Press release / Brutal crackdown on demonstrators reported

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Forum des journalistes libres

Over the past two weeks, the authorities of Algeria have started a large crackdown on the peaceful demonstrators demanding democracy, and no one is being spared.

During yesterday’s large peaceful demonstrations across the country, a number of journalists, opposition members of parliament and hundreds of regular citizens were arrested and beaten up by the Algerian police, reports the local media. Even old ladies were reportedly arrested for wearing traditional Berber dresses.

The journalist Mustapha Bendjama, was arrested, forced to strip naked and beaten by law enforcement.

Amazigh flags were routinely seized by law enforcement in what Algerians consider a clear attempt by the regime to stir up ethnic violence in the country, after failing to weaken the revolution. Cornered, unrecognised by the country’s population, the regime is slowly opting for an El-Sisi type of regime.

Three football fans, who were in Egypt to support the national team as part of the African Cup of Nations, were arrested by the Egyptian authorities for waving an anti-government sign during the country’s opening game. The fans were expelled back to Algeria where they were arrested once again and brought to court for what are essentially bogus charges.

Dozens of others, who dared wave the Amazigh flag, symbol of their cultural heritage as Berbers, remain in custody, eight days after they were arbitrarily arrested.

Canada, through its ambassador in Algeria, has been so far the only western country to side with the Algerian people in their quest for a democratic future.

The Forum of Free Journalists has today denounced the actions of the authorities through a press release which we are publishing below in its integrality. This comes less than a week after the same organisation denounced the pressures the media is facing in the country.

Press release

On Friday, June 28, 2019, the Annaba-based editor of the regional newspaper ‘Le Provincial‘, Mustapha Bendjama, was arrested by the police while covering the weekly popular demonstration.

Led to the police station, he was brutalized and suffered a terrible humiliation, the police forced him, he testifies, to undress completely before them.

The same day, in Algiers, journalist Bouzid Ichallalene of the Inter-lignes news outlet was also arrested by the police while conducting an interview with RCD Member of Parliament Fetta Sadat. Led to the police station, he was released some time later.

These arrests and police brutality against journalists come at a time when the government has put the screed on the media.

The Forum of Free Journalists with its founding principles of the defence of freedom of the press and expression, vividly denounces these arrests targeting journalists in the accomplishment of their mission.

The Forum also strongly opposes all forms of intimidation against media professionals and calls for the immediate cessation of pressure to prevent the media and journalists from reporting objectively on what the country is going through.

ALGIERS, 28th June 2019.

Forum des Journalistes Libres

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