Angola Musician on Hunger Strike Shows Abuse, Amnesty Says

  • Musician Beirao is being fed through an intravenous tube
  • 14 activists charged for allegedly plotting to oust government

Amnesty International said it’s worried about the health of a popular Angolan musician on a hunger strike and called for his unconditional release along with 14 other activists charged last month for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government.

Luaty Beirao is being fed through an intravenous tube and was transfered to a private hospital in the capital, Luanda, on Oct. 15, Amnesty International said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday. Before that, he had survived on only water mixed with salt and sugar brought by his family for about a month.

Luaty Beirao in 2012
Luaty Beirao in 2012
Photographer: Stephane de Sakutin/AFP via Getty Images

Police arrested Beirao and the other activists during a meeting on June 20. Their continued detention highlights how far the government of Africa’s second-biggest oil producer is willing to go to silence dissent, the London-based rights group said.

Beirao’s “life may be at risk,” Deprose Muchena, Amnesty’s director for southern Africa, said in the statement. “His original detention was an affront to freedom of expression and now the authorities seem intent on compounding this shocking injustice by keeping him in detention.”

Arbitrary Detention

Human-rights groups have accused the government of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Africa’s second longest-serving ruler, of abuses including extra-judicial killings, arbitrarily detaining critics and curbing freedom of speech. The collapse in oil prices is straining the economy, the third biggest on the continent, after Nigeria and South Africa.

Angolan police spokesman Aristofanes dos Santos couldn’t be reached outside regular office hours when Bloomberg called for comment.

“How can we talk about political stability when we have political prisoners? When the government carries out aggressions, detentions and kills people just for thinking differently?” Isaias Samakuva, leader of the main opposition party, the Union for the Total Independence of Angola, told party members on Monday. The government “uses the judiciary system to silence and intimidate citizens through imprisonment, bringing charges and sentencing,” he said.

Lawyers representing the activists were informed on Monday that their trial will take place Nov. 16 to Nov. 20 at the Luanda Provincial Tribunal, Amnesty said.

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