The situation of detained Angolan pro-democracy activist and youth human rights defender Henrique Luaty da Silva Beirão has deteriorated and is now life threatening.
Mr. Beirão has been on hunger strike for over three weeks to protest his detention and that of 14 activists without trial or any formal charges beyond the 90 days stipulated under Angolan law. Mr. Beirão’s health has deteriorated significantly, rendering him completely weak and unable to walk or talk. He refuses to take any liquids and there are clear signs of some internal bleeding. Mr. Beirão’s current health condition requires immediate intervention from the Angolan government as there are growing fears for his life. If urgent action is not taken to release him and accord him immediate access to treatment, he may not be able to live for much longer. We are sad to observe that even under such life threatening circumstances the authorities in Angola have so far kept him in solitary confinement and refuse to allow others to visit him.
On 20 June 2015 Mr. Beirão and 14 youth activists were arrested at a private residence, where they had a meeting to discuss issues of democracy by reflecting on the book, From Dictatorship to Democracy: a conceptual framework for Liberation by Gene Sharp. The other 14 are; Manuel Nito Alves, Nuno Alvaro Dala, Nelson Mendes Dos Santos, Alfonso Jojo Matias (Mbanza Hamza), Sedrick de Carvalho, Fernando António Tómas (Nicola Radical), Hitler Chiconda (Samussuku), Italiano Arante Kivuvu, Benedito Dali (Dito Dali), Albano Bingobingo (Albano Liberdade), José Gomes Hata (a.k.a. Cheik Hata) and Inocénio De Brito (Drux) as well as Domingos da Cruz, journalist, and Osvaldo Correia Caholo, a reserve military officer.
Following their arrest they were each taken to their homes in handcuffs by security officers. Their homes were ransacked and electronic material, computers, photographs, diaries, magazines, documents, credit cards were seized. Other items belonging to family members were also confiscated. The operation took place without any arrest warrant and the security forces and the police were heavily armed and in several instances they broke doors to gain access. While in prison, Mr. Beirão’s was placed in solitary confinement and prevented from going outside and from receiving visitors. After he complained about these restrictions placed on him even the few family visits he was allowed to have were discontinued.
Since 2011, Mr. Beirão’s has coordinated a youth movement which advocates for and promotes democracy and human rights. The movement calls for political reforms and an improvement in social and economic justice issues in Angola. The group uses online tools to monitor and report on the demonstrations in Angola and reach out to victims of police brutality and those arbitrarily detained.
We are urging all key stakeholders to call on President José Eduardo dos Santos to:
- Immediately release Mr. Beirão and the other activists and if any charges are levelled against them, follow due process as provided in the laws of the land.
- Ensure that Mr. Beirão is examined and treated by medical personnel and given all the attention he needs at this time.
- Treat all the detained activists in a humane manner and stop violating the rights of civil society activists.