Reporters Without Borders has written to Angolan interior minister Sebastiao José Antonio Martins voicing concern about the recent wave of threats and violence against journalists. One has been murdered, two have been physically attacked and injured, and a fourth has been the target of intimidation.
“We are concerned by the fact that the victims all work for critical or opposition news media,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said in the letter, sent on 28 October. “The level of violence is very disturbing. The physical safety of journalists is in danger. We are alarmed by the gravity of these attacks.”
The letter continued: “Must all of Angola’s journalists feel threatened? Must they all live in fear of an imminent and potentially fatal attack? Is fear in the process of becoming a permanent part of their existence?
“These crimes must not go unpunished. Those responsible must be arrested and tried. We hope that the security forces under your authority will carry out thorough investigations in an independent manner. The credibility and reputation of Angola’s authorities are at stake (...) We urge you to give the police all the resources they need in order to arrest the perpetrators without delay.”
The latest incident was the ambushing of journalist Rafael Marques on a road leading to Luanda on the night of 23 October. An armed man in a traffic policeman’s uniform stopped him and said: “It is because of your work. I was waiting for you. I respect Luanda’s orders.” He finally released Marques after receiving telephone instructions.
Radio Despertar journalist Antonio Manuel Da Silva, better known by his radio name of Jojo, was stabbed on the night of 22 October by a man who, according to witnesses, mentioned Silva’s very popular programme, which recently made fun of President Eduardo Dos Santos.
A month before that, TV Zimbo reporter Norberto Abias Sateko was shot and wounded on 22 September, while another Radio Despertar journalist, Alberto Graves Chakussanga, was fatally shot in the back in his home on 5 September. More information
Angola is ranked 104th out of 178 countries in the 2010 Reporters Without Borders world press freedom index, but the events that have taken place since early September are likely to result in a lower ranking next year. The government must react and demonstrate a commitment to the media freedom by making every possible effort to arrest those responsible for these attacks.