On 28 March 2016, the prominent Angolan rapper Luaty Beirão was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison for planning a rebellion against President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, reported several news sources.
34-year-old Luaty Beirão was sentenced to 5.5 years for “rebellion against the president of the republic, criminal association and falsifying documents” by the Luanda Provincial Tribunal in the capital. 16 other activists were given prison terms of between two and eight years.
15 of the activists were arrested in June 2015 after discussing a book about non-violent resistance at their book club.
Calls for the activists release
“Reading a book is not a crime”, said Freemuse Executive Director Ole Reitov. “Luaty Beirao and his fellow activists should never have been arrested in the first place. They must be released immediately and unconditionally and their convictions must be repealed.”
On 23 October 2015, the United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, issued a statement urging the Angolan government to release the activists. Forst’s statement was supported by the UN special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai; the UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom or opinion and expression, David Kaye; the UN special rapporteur on torture, Juan Méndez; and the chair of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Seong-Phil Hong. The human rights groups called on the government of Angola to cooperate fully with the recommendations of the UN special rapporteurs.
Lawyer Michel Francisco who represented 10 of the accused said he would appeal the convictions. The news agency AFP reported that a member of the public in the court denounced the outcome as ‘a parody of justice’ and was arrested on the spot.
About Luaty Beirão
Angolan-Portuguese hip-hop musician and human rights activist Henrique Luaty da Silva Beirão was born in 1981 in Luanda, Angola. He is also known under the stage names Ikonoklasta, Brigadeiro Mata Frakuxz and Nkwa Kobanza. His Facebook page has over 90,000 likes.
Photo above from November 2015 by Ampe Rogério/RA
» PEN International – 31 March 2016:
Angola: Pernicious pursuit of the Luanda Book Club
» New Vision – 29 March 2016:
Angola jails 17 youths, including rapper, for ‘rebellion’
» Newsweek – 29 March 2016:
Angolan Rapper Ikonoklasta Jailed for Plotting Presidential Rebellion
» Amnesty – 29 March 2016:
Angola: Conviction of 17 peaceful activists an affront to justice
» AllAfrica – 5 November 2015:
Angola: Rights Groups Demand the Release of 15 Youth Activists
» Artsfreedom – 16 October 2016:
Angola: Freemuse calls for immediate release of detained rapper
Ikonoklasta: ‘Revolução’ – posted on youtube.com in June 2015
— PEN International (@pen_int) March 31, 2016