Young Angolans protesting in the capital Luanda – Euro News YouTube (screen capture)
Demonstrations by young Angolans in several cities across the country on November 11, this year’s 45th anniversary of Angola’s independence, were marred by incidents of police violence.
As in the protests of October 24, sparked by the postponement of local elections, the November demonstrations were called by civil society and were supported by the opposition parties União pela Independência Total de Angola (Union for the Total Independence of Angola, known by its Portuguese acronym UNITA) and Bloco de Democrático (Democratic Bloc).
As well as holding local elections, the demonstrators demanded the 500,000 jobs promised by President João Lourenço during his election campaign in 2017. There were also calls for the dismissal of Edeltrudes Costa, the head of the president’s cabinet embroiled in a corruption scandal.
The November protests took place in the provinces of Luanda, Benguela, Huambo, Kwanza Norte, Kwanza Sul, Moxico, Cabinda, Uíge, and Huila, as well as among the diaspora such as in Brazil, the United Kingdom and Portugal.
In Angola, the demonstrations were heavily repressed. There have been reports of arrests and injuries. In the capital Luanda, at least one demonstrator died. Inocêncio Matos, 26, was wounded in the head with a heavy object, according to Augusto Manuel, a doctor at the Américo Boavida Hospital where the young man was treated, speaking to Deutsche Welle Africa.
Initially, the young man was thought to have been shot with a firearm. Manuel rejected the possibility of shooting. A video widely shared on social media shows Matos wounded and unconscious in a public street. The provincial commander of the National Police, Eduardo Cerqueira, told media that the protestor “fell when he ran away from police actions aimed at dispersing people”.
Angolans protesting in the capital Luanda. Euro News report, YouTube (screen capture).
The protests had been banned by the authorities on the grounds of the state of emergency, decreed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which prohibits gatherings of more than five people in public spaces. The organizers rejected the ban, arguing that the restrictive measures could not infringe on the fundamental right of assembly.
In Luanda, there was a police presence in several areas of the city, conducting searches of citizens on foot and preventing vehicles from circulating. Demonstrators were also dispersed during a morning protest in a car park of the Santa Ana Cemetery, as shown in the video below:
Many voiced their disapproval of the repression. For example, journalist Sousa Jamba, who is in southern Angola, wrote on Facebook::
As imagens que circulam pelo o mundo, para marcar o onze de Novembro, dia da indecência de Angola, são dos confrontos entre a polícia e os jovens manifestantes nas ruas de Luanda. O problema com isto é que inibe o investidor sério.
O problema de Angola é que tem-se a grande ilusão de que o mesmo pessoal, com mesma cultura organizacional e métodos de trabalho, poderá um dia ser capaz de resolver os mesmos problemas que eles pensam não existir!.
The images that are circulating around the world, to mark November 11, the day of independence in Angola, are of the clashes between police and young demonstrators in the streets of Luanda. The problem with this is that it deters serious investors.
The problem in Angola is that one has the big illusion that the same people, with the same organisational culture and working methods, will one day be able to solve the very problems they think do not exist!
Angolans protesting in the capital Luanda. Euro News Report YouTube (screen capture)
Similarly, the journalist Víctor Hugo Mendes, who lives in Portugal, made a live broadcast on his Facebook page addressed to the president, João Lourenço, urging him to initiate a dialogue, open to all, on the concerns expressed by these young people.
UNITA member of parliament Paulo Lukamba also turned to Facebook to call attention to the urgency of dialogue:
É muito importante e urgente encontrar-se um mecanismo com vista ao DIÁLOGO com os jovens que vão para a rua como forma de reivindicação dos seus direitos consagrados na Constituição da República de Angola.
Para estes jovens, Angola é um País Independente, em paz e democracia. Um País com um potencial económico extraordinário. Eles querem apenas usufruir de tudo isso. Eles na sua maioria nasceram no princípio da década de 90. Há por isso muitos antecedentes políticos que não são do seu interesse.
Eles ganharam consciência cidadã já na era da proclamação de Angola como um Estado democrático e de Direito. Não há como parar a irreverência que é uma característica intrinsecamente ligada àquela faixa etária.
Eles querem ver as coisas acontecerem, estão cheios de energia para além das suas grandesexpectativas em matéria de projectos pessoais.
It is very important and urgent to find a mechanism aimed at DIALOGUE with the young people who are taking to the streets as a way to demand their rights enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Angola.
For these young people, Angola is an independent country, in peace and democracy. A country with extraordinary economic potential. They simply want to avail themselves of all this. Most of them were born in the early 1990s. There are therefore many political histories that are not of their interest.
They developed their understanding of [what it is to be] a citizen in the era of Angola being proclaimed a democratic state under the rule of law. There is no stopping the characteristic irreverence intrinsically linked to that age group.
They want to see things happen, they are full of energy beyond their great expectations for personal projects
The activist Hitler Samussuku said the protests are a sign of the end of the ruling party’s reign::
O MPLA E O FIM DA FESTA
A vaga de manifestações que acontece em Angola, surge na sequência do discurso à nação na qual o Presidente da República apresentou uma situação política, económica e social que não conjuga com a realidade vivida pelos angolanos, a razão de ser pelo fim do elevado custo de vida e pelo facto das autarquias serem adiadas sine die e de forma arrogante o que pareceu não haver compromisso para melhorar o desenvolvimento comunitário.
O povo angolano está a provar ao MPLA desde o dia 24 de Outubro que estamos numa nova era e que isto implica respeito pela voz do povo.
O MPLA de forma arrogante faz finca-pé as reivindicações do povo, acusando de serem arruaças e que propagação a transmissão do Covid 19, mas um povo sofredor como nós não está preocupado com o vírus porque com ou sem corona, morremos de febre amarela, morremos com malária e até morremos de fome.
THE MPLA AND THE END OF THE PARTYThe wave of protests taking place in Angola comes after an address to the nation in which the president of the republic described a political, economic and social situation that did not match the reality experienced by Angolans, the reason for [the protests being] to end the high cost of living and the fact that the local elections were postponed indefinitely and in an arrogant way, which appeared to have no commitment to improving community development.
The Angolan people have been proving to the MPLA since October 24 that we are in a new era and that this implies respect for the voice of the people.
The MPLA is arrogantly defying the people’s demands, accusing them of being rioters and spreading the transmission of COVID-19, but a suffering people like us is not worried about the virus because with or without corona, we die of yellow fever, we die of malaria and even die of hunger.
On Twitter, there were messages denouncing the police, as well as messages of solidarity with demonstrators:
Com luto ficou marcado o dia que se deveria celebrar a independência de #AngolaEstou muito preocupada porque vários dos nossos companheiros não entraram em contacto ainda. Esperamos que estejam todos bem.De #Moçambique vai o nosso calor. A luta continua #manif11 #manif11nov pic.twitter.com/7N2nQqCUdy
— Cídia Chissungo (@Cidiachissungo) November 11, 2020
Mourning has marked the day that should celebrate the independence of #AngolaI am very worried because several of our friends have not made contact yet. We hope they are all well.Our warmth is coming from #Mozambique. The fight goes on
Por um lado #policias e do outro lado #ambulanciasO governo angolano sabe bem o que faz. Contigente militar para reprimir manifestantes. Isto não vai acabar bem #manif11nov #manif11 pic.twitter.com/Q9kK9Dh2kU
— Cídia Chissungo (@Cidiachissungo) November 11, 2020
On one side # police and on the other side #ambulancesThe Angolan government knows full well what it is doing. A military force to repress demonstrators. This will not end well
Assassinos SIM. A polícia angolana matou um jovem desarmado com um tiro na cabeça. Assassinos. Essas imagens serão difícil esquecer #manif11nov #manif11 pic.twitter.com/ML6d14pi9k
— Cídia Chissungo (@Cidiachissungo) November 11, 2020
Murderers YES. The Angolan police killed an unarmed young man with a shot to the head. Murderers. These images will be difficult to forget
As a response to the death of Inocêncio, students at the Agostinho Neto University decided to dress in black in his honour, which was forbidden by the university’s authorities, according to a page created in his name:
A reitoria da Universidade Agostinho Neto fez sair um comunicado no qual PROÍBE o uso de ROUPAS PRETAS nas unidades orgânicas excepto a de Ciência onde Inocêncio de Matos era estudante.
PROIBIU, igualmente, o minuto de silêncio que estava previsto em memória do assassinado. É óbvio que eu não vou cumprir com uma coisa tão ridícula como esta.
Sim, irei de PRETO.
The rectorship of Agostinho Neto University issued a statement in which it PROHIBITS the wearing of BLACK CLOTHES in organic facilities except the Science facility where Inocêncio de Matos was a student.It also forbade the minute of silence that was planned in memory of the murdered student. It is obvious that I will not comply with something as ridiculous as this.Yes, I will go in BLACK.
The tribute at the university was preceded by a religious vigil. A group of rappers released a song entitled “Homage to Inocêncio.”
The page of one of the largest civil society collectives, Central Angola 7311, changed its profile photo in tribute to the young man.
Um ano depois, a Central Angola 7311 volta a trocar a foto de perfil, substituindo o nosso herói Carbono Casimiro pelo mártir de 11 de Novembro Inocêncio Matos.
Morto pela Policia Nacional quando protestava pela Cidadania, pelo fim do elevado custo de vidas e por autarquias em 2021 sem rodeios, morreu ajoelhado, gritando “violência não”.
One year later, Central Angola 7311 changes its profile photo again, replacing our hero Carbono Casimiro with the martyr of 11 November Inocêncio Matos.
Killed by the National Police when protesting for Citizenship, for the end of the high cost of living and for local elections in 2021 without reason, he died on his knees, shouting “no violence”.