On April 6, 2020 Algerian courts sentenced Abdelouahab Fersaoui guilty for “compromising the integrity of the national territory” and “hampering the transport of military material”. The 39-year-old academic and RAJ (Rassemblement Actions Jeunesse) president will stay in jail for one year.
Karim Tabbou, the national coordinator of the unrecognized Democratic and Socialist Union party will go to the courts on April 27 for the same reasons. In previous trial the court found that Tabbou remarks show his intention to “divide the military institution and incite to chaos within it … at a time when the country is unstable.” The remarks were “Young army officers will … free the [military] institution … in a way that suits the Hirak.… Young competent officers will be able to free [Algeria] from the gang … inside that institution.”
The National Committee for the Liberation of Detainees, created on August 26, 2019 by activists and lawyers who monitor the trials, states that at least 173 protesters are currently on trial on charges stemming from their peaceful participation in protests or for their activism or even for working as journalists. On February 16, 2020 the police in Algiers prohibited groups active in the Hirak (movement) from holding a news conference in a hotel in the capital.
Journalists like Khaled Drareni, Sofiane Merakchi, Belkacim Djir, Fodil Boumala, and activists Ibrahim Daoudji, Slimane Hamitouche and Samir Belarbi are among the arrested.
The most common charges the jailed protesters are facing are “participation in an illegal gathering” under article 97 of the penal code, and “compromising the integrity of the national territory” under article 79.
In a particularly disturbing development, on February 10, the Justice Ministry ordered the transfer of a prosecutor, Mohamed Sid Ahmed Belhadi, to El Oued, 600 kilometers south of Algiers, after Belhadi had urged Sidi Mhamed court to acquit 16 protesters arrested on January 17, saying they had been prosecuted solely for exercising their right to freedom of assembly. The National Union of Algerian Magistrates labelled the transfer as “political punishment and retaliation” for the prosecutor’s remarks.
Under the Law Governing Public Meetings and Demonstrations, enacted in 1989 and amended in 1991, a group planning a public gathering must notify the governor three days in advance, who immediately provides a receipt. In practice the authorities often withhold delivering such a receipt and use the absence of a receipt as proof that the organizers had failed to comply with the law.
The IWL-FI stands in solidarity with Algerian Revolution and join other organization like the ILNSS (International Labour Network for Solidarity and Struggles) and HRW (Human Rights Watch) demanding the immediate release of all 173 HIrak political prisoners as well as scrapping all authoritarian legislation out of the constitution, the penal code and all other laws.
Democratic rights like Free Speech, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Association must be fought for as they are fundamental in the workers’ struggle for emancipation.
Glory to the Martyrs!
Freedom for Algerian Political Prisoners!