While the music industry in the United States wonders what’s up with the beef between Maybach Music Group artists Wale and Meek Mill, a different international feud has reached crisis level.
Rappers, musicians and students in Angola have been protesting the government of President José Eduardo dos Santos. Even though freedom of expression and peaceful assembly is allowed in the country’s constitution, President dos Santos’ government is accused of killing, kidnapping and torturing its dissidents.
A popular rapper, Luaty “Ikonoklasta” Beirão, was arrested and charged along with 14 other activists in June, for encouraging students to “prepare” a rebellion and “ coup d’etat” against the President.
In September, Ikonoklasta went on a hunger strike to protest his illegal detainment. He is now in critical condition at Clinica Girassol hospital in Luanda.
Over 31,000 people have signed a petition to free the activists, who have allegedly been tortured and detained for more than 90 days without a fair trial.
“The continued detention of prisoner of conscience, Luaty Beirão (“Luaty”), is a shocking example of the lengths to which Angolan authorities will go to suppress dissent, Amnesty International said today as he marked one month on hunger strike protesting against his detention,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.
“The imprisoned activist and musician is believed to be in critical condition in Clinica Girassol private hospital in Luanda, where he was transferred to on 15 October 2015. Amnesty International is calling today for his immediate and unconditional release. As Luaty enters his second month on hunger strike, we believe his health is now in critical condition and his life may be at risk. His original detention was an affront to freedom of expression and now the authorities seem intent on compounding this shocking injustice by keeping him in detention,” Muchena said.
Ambassadors from Germany, Poland, Sweden, Spain, Portugal and France met in Luanda over the activists and their condition but offered no updates to press at the end of the meeting.
Ikonoklasta’s issues are mainly with President dos Santos and the elite class, who have ruled the country since 1979. So, Ikonoklast and others turned to Hip-Hop to protest some injustices like wealth inequality. Over half of Angola’s 24.3 million people live off $2 a day despite the fact that the country is Africa’s second biggest exporter of oil.
Ikonoklasta broke it down in a 2012 interview with OkayAfrica:
It is not the first time Ikonoklast has had run in with dos Santos’ government. In 2012, the rapper claims agents planted cocaine in his bicycle wheel as he attempted to catch a flight from Luanda to Lisbon.
Its a ruse the government has used to detain other activists in the past.
Ikonoklast and the other activists are slated to go on trial November 16th–20th and face 12 years in prison if they are convicted.
“The 15 activists have committed no crime and have been imprisoned solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression. They have simply fallen foul of a government intent on crushing dissent. They are prisoners of conscience and must be immediately and unconditionally released.” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.
So we must ask the question The Notorious B.I.G posed: “What’s Beef?”