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Algerian Authorities Clamp Down on Protesters

Algerian Authorities Clamp Down on Protesters

Sunday, 15 March, 2020 - 10:00
Algerians take to the streets in the capital Algiers to protest against the government. (AP)

Algerian lawyers condemned the arrest of a number of Hirak activists in Algiers' protests Friday night, in which the police forcibly prevented a massive demonstration.

Abdelghani Badi, one of the most prominent lawyers defending the detainees, published on his social media account the image of Abdelkader Ras al-Ma, who was arrested on Friday night after he was previously arrested and released early January.

Badi condemned the “renewed crackdowns” on protesters, noting that Abdelkader suffers from a heart condition and that he is in critical condition. He said that “his guilt is that he loves Algeria,” referring to Abdelkader’s participation in Friday’s protests despite knowing that he might get arrested again.

Protesters addressed the arrest of journalist Khaled Drareni, a correspondent for Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and French TV5.

Drareni's friends believe he was arrested because he violated the judicial supervision procedures, which the court imposed on him after he was accused of “harming the national unity.”

Drareni’s last online activity was through a Facebook post in which he praised the detainees, Samir Belarbi and Suleiman Hamtouche.

Drareni and Hamtouche, who were detained over the same charges, spent four nights together in a detention center at the security unit last week.

Belarbi was acquitted a month ago, after five months in prison over charges of “weakening the morale of the army.”

Meanwhile, vice president of Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH) Said Salhi announced that the police arrested activists in “Maurice Audin” square.

Police also stopped a protest in Oran, the largest city in the west of the country, and attacked protesters with batons. It chased some of them in the streets and arrested dozens.

Former secretary-general of Youth Action Rally (RAJ) Hakim Addad said the activists were trying to organize a peaceful protest in Algiers, but police repressed it without mercy.

“We are facing the virus of the authority and the coronavirus, but we will defeat them peacefully.”

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