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Luanda,Oct.26,2020(Lusa)-Dozens of young people are on Monday gathered in front of Luanda Provincial Court, demanding the release of demonstrators arrested during a march on Saturday in the Angolan capital.

Some prison transport vans arrived at the court, it was not yet 11:00 (10:00 in Lisbon), and the detainees they were transporting were received with shouts of "Freedom, now!", as they left the vehicles.

Outside the court, vuvuzelas and criticism of the Angolan president, João Lourenço, and the Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA) were heard, while the young demonstrators were observed by the watchful eye of the police officers who formed a police cordon barring the entrance to the court.

Besides friends and relatives of the detainees, colleagues of journalists from Radio Essencial, who were arrested on Saturday and are expected to appear at the court today, are also present at the demonstration.

In a statement to the journalists, Edno Pimentel, editor of Radio Essencial, said that he had spoken with his colleagues arrested on Saturday who reported that they had been "assaulted".

The editor added that the three journalists and the driver who made up the radio team covering Saturday's demonstration were out of touch shortly after the arrest, although he acknowledged that they had not been released so far as a strategy to "disguise the aftermath of the attacks".

Edno Pimentel said that the police had given no justification as to why they had been arrested and why the radio team was still being held.

The head of Radio Essencial said that no lawyer had yet been appointed to defend the journalists, "because there is no formal process," but added that the arrests did not come as a "complete surprise," as "a lot has been happening in Angola.

A demonstration last Saturday in Luanda resulted in the arrest of 103 people, including leaders of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), according to the Secretary of State for the Interior, Salvador Rodrigues, who denied the existence of any deaths resulting from the event promoted by civil society activists, with support from the largest Angolan opposition party.

According to the Angolan leader, 90 men and 13 women are being detained. Six police officers were wounded following clashes between the police and demonstrators, according to Rodrigues.

"Unfortunately, there are leaders of political parties [...] arrested who were in the demonstration", the Angolan leader also specified, indicating that they are linked to UNITA.

The head of the interior ministry said that there was arson, that police property was burnt, underlining that "the force of order was there to enforce the decree".

On Friday the Angolan government issued new measures to combat and prevent Covid-19, in a decree on the State of Public Calamity, which amongst several restrictions, prohibited street gatherings of over five people.

According to the Angolan government, forces of order were received with violence, "stone-throwing, burning tyres on the road," and a police motorbike, a fire truck, an ambulance that was left with broken windows and a car from the traffic unit were burned.

Activist Dito Dali, one of the participants in Saturday's demonstration in Luanda, told Lusa that there were over 100 people arrested and one person had died during the protest, but this information was not officially confirmed.

Some journalists were assaulted and forced to erase the images relating to the coverage of the demonstration.

Three non-governmental organisations - UFOLO, Amigos de Angola and Mãos Livres - condemned the violence against the demonstrators and demanded the release of the journalists.



Agency : LUSA

Date : 2020-10-27 09:35:00


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