ANGOLA: HUNGER STRIKING RAPPER IN CRITICAL CONDITION
Activist and musician Luaty Beirão admitted to hospital on 15 October
As the rapper enters his second month on hunger strike, Amnesty believes his life might be at risk
The detention of prisoner of conscience, Luaty Beirão, is a shocking example of the lengths to which Angolan authorities will go to suppress dissent, Amnesty International said today, as he marked one month on hunger strike protesting against his detention.
The imprisoned activist is believed to be in critical condition in Clinica Girassol private hospital in Luanda, where he was transferred on 15 October. Amnesty is calling today for his immediate and unconditional release.
Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa, Deprose Muchena, said:
“As Luaty enters his second month on hunger strike, we believe his health is now in a critical condition and his life may be at risk.
“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.
“All charges against Luaty, and his co-accused, must be dropped and he must be immediately and unconditionally released.”
Luaty Beirão was arrested along with 14 other local activists in connection with a meeting to discuss governance issues in the country’s capital Luanda on 20 June. The group should never have been imprisoned in the first place insists Amnesty, as they were peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
For a month, Luaty has only been drinking water mixed with salt and sugar provided by his family, and he has had difficulties ingesting liquids and walking. He was transferred to the hospital prison of São Paulo on 9 October where, according to his family, he agreed to take intravenous saline for the first time on 11 October.
Luaty, along with 14 other activists, was formally charged on 16 September with preparing a “rebellion and a coup attempt” against the president. They were only officially informed of the charges, which are deemed crimes against the security of the state, after the 90 days of pre-trial detention allowed by law had expired.
On 19 October, the activists’ lawyers were notified that their trial would take place between 16 and 20 November at the Luanda Provincial Tribunal.
Amnesty International is campaigning on behalf of the group and a petition calling for their immediate and unconditional release has already collected more than 31 thousand signatures.
Amnesty International has documented how freedom of expression and peaceful assembly have been routinely and unlawfully restricted in Angola. (https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/AFR12/004/2014/en/).
Some of those who have challenged the government of President José Eduardo dos Santos have been subjected to extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture.
Despite freedom of expression and peaceful assembly being clearly enshrined in the country’s constitution and in several international treaties that Angola has signed and ratified, violations of these rights continue to occur.