Police release prisoners who are immediately followed by armed, plainclothes men, who bundle them into vehicles, kidnap them and drive them around in circles, dumping them out in the back of beyond… They all thought they were going to be killed.
This description did not come out of a work of fiction. It happened las week in Angola, where the government praises itself to abide by the rule of law.
Reading descriptions of the events of 29 July past – police jumping over walls to break down doors and arrest people without warrants, secret service giving orders to police, secret service commanders setting up prisons, large-scale police operations directed by secret service – it looks like the Angolan siloviks are taking control, as in Putin’s Russia. The “tough guys” – or siloviks, as KGB agents are called – have taken over the key positions of power, driving the country towards autocracy.
All these acts could have been taken straight out of the Tcheka’s manual of bad practice, the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s political police, and constitute the usual prelude to the beginning of a witch-hunt.
When one reads descriptions of the activities of the chief of Central Command of Military Counter-Intelligence, of the Military Intelligence and Security Service (SISM), Lieutenant-General José Afonso Peres “Filó” directing operations and interrogating prisoners, when one takes note of the conversations held between this high-ranking director of the Secret Service and the chief of SISM, General Zé Maria, what one discovers is that the Angolan State of Lawful Democracy, protected by the Constitution, now has a different source of legal authority: the orders of the secret police.
At the same time, a surprising level of disorientation and security is in evidence where police action is concerned. Operating without a legal mandate and without clear orders from the normal chain of command, police officers may be seen to hesitate, equivocate, beat and apologise, arrest and release. Anarchy is setting in within the power structure, opening the door for the “durőes”, whose mission it is to impose order through force.
Meanwhile, public speaking has become contaminated with Orwellian euphemisms, a clear sign of the drift into a police autocracy. For example, instead of saying “arrested” the term “collected” is used. Soon, "free" will mean in custody, "democracy" will mean dictatorship and "good" will mean bad.
It is becoming clearer all the time: a massive and intense solidification of the regime led by the siloviks is taking place, far beyond the putative dismantling of the revolutionary youth movement, which has been used as a scapegoat.
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