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 the legal argument 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.
- Activists accuse Britain of ‘gas grab’ in Algeria despite human rights abuses – The Guardian
- UK puts business over human rights in Algeria – DW
(Last updated on 01/07/2019)