author: Sedrick de Carvalho
Publisher: Elivulu Editora | Perfil Criativo - Edições
Year of publication: June 2021, 1st edition
The publishers Elivulu (Angola) and Perfil Criativo (Portugal) following the publication of several editions dedicated to the issue of the collective memory of Angola, bring this year (2021) the prison diary of a young Angolan political prisoner, Sedrick de Carvalho, from the process known as 15+2, which reveals to us the backstage of his detention, arrest and trial.
The report begins on June 20, 2015, in Vila Alice (Luanda) when a group of young people met at ILULA to perform a collective reading of Gene Sharp's "From Dictatorship to Democracy". These young men were violently arrested by a special rapid intervention force of the Criminal Investigation Service (SIC), and later attended a bizarre trial in which they were accused of terrorism. They were extended to prison until 29 June 2016, when they were released by order of the Supreme Court.
By Sedrick de Carvalho
On March 3, 2016, I started this report on an old and small tablet. I say this to highlight the fact that i don't even have a computer at home, because our computer equipment remained with the Criminal Investigation Service (SIC) and the Attorney General's Office (PGR).
I was struggling to carry out the decision to start writing the account that the reader now has at hand. I call it "account" because it is simply that – an account – and nothing more. I also look at the date, so that we can easily understand the emotional state in which everything happened – since our arrest on June 20, 2015.
After reading on the website of Voz da América, on March 1, Tuesday, the news that three companions of the 15+2 process – Arante Kivuvu, Albano Bingo Bingo and Fernando Tomás «Nicolas» – had nothing to eat and, of course, were hungry, I was quite distressed.
The difficulties of all of us, who found ourselves under house arrest, were widespread. I heard them from the conversations with the comrades, still in the court cell, the days when we were waiting for the sessions to start. But to the point where some of them couldn't feed for days, unintentionally, it was too terrifying.
Also on March 1, dozens of Angolans died in Lubango, Huíla province, from floods caused by the rains. It will always be difficult to point out a specific number, but officially – although without confidence, because those who provide them are also unreliable – the deaths of 25 people have been reported. Local sources told me that the ages of the victims ranged from 2 to 72.
The next morning, the 2nd, the then President of the Republic, José Eduardo dos Santos, was present at the funeral of Lúcio Lara – one of the central figures of May 27 – who died on February 27. Tchiweka, his name of war, is inessurebly a historical man within the People's Liberation Movement of Angola (MPLA) and the country, for the best and worst reasons, especially for the negative (worst).
I note the presence of José Eduardo dos Santos at the funeral of a party activist of which he was president for 39 years, considered the "fundamental pillar" of the MPLA, when he only issued, through the Civil House, a note of condolence to the relatives of more than two dozen Angolans killed and many missing in Lubango.
I was, exactly, writing down this insensitivity when it was in the central news of Angolan Public Television (TPA) – which I tune a few times and always unto distaste – to information about the start of another ordinary congress of the Angolan Women's Organization (OMA), the women's wing of the ruling party. And there was also the president of the MPLA. He was pleased to attend that cult of worship himself. In the afternoon, the Angolanvictims of the flood were buried. No very high or high member of the Government was present at the act. So much contempt for the people!
It was in this blighted environment that I began this account. A simple but necessary description of what I went through while I was in prison – from detention to the police station; from isolation cells to São Paulo prison; from the beginning of the trial to house arrest; condemnation to return to dungeons; and, finally, freedom.
I would like to stress that it is a 'necessary description' because it is really indispensable to narrate the atrocities we have been victims of, we, the 17, initially 15 political prisoners, by institutions and individualities that officially, professionally and humanly should defend legality, as well as promote the human rights and well-being of all Angolans.
One of the objectives that dictatorships want to achieve with prison isolation is to stop the cognitive abilities of prisoners, so that they can be reduced to mere "puppets with a man's face, all with the same behavior as Pavlov's dog". A torture tactic used by Adolf Hitler in concentration and extermination camps and so well explained by Hannah Arendt in the book The origins of totalitarianism. But individuality, that part of the human person, Arendt said, and the experts in the psychological and psychiatric forum confirm, is the most difficult to destroy. And they couldn't destroy mine.
He was isolated, but not alone. In the lonely cells I've been through, I've never been lonely because I talked to myself a lot. Does that sound like a principle of madness? I don't think so. And if it is, then we're all crazy.
Although I have technical knowledge of law, precisely in criminal matters, I have chosen to avoid any legal framework for various actions and omissions which are undoubtedly contrary to Angolan laws and the many international treaties ratified. This does not presuppose that a more detailed approach to the whole process is not made from a legal point of view. However, this perspective – the continuous and systematic violations, a governmental and judicial pornography at the pleasure of the laws – will, I think, be largely stowed into books authored by lawyers who, throughout the process, have defended us.
It should be noted that this account is in line with the writings of my companions, since it is almost impossible to retain all the events that have occurred during the ordeal we have gone through.
As a result of the conviction, I did not write it again until 4 August 2016. It had left in the subtitle The Commissioner of the PN in the first chapter. He still had no material seized, but wrote on a computer offered by Alexandre Solombe, then president of the Southern Africa Communication Institute – MISA Angola.
And it wasn't until the end of 2019 that I completed this book, fulfilling the promise I made to myself.