On April 22, 2023, police prevented a protest that the Angolan Students Movement (MEA) had planned for that day in Angola’s capital Luanda. They arrested five 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. The protest was meant to be the second in a series of five demonstrations organized by MEA.
On April 17, in accordance with local laws, MEA notified the Luanda provincial government of their plans to demonstrate on April 22. Ahead of the protest, organizers reportedly received threats on social media.
When students arrived for the protest, police ordered them to disperse and reportedly beat students, injuring at least one person. When students refused to leave, police arrested five of them. It is unclear as of this report when the students were released and what, if any, charges were brought against the students.
This was the second time in a week that police prevented MEA from protesting; on April 15, police also prevented a MEA protest and arrested students (see report).
Scholars at Risk is concerned about police actions, including the reported use of force, 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.
*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)