Tuesday, June 30th was a very good day. Two activists in Swaziland, Africa’s last absolute monarchy, walked free after serving over a year of a two-year prison sentence. Bhekithemba (Bheki) Makhubu, editor of The Nation magazine, and Thulani Maseko, an human rights attorney, were released after an appeals court determined there was no case against the men.
There is a short distance between freedom and conviction in Angola. For journalist and human rights activist Rafael Marques de Morais, it was one week.
Rafael went to court last Thursday and thought he reached a settlement agreement on charges of criminal defamation. Today, he received a 6 month prison sentence suspended for two years. Amnesty had called for all charges to be dropped.
Diamonds. Murder. Torture. Broken promises. Important officials. International players. All the elements of a gripping narrative told in a Hollywood blockbuster. Except this isn’t fiction, and the person on trial was the journalist who made sure the world knew the story.
Community radio stations provide a vital outlet to share information most relevant to where people live and what affects them most. But despite a 2001 law that established a licensing regime, the government has only authorized new licenses for groups aligned with the ruling ZANU-PF party. There is a critical need for marginalized communities to have access to information that promotes education, shared experiences, history, music and oral traditions. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Contributed by Amnesty USA’s Angola Country Specialist Paula Paixao.
Amnesty is urging the Angolan government drop all charges against journalist Rafael Marques de Morais. Rafael’s work is seen as a potential threat to the security of the regime. Read below to see how you raise your voice with us by joining our Twitter storm. But first, here’s why you should: SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
On the morning of March 9, in front of a Harare neighborhood barbershop, five men in civilian clothes abducted journalist and activist Itai Dzamara. He was handcuffed, bundled into a white truck with no visible license plates, and has not been seen since. He has disappeared, leaving a wife and two young children behind to grieve and demand he be brought home. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
How many attempts by your government to keep you quiet through harassment, arrests and trials would it take before you stopped trying to hold them to account? For Rafael Marques, nothing the Angolan government has thrown at him will keep him silent. Rafael goes on trial this month for writing a book accusing army generals in Angola of alleged human rights abuses. We are calling on the US State Department to raise our free speech concerns for Rafael and all citizens to the Angola government. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
There is a rural area in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa where the maternal mortality rate more than doubled from 2011 to 2012. Why are women so at risk for dying during childbirth in this province? The reasons are complex and inter-related but many factors can be addressed by the provincial Minister of Health. And we are demanding that he does. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Riot police in military gear in the streets, dispersing peaceful protestors gathered to address grievances with their government. Protestors threatened with weapons. Civil rights violated. Despite similarities to recent events in the US, I’m not talking about Ferguson. This is Zimbabwe.
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In early August, Obama hosts the first ever U.S.-Africa summit in Washington, D.C. Nearly every sitting head of state from the continent is invited to discuss primarily bilateral business opportunities through trade and investment. However, from the beginning, the White House stated the intent to also focus on human rights and good governance. It is time for Obama to honor that commitment. Help us urge the inclusion of civil society in all summit sessions.