José Patrocínio, Líder Da OMUNGA
Munich/Germany, Saturday, 19 November 2011
Embassy of the Republic of Angola in Canada
Ottawa - Ontario, K1N 6P1
Email: email@example.com Website: http://www.embangola-can.re/ - Angola: Local authorities disrupt civil society event organised by NGO OMUNGA
Appeal to President José Eduardo dos Santos, Palacio do Povo, Luanda, Angola
Your Excellency, dear Ambassador,
On 9 November 2011, local authorities in Benguela suddenly withdrew their support and disrupted an arts and culture event organised by the NGO OMUNGA that was scheduled to start the following day.OMUNGA - http://www.africafiles.org/article.asp?ID=22529 - is a human rights group based in the province of Benguela that promotes street children rights, children and youth leadership, community and civil education. Along with other organisations and with the support of Lobito Municipal Administration and the Benguela Provincial Board of Culture, OMUNGA had scheduled to launch the 1st International Urban Culture and Arts Gathering OKUPAPALA, on 10 November 2011. OKUPAPALA - http://www.okupapala.org/ - is a social-cultural gathering intended to empower vulnerable and marginalised communities by promoting their freedom of expression and participation in society.
On 9 November 2011, Benguela's Cultural Provincial Director informed the organisers that areas previously approved to host OKUPAPALA were no longer available for this purpose. The gathering co-organised by the NGO OMUNGA also suddenly lost the right previously granted to use Lobito Municipal Administration facilities and a hall at Jose Samuel do 27 de Marco School.
The news came as a surprise since the event was going to open the following day, had been planned with the support of the authorities, and international and national guests were expected.
Furthermore, on 10 November, at 5 pm, an activity from OKUPAPALA started at the football field next to the abovementioned school. Reportedly, at 7.30 pm, two people started throwing stones at the participants and ten minutes later the 2nd Municipal Commander of police arrived at the scene and ordered that the event should immediately end due to security concerns.
On 11 and 12 November, the police intervened again and forcibly interrupted two OKUPAKALA events that were taking place in different parts of the city, namely Damba Maria and Catumla. The organisers then transferred the event supposed to take place in Catumbela to another location, but the police contacted them and ordered not to continue with the event.
It is also been reported that at least three sponsors decided to completely and unconditionally remove their support to the national and international participants of OKUPAPALA after being pressured by the local government. Furthermore, it is reported that invited guests have also received pressure to withdraw their participation.
OMUNGA has a history of harassment by the authorities. Its coordinator Jose Patrocinio has faced threats and intimidation. In March 2010, the authorities blocked a protest organised by OMUNGA against housing demolitions and evictions in Benguela. In April 2010, Jose Patrocinio was detained at the airport in Luanda. Obviously the disruption of OMUNGA activities is directly related to the organisation's work in the defence of human rights, particularly its peaceful intention to launch OKUPAPALA.
I urge the authorities in Angola:
##- to communicate to the OKUPAPALA's organisers the specific reasons behind the sudden withdraw of support; ##- to halt any actions aimed at further disrupting the activities of the NGO OMUNGA and more specifically the gathering OKUPAPALA; ##- to cease any acts of harassment against the NGO OMUNGA and particularly its coordinator Jose Patrocinio; ##- to guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Angola are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all undue restrictions. Thank you.
Yours sincerely and respectfully,
Wilhelm H. Ludwig Member of the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR)
http://www.ishr.org/ - www.igfm.de - www.menschenrechte.de -Member of the Society for Threatened Peoples - www.gfbv.de (German website)
c/o Streitbergstrasse 93a, D 81249 Munich/Germany
Phone: +49 (0)89 897 01 081; Fax: +49 (0)89 871 39 357; E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org