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Algeria: call to release people arrested since the protest movement


Forty-two protesters are charged with "attacking national unity" for brandishing or selling Berber flags.

Algerian and Berber flags during an anti-government demonstration in Algiers, June 21, 2019. Ramzi Boudina / REUTERS

The prolonged preventive detention of forty-two people arrested in recent months during the ongoing protest movement in Algeria is "as unfair as illegal," denounced Wednesday, August 28 an association calling for their "immediate release" . The instruction about them "stretches voluntarily over time," denounced in a statement the National Committee for the release of detainees (CNLD).

The group, which brings together families, lawyers, journalists and human rights activists, was created on August 26 to obtain the release of "political prisoners and opinion" . He considered that these "illegal" detentions were aimed at "making detainees a bargaining chip or a means of blackmail for the implementation of the road map" of the Algerian power who wants the protest to accept the holding of a presidential election. . But for the CNLD, this roadmap of power is intended to "regenerate the political system" challenged by the street.

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The Algerian authorities and army want to organize a presidential election as soon as possible to elect a successor to former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, forced to resign on 2 April by the "hirak" , the unprecedented protest movement unleashed on 22 February. But the demonstrations continue, demanding the departure of the power of the faithful of the ousted president before any election.

"Slowness of the procedure"

"We denounce the slowness of the procedure" aimed at "forty-two people incarcerated in Algiers" , some of whom have been in prison since June and "nobody knows when the trial will be organized," told AFP Kaci Tansaout, coordinator CNLD. These detainees are accused of attacking national unity for brandishing or selling Amazigh flags (Berber), after the army banned on June 19 any flag other than the national emblem in anti-regimes demonstrations, according to Mr. Tansaout.

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"They are indicted on the basis of Article 79" of the Penal Code which punishes up to ten years in prison "anyone who has undertaken, by any means whatsoever, to undermine the integrity of the national territory" , Tansaout said. But he felt that this was not the case of arrested protesters, especially since no text, according to him, "prohibits the wearing of the Amazigh flag" . On 8 August, a court in Annaba (north-east) acquitted a demonstrator arrested in possession of an Amazigh flag that was being tried for "attacking national unity" . The prosecution had required ten years in prison.

Source: lemonde

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