Angola: Freemuse calls for immediate release of detained rapper
On 15 October 2015, the 33-year-old Angolan rapper Luaty Beirão entered his fourth week of hunger strike in protest of his detention without trial since June – along with 14 other opposition activists accused of ‘rebellion’ and of seeking to ‘attack the president’.
Freemuse holds the Angolan authorities responsible for Luaty Beirão’s well-being and calls for the immediate release of Beirão and his fellow dissenters. Their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of opinion and expression have been gravely violated.
Freemuse appeals to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association and the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression to address concern to the Angolan Government.
Luaty Beirão’s brother Peter Beirão has told AFP that Luaty’s health is deteriorating.
“His health is significantly compromised. The consequences of this could be tragic not just for this young man, his family and friends, but for Angola’s political future,” wrote Marissa Moorman in The Guardian on 13 October 2015. Vigils began in Angola’s capital Luanda when people began to get reports of Beirão’s failing health.
Marissa Moorman reported: “The past days have witnessed four consecutive nights of vigils for Beirão, and the other prisoners – Marcos Mavunga, a civil society activist recently sentenced to a six-year prison term in a trial Amnesty International called a “travesty of justice”, and two young women also named in the state’s case against the book group.
The fourth vigil 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.
Collectively, the jailed men, Mavunga and the indicted women have become known as the 15+1+2. One sign at the vigil announced “15+1+2=24.3 million” (Angola’s total population).
Repression generates more dissent. The prisoners ought to be able to await trial in their homes, as the law permits. In so doing, the state would save a life, forgo a martyr, and step closer to dialogue.”
Reputation for human rights abuses
“Elias Isaac, Angola country director of the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa, said the hunger strike has attracted unprecedented levels of attention among Angolans and is sparking renewed scrutiny of Mr dos Santos’s regime, which has garnered a reputation for human rights abuses, cracking down on dissenters and limiting press freedom,” reported Financial Times.
“President dos Santos and the MPLA, it seems, are scared of peace and quiet. They have no one to blame but themselves. And if Luaty Beirão dies in jail on their watch, they will have a much bigger problem than ‘preparatory acts’,” Marissa Moorman wrote in an article published on africasacountry.com.
Amnesty International said Beirão’s detention was “a shocking example of the lengths to which Angolan authorities will go to suppress dissent”. “The imprisoned musician is believed to be in critical condition in São Paulo hospital prison,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty’s regional director for southern Africa. “Amnesty International is calling for his immediate and unconditional release.”
A group of family and friends of the prisoners set up a video campaign and a petition, Liberdade Já (Freedom Now), that has mobilised an international line-up of authors, artists, scholars and activists in support of the cause.
Luaty Beirão is also known under his artist name Ikonoklasta. His full name is Henrique Luaty da Silva Beirão.
Sources and more information:
» Africasacountry.com – 12 October 2015:
President dos Santos and the MPLA: Scared of peace and quiet?
» Maka Angola- 11 October 2015:
Luaty: My Hero
» AFP – 8 October 2015:
Angolan dissident rapper’s hunger strike enters third week
» The campaign platform Liberdade Já:
» Facebook page:
Liberdade aos Presos Políticos em Angola
» Video 1: Liberdade Já | Freedom Now | Liberté immédiate
» Video 2: Liberdade Já | Freedom Now | Liberté immédiate
» Video 3: Liberdade Já | Freedom Now | Liberté immédiate
» Amnesty International Portugal – petition, in Portuguese:
Greve de fome em protesto por detenção arbitrária
» Freemuse – 16 July 2012:
Angolan rapper arrested for drug smuggling: ‘I was framed’
Luaty Beirão, a popular Angolan rapper known by the artist name Ikonoklasta, has been beaten up, arrested, his house broken into, his girlfriend kidnapped, and his family has been terrorised with anonymous death threats.