Court charges 17 campaigners under charges including acts of rebellion, planning mass action of civil disobedience and producing fake passports
Some 17 Angolan activists are on trial accused of rebellion against the state for organising a book reading. Photograph: Paulo Juliao/EPA
Seventeen young Angolan activists were charged in court with rebellion against the state yesterday, for organising a reading of a US academic’s book.
The young campaigners were detained in June after organising a reading of Gene Sharp’s 1993 book From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation. The book’s blurb describes it as “a blueprint for nonviolent resistance to repressive regimes”.
Charges against them read out in court included acts of rebellion, planning mass action of civil disobedience in the capital Luanda and producing fake passports.
Their defence lawyer told the hearing his clients were not guilty of any crime because debate and freedom of speech were protected under the constitution.
Human rights groups have accused Angola’s president Jose Eduardo dos Santos and his government of using the legal system to crack down on critics after several activists were jailed or detained this year on charges of crimes against the state.
Dos Santos has led Angola for 36 years, maintained peace since the end of civil war in 2002 and overseen rapid economic growth. But, his opponents say, he uses a well-funded military and patronage from oil sales to keep a grip on power.
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