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Luaty Beirao, Angolan dissident rapper sentenced to 5 years in jail

A court of Luanda, Angola, has sentenced rapper Luaty Beirao, aka Ikonoklasta, to prison. He was found guilty of plotting rebellion against President Dos Santos.

5-and-a-half years in jail: this is the price Angolan musician and rapper Luaty Beirao paid for his political commitment against President Jose Eduardo dos Santos. The verdict issued by a court of Luanda found Beirao and 16 other activists guilty of wanting to overthrow the government and institutions.

The sequence of events started on 20 June 2015, when the group was arrested after being caught red-handed while reading, as ironically underlined by defence lawyers. In fact, the 17 were discussing about non-violent resistance during a meeting dedicated to Gene Sharp’s book From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation. Journalist and academic Domingo da Cruz, considered the group’s leader, was inflicted the harshest penalty: 8 years and a half in jail for conspiracy and attempted military coup.

 

Beirao, also known as Ikonoklasta, protested against his detention by starting a hunger strike, while his lawyers announced they will appeal. Human rights associations said the verdict was “a ridiculous scandal” and that the defendants were subjected to a “kangaroo court trial”, which sheds light on the alarming conditions of Angolan justice.

 

 

Being the third economy of the continent, Angola registered an economic boost after the end of the civil war in 2002, thanks to huge oil resources. However, the country is characterised by an increasing discontent due to bribery scandals, repression, and impunity. Dos Santo’s family is considered to be one of the country’s wealthiest, and President’s daughter Isabelle was defined as Africa’s richest woman by Forbes. In power since 1979, President Dos Santos – Africa’s second-longest serving leader after Teodoro Obiang Nguema in Equatorial Guinea – has recently announced his will to quit the political arena at the end of his term, in 2018.

 

 

A debate has risen over the past few days about whether it is a fact or just a propaganda action. The opposition is sceptical: “It happened in 2001 when he announced he would not run for elections the following year. He just wants to test his popularity inside and outside the party,” said Raúl Danda, Vice President of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).

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