Ghali Belkecir

Arbitrary arrests as Algeria’s military rejects a democratic transition

in North Africa/Stories

A serious deterioration of the political crisis in Algeria has now been confirmed. Over the past two weeks, the regime proceeded to a number of arbitrary arrests of political opponents and journalists. Some were beaten while in custody, others were stripped naked according to reports coming in from Algeria.

The Amazigh flag, symbol of the cultural heritage of the Berber minority in North Africa, was also banned, in what has been deemed as an attempt to stir up ethnic violence; this in order to divide the peaceful movement. Law enforcement went as far as proceeding to the systematic search of vehicles and demonstrators, looking for Amazigh flags.

Most of the arrestees are being prosecuted under a vague charge: ‘atteinte au moral des troupes‘ which roughly translates to ‘undermining the morale of the army‘. This broad accusation has been extensively used over the past few weeks as an excuse to lock up critical voices.

The most recent anti-regime activist to have been arrested and jailed is Lakhdar Bouregâa, a popular opposition figure who took part in the country’s independence war, he was arrested by elements of the army, days after publicly stating that the military already had the name of the next president. Another voice silenced is the one of Ali Ghediri, a retired general and candidate for last April’s cancelled presidential election.

A silent West

Countries with significant oil and gas interests in Algeria have been condemned by human rights activists for their silence in the face of the severe repression ongoing in the North African country.

Canada is the exception, with its ambassador in Algiers officially backing a democratic transition as demanded by the majority of Algerians.

Calls for civil disobedience and countrywide strikes have been multiplying, a large demonstration in Paris gathering thousands of people also took place this Sunday.

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(Last updated on 01/07/2019)

Jeffrey Nicholson contributes to the Algiers Herald in affairs related to public relations and politics. He has in the past worked as a senior officer for a large PR multinational based in the U.K.

2 Comments

  1. If the regime in Algeria starts to behave like the US claims Venezuela behaves facing against “peacefull” opposition, by rolling out the armored cars, will the US look at the Algerian regime like Maduro’s regime? Brian Ghilliotti

  2. Hmm, I was in Algeria very recently witnessing the Friday demonstrations near rue Mourad Didouche.
    It was all PEACEFUL, THE POLICE WERE FRIENDLY WITH THE PROTESTORS.
    Protestors were filming, taking pictures, nothing instable happened or shall happen.
    In fact, my friend who lives in the city center watches the demonstrations from her balcony and I have not heard anything terrible or tragic as the media desperately falsely portrays.
    The facts should become viewed by the eye of the local residents or visitors, not by photoshop.

    The police themselves have family members peacefully protesting, so it’s wisest to leave Algeria for the huge Algerian population to deal with, they have their say already and can think for themselves thank you very much. When the UK protests you never see the word “democracy” in the headlines, why this “hypocrisy”? Free speech for every human, no matter where.

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