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Angola Evicts the poor from millionaires' row

4/10/2013, 1:05 p.m.
Angola Evicts the poor from millionaires' row

Apr. 9 (GIN) - One of Africa's wealthiest nations, the home of Africa's first woman billionaire, turned its bulldozers on the homes of some 5,000 people in an early morning raid close to the capital, Luanda, in an action fiercely condemned by international rights organizations.

Rapid intervention police, private security and helicopters surrounded the squatter neighborhood of Maoimbe at about 5 a.m. without notice, reported Amnesty International in an Urgent Action report. Some of the residents accepted a government relocation offer but according a press interview, the new area has no services, water, electricity and a recent rain flooded their meager shacks.

Last year, 50,000 poor people were similarly evicted from the Chicala neighborhood overlooking the port city and rich people's homes.

Last month, on Mar. 30, police arrested several human rights defenders, protest organizers and demonstrators, shortly before the scheduled start of a demonstration in the capital Luanda, in solidarity with two human rights defenders who disappeared in 2012.

While the action against the Moimbe neighborhood took place in February, reports are just now filtering out of the Portuguese-speaking country through Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, and local Angolan groups. International law and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, signed by Angola, prohibits the government from evicting people by force, during bad weather, at night, without prior consent, and that no one be made homeless as a result of the evictions.

Angola has enriched itself through the extraction of valuable minerals. The south central African nation is the fifth-largest source of diamonds worldwide. Its oil wells produce 1.9m barrels a day; and could soon overtake Nigeria to become Africa's largest producer. Roads and railways destroyed during the civil war have been rebuilt.

A book: Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola, written by the Angolan journalist Rafael Marques, exposes the problem of theft of the country's natural resources.

The government's budget is about $40 billion, bigger than that of some European countries.

Videos of Angola's activist movement can be viewed online at http://centralangola7311.net/category/manifestacoes/manifestacao-2-abril/