An Angolan rapper named Luaty Beirao has joined 17 other activists who have gone on trial in Luanda, charged with preparing acts of rebellion and plotting against the President, Jose Eduardo dos Santos and state institutions.
An Angolan rapper named Luaty Beirão has joined 17 other activists who have gone on trial in Luanda, charged with preparing acts of rebellion and plotting against the President, Jose Eduardo dos Santos and state institutions.
Beirao was apprehended back in June with some members of his book club while discussing a book about nonviolent resistance. He reportedly went on a five-week hunger strike while in custody which ended on November 16.
The rapper, also known by his stage name Ikonoklasta, has been an outspoken critic of the government, calling for a fairer distribution of the country's oil wealth. Since the end of the conflict in 2002, Africa's second-largest oil producer has witnessed an economic boom, but critics of the elected government say the wealth has only benefited a small elite.
Human Rights Watch's Zenaida Machado urged Angolan judges to "show independence and not permit this trial to be used as an instrument to silence the government's critics".
The detained activists, who belong to a youth movement, had previously held demonstrations demanding the resignation of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has been in power for 36 years.
Their book club had planned to discuss the 1993 book by Gene Sharp called 'From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation' but were arrested that same day.
The June arrests were defended by Angola's deputy state prosecutor who accused them of planning an uprising among students and workers "with incalculable consequences".
If convicted, Beirao and his group could be sentenced to 12 years in jail.