Algeria: the repression against the Amazighs must stop! - Motion adopted by the 24th Congress of Regions and People in Solidarity (RPS)
Gustave Alirol, Président de RPS, Lorena Lacalle, Présidente de l’Alliance Libre Européenne et Belkacem Lounès, du CMA
On 19 June 2019, General Gaid Salah, head of the Algerian army, decided outside any legal framework to ban Amazigh flags during the popular demonstrations currently taking place in Algeria. In the following days, 41 people carrying the Amazigh flag were arrested and imprisoned in various Algerian prisons. They are prosecuted under article 79 of the Penal Code for "violation of the integrity of the national territory" and are punishable by a penalty of one to ten years' imprisonment and a fine of 3,000 to 70,000 Algerian dinars (20 to 500 Euros).
Some of these people were released in Tamanrasset, Chlef and Annaba. But to date, 34 people are still in prison awaiting trial.
On 5 July, Amnesty International stated that "arresting, harassing, intimidating or prosecuting a person solely for carrying a flag constitutes a flagrant violation of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and the cultural rights of the Amazigh community, as guaranteed by the Algerian Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Algeria is a party".
For the lawyers of the detainees for carrying the Amazigh flag, the material facts alleged against the defendants "do not in any way constitute an attack on the unity of the country, nor on any other offence provided for by law". And article 1 of the Penal Code states that "there is no offence, penalty or security measure without law". In addition, the Amazigh identity and language are enshrined in the Algerian Constitution. "It is therefore unacceptable that people are thrown in prison for waving the Amazigh flag," plead the lawyers for the bearers of the Amazigh emblem.
Consequently, the Federation of Regions and Peoples in Solidarity (RPS) strongly denounces the arbitrary detention of Amazigh flag bearers in Algeria and demands their immediate and unconditional release.
In addition, RPS notes with dismay the systematic and repeated violence and harassment committed against the Amazighs in Algeria, in particular against the defenders of the rights of the Kabyle, Mozabite and Chawi peoples. The abuses of power committed in the name of the Algerian state take the form of unjustified imprisonment, forced exile and death, such as that of Dr Kamel-Eddine Fekhar, who died in prison on 28 May after 53 days of hunger strike. His lawyer, Mr. Salah Dabouz, is placed under judicial control without legitimate reason, just to punish him for continuing to defend the Mozabits.
The Federation of Regions and Peoples in Solidarity denounces and strongly condemns the Algerian government's policy of stigmatizing and criminalizing the Amazighs of Algeria. It affirms that the Amazigh people, the indigenous people of Algeria and all of North Africa, must live in freedom and dignity in their own country and that they will stand by their side in all circumstances.
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