On April 15, 2023, police prevented a planned protest march by the Angolan Students Movement (MEA) and arrested approximately five of the protesters.
MEA objected to an ongoing strike by the National Union of Higher Education Teachers (SINPES), which had resulted in the suspension of classes. They planned to call on the Angolan government to negotiate with SINPES.
On April 14th, in accordance with local laws, members of MEA delivered a letter notifying the Luanda provincial government of the march.
However, when students arrived at the meeting point for their march, they were confronted by police, who told them they had not received the request for permission to protest, and the students would be arrested if they proceeded. MEA attempted to demonstrate, and police arrested approximately five of them, including Francisco Teixeira, MEA’s president. The students were brought to a local police station and released shortly after. It is unclear as of this report what if any charges were brought against the students.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about police actions preventing the nonviolent exercise, by students, of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, and the detention of students engaged in that activity. Such conduct is expressly protected by international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Angola is a party. State authorities have an obligation to refrain from restricting or retaliating against the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and assembly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, detentions in response to peaceful student expression undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.