An Angolan court on Monday sentenced 17 youth activists for rebellion after they organized a book reading in 2015.
Agência Angola Press reported the sentences ranged from four to eight years.
#BREAKING Angola court jails 17 youth activists, including rapper, for 'rebellion'
— AFP news agency (@AFP) March 28, 2016
The group was charged with acts of rebellion, planning mass acts of civil disobedience and producing fake passports.
The activists were arrested in June 2015 after organizing a reading of a 1993 book by U.S. academic Gene Sharp “From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation”.
In the preface of the book, Sharp wrote that he has “drawn on my studies over many years of dictatorships, resistance movements, revolutions, political thought, governmental systems, and especially realistic nonviolent struggle.”
— Guardian World (@guardianworld) March 28, 2016
One of the activists is Luaty Beirao, an Angolan rapper who goes by the stage name Ikonoklasta. Beirao has been an outspoken critic of the government and Angola’s distribution of wealth.
BBC reported that Beirao began a five-week hunger strike in September of last year to protest the arrests.
Angola is an oil-rich country in southern Africa that has had the same president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, since 1979. He stated earlier this month that he would retire in 2018, but critics are sceptical if this will actually happen.
Most Angolans "won't notice" prison sentences. They are too busy trying to find / afford food, and medical supplies: https://t.co/WNGuTsxxs8
— giantpandinha (@giantpandinha) March 28, 2016
In December 2015, Amnesty International said the activists had been put into a “kangaroo court” where they were “denied water, toilet breaks and had to stand for long periods.”
— SouthernAfricaAIUSA (@SoAfricaAIUSA) March 28, 2016
Image: Paulo Juliao/EPA