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» 09.02.2010 - Angola elects speaker
» 03.02.2010 - Angola’s new cabinet is sworn-in
» 14.01.2010 - Angola to endorse new constitution
» 11.03.2009 - UNITA accuses president of delaying polls for selfish benefit
» 23.02.2009 - Reform electoral commission – HRW
» 02.10.2008 - Angola unveils new cabinet
» 17.09.2008 - MPLA wins Angola's elections
» 19.12.2007 - Angola leader hints polls

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Politics | Human rights | Media

Protest concerns spark Angola arrest wave

Poster calling for anti-government protests in Angola on 7 March 2011

© Anonymous/afrol News
afrol News, 9 March
- Responding to a possible wave of pro-democracy protests, the government of Angola not only organised a large pro-regime march, but also is arresting journalists and harassing media.

On Saturday, some 500,000 Angolans demonstrated their support for government in rallies al over the country, according to state radio. Independent sources put the number at around 20,000 - but hard to determine, as Saturday also was one of the main days during the Angolan carnival, which sees hundreds of thousands celebrating in the streets.

On Monday, the situation was different. A few hundred pro-democracy demonstrators defied heavy police presence and called for an end to the 31-year rule of President José Eduardo dos Santos at a long-planned manifestation in central Luanda.

Only on Monday, during the peaceful anti-government demonstration, at least 20 persons were arrested, including several journalists wanting to cover the protests at Luanda's Independence Square. Protests against government, in practical terms, never have been allowed in Angola.

Now, Angolan media players report that government and police harassment against journalists has been intensified strongly during the last two weeks, in preparation for the much anticipated Angolan protests.

The Paris-based media watchdog Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has gathered information recent trends in Angola, and say it is "shocked by the growing problems that Angola's journalists are experiencing and the mistrust and hostility that the authorities are showing towards some media."

Only during the last two weeks, one reporter has been sentenced to a year in prison and several media and journalists have been threatened, roughed up or censored, the group foun

Angolan anti-government protesters

© Anonymous/afrol News

According to the media watchdog group, "this tendency has been increasing of late as the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) prepares its upcoming congress and the government is clearly concerned about the possibility that the protests rocking the Arab world could spread to Angola."

Among the many press freedom violations registered by RSF in Angola, the arrest of four journalists employed by the weekly 'Jornal Novo' stand out. The four were arrested while covering Luanda's Independence Square protests and were held for several hours by the police. "All were treated roughly" and one of the journalists was forced to show all the messages in her mobile phone, according to RSF.

"It is a disgrace for Angola that a journalist has been given a jail sentence for an alleged case of defamation that has not been proved," RSF said in a statement today. "And we are disturbed that the authorities are controlling freedom of expression so closely and sometimes try to gag media by harassing journalists," the group added.

Meanwhile, most Angolan media have been intimidated to follow the ruling MPLA's propaganda and write about large pro-MPLA manifestations during the ongoing carnival.

Most observers expect the small Angolan protest movement to have died as fast as it was born. Massive state propaganda, widespread fear and massive use of force to stop possible protests seem to rule out further North Africa-style protests in Angola. But it does not stop the widening discontent with the MPLA government.

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