When there is no freedom, there is dictatorship
The ‘trial’ of 17 activists in Angola has come to an end. The result was expected - guilty and given harsh prison sentences (from 2 to 8 years’ imprisonment). What crime have these youngster committed? According to the Angolan court, ‘conspiracy’ and formation of a ‘criminal ring’.
The world knows that these youngsters met up, read books together, and, of course, talked to each other. For the Angolan regime, they were ‘conspiring’.
A regime where there is no freedom of expression, freedom of assembly nor right to protest, a regime where having a different opinion throws you in jail has but one name - Dictatorship!
And Angola is a dictatorship, with a president - José Eduardo dos Santos, - who lingers in power and has an apparatus between the party and the state surrounding him. A president who mixes family business with state interests, who disregards means with which to reach certain ends, who condones the repression of a people who live in misery, whilst the rich and powerful are surrounded by barbed wires and defended by rifles in the illusion that this ensures their safety.
Can we ignore all this? Pretend it does not exist? In the name of diplomatic relations, of commercial interests? Or even in the name of non-interference in internal matters? Since when is a dictatorship’s oppression an internal matter? Can and should we not take a stand about violations of human rights? Is it ‘interfering in internal matters’ to say that the trial of these now sentenced youngsters was a farce? We can talk about what goes on in certain countries, but not others, due to commercial or partisan relations…It is pure hypocrisy. Even worse, it is to sacrifice the values of democracy, human rights and even the lives of many - due to ‘especial’ interests in not ruffling feathers in the relations with the President and the party that rule Angola.
It was exactly this hypocrite ‘blind eye’ that allowed Equatorial Guinea into the CPLP, this and the oil deal. What’s the good in having an international, multilateral organisation grounded on lusophony, based on the primary of human interests, that capitulates before economic interests and ignores dictatorships?
The Angolan regime condemned 17 young activists for thinking differently, for daring to read books and having meetings, for daring to say that they want something other than what is established by others. It imposed its order, but even dictators know their end is coming.
We are a democracy, which side do we stand on?
Originally published in mediotejo.net on march 30 2016, translated by João Areal for esquerda.net/English.