The list of prisoners of conscience is growing in Algeria. On the eve of the commemoration of the third year of Hirak, this peaceful protest movement which has been calling for democratic change since February 22, 2019, dozens of people were arrested by the security services, across several regions of the country. According to the National Committee for the Liberation of Detainees (CNLD) they would be at least fifty people, this week, to be arrested by the police, before being placed under arrest warrant.
Among the people targeted, in Algiers, Oran, Tlemcen or even in Kabylia, are human rights activists, activists, students and even women. They are added to the long list of people already imprisoned, more than 300, according to the CNLD. According to the same source, the arrested Algerians are prosecuted for ” incitement to unarmed crowds », « spreading misleading information on social media ” or “ attack on national unity “. Since mid-February, a climate of tension has reigned in the country’s cities, such as in Algiers, the capital, where the police force has been reinforced. The country’s authorities fear the resumption of popular demonstrations which blocked, in 2019, the fifth term of ousted president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
READ ALSO: “Hirak 2: tutorial for a successful revolution”
In Kabylia, in the symbolic city of Hirak, Kherrata, an attempted demonstration on February 16 was prevented by the security services, who arrested 14 people, according to press reports. national. They join the 42 Algerians from the same region who have been imprisoned since last September under article 87 bis of the Penal Code, which qualifies these activists as “ terrorists ” Where ” of persons belonging to a terrorist entity “. In this case the Movement for the self-determination of Kabylia (MAK) or Rachad, an Islamo-conservative movement very involved in Hirak. Since January 28, article 87 bis has been controversial in Algeria. He is at the origin of a hunger strike movement, in the prison of El-Harrach, in Algiers, where prisoners of conscience – most of whom have been awaiting their trial for several months – denounce this new provision, which equates to “ terrorism » any request for « changing the system of governance through unconventional means “.
“Strategy of Terror”
The intensification of the repression of the Algerian authorities against the militants of the vast protest movement of February 22, 2019, installs the country in a climate of unprecedented tension. Great concern has taken hold of Algerian public opinion which sees, powerless, the decline in freedoms worsening and the hopes of their “smile revolution” dying out. ” The power in place seems more than ever determined to stifle any desire for democratic change born of the peaceful revolution of the Algerians in 2019 », Says, in this regard, the lawyer Abdelghani Badi.
READ ALSO: Algeria: Islamists attempt a takeover bid on the Hirak movement
For this active member of the Collective for the Defense of Detainees, the multiplication and trivialization of arrests aim to install a climate of terror in Algeria, and thus break any demand for democratic change. ” Experienced in the strategy of terror, the power in place seeks to paralyze all forms of opposition, particularly among Algerian youth who had acquired a taste for freedom during the major Hirak demonstrations. “, he explains. Worse still, this dangerous shift has the ultimate goal of criminalizing the political act “, worries the lawyer Abdelghani Badi. “ It is the very idea of campaigning for freedoms that is being fought. Algerians are today afraid to exercise their rights of freedom of expression, freedom of opinion or even freedom of demonstration, which are nevertheless enshrined and guaranteed by the Constitution. “, he adds.