Algerian socialists appeal for solidarity as crackdown on opposition intensifies

Photo: Zoheir Aberkane via Facebook

The Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LADDH) reported on 25 May a serious escalation in the repression and violence facing the opposition to the Algerian regime.

A few days before the parliamentary elections on 12 June which are supposed to bring about a ‘New Algeria’, the regime is resorting to all-out repression against the peaceful Hirak protests, the democratic opposition, civil society, independent journalists and all dissenting voices.

In a statement on Facebook on 25 May, Said Salhi, Vice President of LADDH stated: “2,000 arrests in two weeks, 175 prisoners of conscience in 3 months since President Tebboune’s pardon last February, hundreds of Hirakists on bail, one journalist in prison and others under judicial control, political parties threatened with dissolution, associations too.”

The LADDH also notes “Freedom of organization and pluralism is one of the most important achievements of October 88, it is a fundamental human right, one of the pillars of any democracy.”

On 14 May the 117th Friday of popular protest against the regime was marked by fierce repression and dozens of arrests. In Algiers, journalists and photographers from the online press , news agency correspondents, such as AFP and Reuters were also arrested by the security services.  Arrested again was the journalist Khaled Drareni who spent 10 months in prison last year. Female journalist Kenza Khattou was violently arrested in Algiers.

This shows the blind determination of the regime to put an end to the popular dissent movement that has agitated the country for more than two years.

Several opposition political parties and organisations have been threatened by the Ministry of the Interior with dissolution: the PST (Socialist Workers Party), the UCP (Union for Change and Progress), the RAJ (Youth Action Assembly), the PT (Workers Party), the MDS (Democratic and Social Movement), the RCD (Rally for Culture and Democracy) and the association in the heart of the popular quarter, SOS BAB EL OUED. 

On 22 May 22, the general secretary of the PST Mahmoud Rechidi announced that “the authorities have initiated summary proceedings for the provisional suspension of the PST, all its political activities and the closure of its premises”. He appealed for unconditional support for the comrades of the PST.

Many political leaders and activists have been harassed and arrested, such as Wahid Ben Halla (Leader of the MDS), Mohcen Belabbes (President of the RCD ) and Ali Laskri (Leader of the FFS).

Even a lawyer in Tebessa was arrested when he presented himself to defend a Hirak activist.

At least 3,000 individuals, including human rights defenders and peaceful protesters, have been arbitrarily arrested since 18 February 2021.

Terrorism charges against the opposition

On 29 April in Oran, three members of The Algerian League for The Defence of Human Rights (LADDH), along with 12 other Hirak activists, were charged with belonging to a terrorist or subversive organisation, which could lead to twenty years’ imprisonment.

Kaddour Chouicha is a university lecturer, and vice president of LADDH. Said Boudour is a journalist, and works to defend the rights of migrants and political prisoners. Jamila Loukil is a women’s rights defender and journalist covering the peaceful Hirak demonstrations in Oran.

These new terrorism charges constitute a dangerous escalation in attacks against journalists and human rights defenders, and the Hirak peaceful protest movement itself.

On 18 May the High Security Council chaired by President Tebboune placed two organisations based abroad on the list of “terrorist organisations”: MAK and Rachad. MAK (Movement for the self-determination of Kabylia) arose out of the “Black Spring” of 2001, when protests in Kabylia were violently repressed, leaving 126 Kabyles dead and thousands severely injured. On the conservative wing of the Hirak protest is the Rachad movement, founded in 2007 by, amongst others, former activists from the FIS (Islamic Salvation Front).

Although both organisations have their critics, the regime is aiming to legitimise the criminalisation of political organisations which do not follow its imposition of the 12 June elections.

What you can do:

  • Rush messages of solidarity to the organisations under threat of closure – reach the PST on Facebook here, and LADDH here. You can also send a message via MENA Solidarity on Facebook and we will pass it on.
  • Send a letter of protest to the Algerian ambassador in your country calling for an end to the harassment of opposition organisations and the release of politica prisoners
  • Pass a resolution in your union branch in solidarity with Algerian activists under threat.

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