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Prisoners of Conscience in Algeria Go on Hunger Strike

Prisoners of Conscience in Algeria Go on Hunger Strike

Tuesday, 8 October, 2019 - 07:15
Protesters raise Algerian flags in Algiers on Friday, October 4, 2019 (Reuters)

Almost 100 prisoners of conscience began a hunger strike in Algeria on Monday to protest against their “arbitrary detention” for supporting the popular movement, their lawyers said.

One of the protesters is Lakhdar Bouregaa, 87, who was detained in June on charges of “contributing to weakening the army’s morale” after slamming Army Chief of Staff General Ahmed Gaid Salah.

He suffers from health diseases, and his family is afraid this strike would worsen his health condition.

Other strikers include journalist Fodil Boumala and political activists Samir Belarbi and Karim Tabou.

In a press conference in Algiers, lawyers said that the prisoners are “determined to continue their strike until they are released.”

Other detainees, some of whom were convicted by the judiciary, are classified by the media and political circles as political prisoners, including Labor Party leader Louisa Hanoune, retired officers General Hocine Benhadid, 76, and Major General Ali Ghadiri.

Ghadiri ran for president the election scheduled for 18 April which was canceled by the movement against Bouteflika for running for a fifth term.

In September, Hanoune was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The majority of the popular movement prisoners, as they are called, are located in El Harrach Prison, located in the eastern suburb of the capital.

Former premiers Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal, and many ministers and businessmen, who were part of Bouteflika’s regime, are detained in this prison.

The examining magistrate of the Oran Court, west Algeria, questioned Monday journalist Said Boudour, who is a member of the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights and had already been imprisoned for his political positions.

His interrogation lasted for many hours, during which activists demonstrated in front of the court raising slogans and demanding his release.

According to Abdelghani Badi, one of the most prominent lawyers defending “prisoners of conscience,” some prisoners are being pursued on charges of “offending national unity” and others on charges of “raising signs that would harm public order.”

Both charges are linked to the activity of hundreds of people participating in Friday's demonstrations since February 22.

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