Thousands of Algerians demonstrated in Algiers and other cities across the country on Friday, rooting the mobilization of the Hirak pro-democracy movement which resumed its marches at the end of February, AFP noted.
Since the 2nd anniversary of the popular uprising on February 22, Hirak demonstrators have resumed their marches on Friday, the movement’s weekly mobilization day before its suspension a year ago due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Hirak marches will continue until the regime, which does not want to hear our voice, ceases to exist,” Bilal, a 37-year-old civil servant, told AFP in the parade in Algiers.
In the capital, several processions took the main axes of the city center before converging on the Place de la Grande Poste, emblematic place of the Hirak gatherings.
Journalist Khaled Drareni, recently released from prison, covered the mobilization through his social media accounts. Imprisoned for almost a year for having covered a demonstration by Hirak, he announced upon his release to resume his profession and his fight for press freedom in Algeria.
With the traditional slogan “Civil status and not military”, the protesters blasted “the terrorist intelligence services” accused of torture by detainees or ex-detainees of Hirak.
“We went out today because we have the same demands as on February 22, 2019 (…). There has been no change, it is still the same power, the same procedures, the same people as under the system of (the deposed ex-president) Bouteflika, ”denounces Lotfi, a 27-year-old banker.
– The UN “very concerned” –
As every Friday, a large police force was deployed in the capital, while a helicopter flew over the center of Algiers. The protesters calmly dispersed at the end of the afternoon.
“I hope that my children and my grandchildren will live in an Algeria better than the one in which I have lived”, testifies Khadidja, a septuagenarian who has participated in all the marches of the movement since February 22, 2019.
Hirak marches took place in other large cities, such as Oran, Tiaret (west), Tizi Ouzou, Bouira, Béjaïa, Bordj Bou Arreridj, Sétif, Constantine and Annaba (east), to Ouargla (south) for this “107th” Friday of mobilization, reported social networks and local activists.
In Geneva, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Friday called on the Algerian authorities to immediately end violence against peaceful protests and end arbitrary detentions.
“We are very concerned by the deterioration of the human rights situation in Algeria and by the continued and increasing repression against members of the pro-democracy movement of Hirak,” said a spokesperson for the High Commission, Rupert. Colville.
According to “credible reports”, nearly a thousand people have been prosecuted in connection with the Hirak and / or for publications critical of the regime on social networks, he said.
Peaceful and plural, this unprecedented popular protest movement in Algeria continues to demand the dismantling of the “system” in place since independence in 1962, synonymous in its eyes with authoritarianism and corruption.
For its part, the regime claims to have already responded to the main demands of the protesters “in record time” and qualifies the Hirak militants as “counter-revolutionary magma”.