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In Algeria, the authorities "tighten the screw" against the challenge


According to Human Rights Watch, some 40 protesters arrested since June are still in pre-trial detention and charged with "violating the integrity of the territory."

Anti-Government demonstration in Algiers, August 30, 2019. Ramzi Boudina / REUTERS

Arrests, police deterrent, restrictions on freedom of assembly and expression: the Algerian authorities "tighten the screw" against the protest movement of the regime that has been in Algeria since February 22, denounced Monday Human Rights Watch ( HRW). "The authorities arrested people who only waved a flag or a sign. They imprisoned a veteran of the war of independence because he had criticized the army, prevented meetings of political parties and associations, and blocked a leading news site " , lists the organization of defense of human rights in a statement received in Algiers.

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Every Friday, day of big demonstration for nearly thirty weeks, a massive police device, in the streets of the center of Algiers and dams erected on the roads leading to the capital, limit the number of those able to join the procession, continues HRW. "The authorities have initially tolerated the demonstrations of millions of people demanding political reforms, " but "now tighten the screws," said Lama Fakih, his acting regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Some 40 demonstrators arrested since June are in custody and charged with "violation of the integrity of the territory" , a crime punishable by 10 years in prison, for brandishing the Amazigh (Berber) flag which the army banned. -June presence in the demonstrations. "Branding a flag of an ethnic community is an act of peaceful expression protected by" international conventions ratified by Algeria, says HRW.

Several foreign journalists expelled

On Wednesday, a protester arrested in early July for brandishing a Berber flag and tried for "undermining the integrity of the territory" was acquitted by a court in Mostaganem (280 km east of Algiers), while the prosecution had required two years in prison against him. He is the second demonstrator tried and acquitted of this charge after brandishing a Berber flag.

On August 27, the authorities banned two meetings of organizations at the forefront of the protest movement: that of the Rassemblement Action Jeunesse (RAJ), a civic association, and that of the Forces de l'alternative démocratique, a coalition of parties that demand the dismantling of current institutions for the benefit of transition bodies.

Read also Algeria: call to release people arrested since the protest movement

In August, an HRW member, Ahmed Benchemsi, who was observing a demonstration, was also arrested, detained for 10 hours and deprived of a passport for 10 days, before being deported, without being charged with any charges. , recalls the NGO.

Several foreign journalists have also been deported since April, including the director of the AFP office in Algiers, special envoys from the Reuters agency and the Turkish TV channel TRT, while the news website TSA (Tout sur l ' Algeria) has been inaccessible in the country since June. "The authorities are violating rights and intensifying repression," said Fakih. They "should back off and give the Algerian people the freedom of expression and assembly to which they are entitled" .

Source: lemonde

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