Angolan police briefly detained dozens of protesters in the capital Luanda after they tried to march in support of a group of activists jailed for planning a rebellion, witnesses said late on Saturday.
The witnesses said armed police rounded up the protesters as they gathered at Independence Garden for the abortive march in support of 17 activists sentenced last month for plotting against President Jose Eduardo dos Santos’s government.
Police kicked three people gathering for Saturday’s demonstration, leaving one bleeding and unconscious, before a police vehicle took them away, a Reuters witness said.
“They assaulted us for no reason at all while in custody,” Adolfo Campos, an activist who said he was briefly detained along with 24 other protesters, told Reuters.
Police were not immediately available to comment.
Dos Santos, who has been in power since 1979 and is Africa’s second longest-ruling leader, is accused by critics of mismanaging Angola’s oil wealth and making an elite vastly rich in a country ranked amongst the world’s most corrupt. He has said he intends to step down in 2018.
The jailed activists were arrested in June after organizing a reading of U.S. academic Gene Sharp’s 1993 book “From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation”. The book’s cover describes it as “a blueprint for non-violent resistance to repressive regimes”.
The activists were accused of acts of rebellion, planning mass civil disobedience in the capital and producing fake passports, among other charges. Their sentences ranged from two years and three months to eight years and six months.