Luanda Book Club sent to prison for "criminal conspiracy"
April 1, Luanda: PEN International is concerned at news that 17 Angolan activists, known as the Luanda Book Club, were sentenced to between 2-8 years in prison and fined 50,000 kwanza (around 300 USD) on Monday, 28 March 2016, for 'preparatory acts of rebellion' and 'criminal conspiracy'. An earlier charge of 'attempting against the president's life' was dropped by the prosecution on 21 March 2016.
The activists had gathered at a book store in the capital Luanda, to read Domingos da Cruz's unpublished manuscript Tools to Destroy a Dictatorship and Avoiding a New Dictatorship – Political Philosophy for the Liberation of Angola, an adaptation of US academic Gene Sharp's book From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation. Sharp's book is described as a blueprint for non-violent resistance to repressive regimes, the meeting to discuss the book was considered by the authorities to be a preliminary act to a coup.
The 17 activists include writer, journalist and university lecturer Domingos da Cruz, author of the manuscript they were reading at the book club; journalist and law student Sedrick de Caravlho, the book's designer; university lecturer Nuno Alvaro Dala, one of the lecturers of the seminars/discussions. Also arrested were rappers Luaty Beirão, Hitler Jessy Chiconde (also a university student) and teacher José Hata. Both the prosecution and defence lawyers have said they will appeal the verdict and sentences.
PEN International calls on the Angolan authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the writers and activists and quash their convictions. Angolans have the right to express themselves politically and protest peacefully via book club discussions or other means and restrictions on this is a violation of their rights to freedom of expression and assembly.
The Oslo Times