passports, among other charges.
Their sentences ranged from two years and three months to eight years and six months.