Algeria on Friday released a dozen “Hirak” activists in protest, the first party to be released during the president’s pardons issued before the second anniversary of a popular uprising.
One day after Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune dissolved the lower house of parliament and called for early legislative elections, the National Committee for the Liberation of Prisoners (CNLD), a rights group, announced on Friday the release of dozens of prisoners in a gesture of appeasment to the protest movement Hirak “.
“Hirak”, which means “movement” in Arabic, swept former strongman Abdelaziz Bouteflika from power in 2019, but continued after his fall.
In his speech late Thursday, Tebboune said about 55 to 60 Hirak members would benefit from the amnesty, with their release to begin immediately.
About 70 people are currently in jail for their ties to the Hirak movement or other peaceful opposition political activity, according to the CNLD.
Many of them were arrested for publishing anti-government posts on social media.
The presidency said the pardon would cover “perpetrators of crimes related to information and communication technologies”.
Cheers outside prisons
On Friday, journalists and families gathered to wait for prisoners to be released outside the prison in Kolea, a city 20 kilometers west of the capital Algiers.
🇩🇿🇩🇿ا🇩🇿🇩🇿🇩🇿🇩🇿 🇩🇿🇩🇿: 🇩🇿🇩🇿 🇩🇿🇩🇿g.: ي::: :جججشس سحشش El Harrach Prison: Liberation of the Brave Militant Amine Belmokhtar. pic.twitter.com/wM1YpQkQMR
– In Touati (@ epsilonov71) February 19, 2021
Among the detainees held in Kolea is journalist Khaled Drareni, who was sentenced to two years in prison in September and has become a symbol of the struggle for freedom of the press in Algeria.
Tebboune’s initiative comes ahead of Hirak’s second anniversary on 22 February and calls for a thorough overhaul of the ruling system in place since Algeria’s independence from France in 1962.
The unsurpassed protest movement was not stopped until March last year when the new coronavirus reached the North African country.
Algeria is facing political and economic crises, with the pandemic increasing the difficulties of the miserable economy.
On Tuesday, thousands of Algerians gathered in the northern city of Kherrata, where the first major protest erupted in 2019 against Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth presidential term.
Protesters demanded “the fall of the regime” and the “release of prisoners of conscience”.
( Jowharwith AFP)