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Posts tagged ‘Amazigh Land of Algeria’

Algeria’s Belhadj slams boycott of Qatar

June 15, 2017

Co-founder of Algeria’s Islamic Salvation Front, Sheikh Ali Belhadj, has criticized the siege imposed by a number of Gulf and Arab countries on Qatar.

In an interview with Quds Press, Belhadj strongly criticized the involvement of Islamic institutions and using them to achieve political purposes against the State of Qatar.

“The involvement of the Muslim World League, with the aim of gaining legitimacy for the siege against Qatar, is an insult to this institution and to the teachings of Islam which refuse such behavior in the holy month of Ramadan,” he said.

The Muslim World League should have remained neutral towards this dispute and sought to heal the rift instead of involving itself in such a way.

Belhadj pointed out that Qatar is not the target of the blockade, but the aim is to strike every Arab or Islamic country that wants to support the oppressed or the Palestinian cause.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170615-algerias-belhadj-slams-boycott-of-qatar/.

Syria refugees still stranded between Morocco and Algeria

2017-06-07

ALGIERS – Dozens of Syrian refugees remained stranded in no-man’s land between Morocco and Algeria on Tuesday, non-governmental groups said, despite an Algerian offer to help.

Algiers said last week it would take in the refugees after the United Nations urged both sides to help the Syrians, who include a pregnant woman and have been stranded in the desert area since April 17.

“The Syrian refugee families are still blocked on the border between Algeria and Morocco. Authorities on both sides are passing each other the buck,” said Noureddine Benissad of the Algerian League of Human Rights.

Saida Benhabiles, the head of the Algerian Red Crescent, said a joint team from her organisation and the UN refugee agency have been waiting on the Algerian border since late Monday.

“There’s no obstacle on the Algerian side,” she said. “But the problem is they’re in Moroccan territory and we can’t go to get them.”

In a statement, non-governmental groups including the Moroccan Association of Human Rights, International Federation for Human Rights and the Algerian League of Human Rights urged “authorities in both countries to find an immediate solution”.

The zone between the two countries has been closed since 1994. The North African rivals have very difficult relations, especially over the question of Western Sahara.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://middle-east-online.com/english/?id=83429.

Remembering the massacre of 45,000 Algerians

May 8, 2017

What: French massacre of Algerians

When: 8 May 1945

Where: Setif, Guelma and surrounding areas

What Happened?

As Europe celebrated the beginning of the end of World War II with Germany surrendering on 8 May 1945, thousands of Algerian men, women and children were mobilized by the French in Algeria to mark the victory of the Allied forces over the Nazis.

Anti-French sentiment and the anti-colonial movement had been building across Algeria for months, leading to protests prior to 8 May. Some 4,000 protesters took to the streets of Setif, a town in northern Algeria, to press new demands for independence on the colonial government and greater rights.

Many organizations joined the protest where they held up placards including “End to occupation” and “We want equality”. When a 14-year-old member of the Muslim Scouts, Saal Bouzid, held an Algerian flag, the French on orders from General Duval, opened fire on the unarmed protesters killing Bouzid and thousands of others.

Panic ensued and clashes between the Algerians and French quickly led to violence with the French using all attempts to control the population. The colonial forces launched an air and ground offensive against several eastern cities, particularly in Setif and Guelma.

The head of the temporary government of France at the time, General De Gaulle, ordered for farmers and villagers from surrounding areas to be killed in what quickly became lynching operations and summary executions.

Thousands of bodies accumulated so quickly that burying them was impossible so they were often dumped in wells or surrounding ravines.

The violence would continue until 22 May when the tribes surrendered. By then, 45,000 Algerian men, women and children in and around the region of Setif, Guelma and Kherrata had been killed along with 102 French casualties.

What Happened next?

The massacre by the French provoked the anti-colonial movement and nine years later Algeria began its War of Independence in November 1954 – a fight which would claim the lives of 1.5 million Algerians until independence was declared in 1962.

The 8 May is an official day of mourning in Algeria which contrasts heavily with the celebratory anniversary around Europe. On February 2005, Hubert Colin de Verdière, France’s ambassador to Algeria, formally apologized for the massacre, calling it an “inexcusable tragedy”. President of Algeria Abdelaziz Bouteflika has called the Setif massacre the beginning of a “genocide” perpetrated during the Algerian War by French occupation forces. France has denounced this description.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170508-remembering-the-massacre-of-45000-algerians/.

Algeria’s reclusive president to mark 80th birthday

2017-03-01

ALGIERS – Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has rarely appeared in public since a crippling stroke in 2013, marks his 80th birthday on Thursday amid persistent doubts over his health.

He suffered a bout of bronchitis in February, forcing German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the last minute to cancel a scheduled visit to Algiers and sparking renewed speculation about his future.

“The president has not directly addressed the Algerians since 2012. No Algerian can believe that there is not a power vacuum,” Ahmed Adhimi, a professor of political science at the University of Algiers, said.

In a May 2012 speech, Bouteflika hinted he would give up power at the end of his third term in 2014.

“For my generation, it’s game over,” the president told a room full of young Algerians.

But despite a stroke the following year which forced him to spend nearly three months recovering in France, he fought the 2014 election and soundly beat his longtime rival, former prime minister Ali Benflis.

Bouteflika attended his inauguration in a wheelchair, barely able to deliver more than a few paragraphs of his speech and mumble through the oath of office.

Since then, he has rarely appeared in public, receiving foreign heads of state or government in privacy at his official residence in Zeralda, west of the capital.

– ‘Power vacuum’ –

His opponents repeatedly speak of a power vacuum at the top of government.

But Bouteflika has clung to power, restructuring the army and intelligence services and keeping rivals at bay.

In 2015, he dismissed the Abdelkader Ait Ouarabi, a powerful counter-terrorism chief known as “General Hassan” who was later sentenced to five years in jail for destroying documents and disobeying orders.

The following day, Bouteflika dismissed secret service boss General Mohamed Mediene, a political kingmaker during his 25 years at the head of the DRS intelligence agency.

But the cancellation of the octogenarian’s meeting with Merkel last month rekindled doubts about the state of political life in Algeria.

“Bouteflika’s illness is not a problem in itself,” said Redouane Boudjemaa, a media expert at the University of Algiers.

“The real debate is not about whether the president goes or stays, but about the fate of this system, (which is) corrupt, resistant to any change and ready to keep him president for life,” he said.

For many Algerians, the president’s long disappearances reflect an opaque system dominated by the military.

“I sometimes question the authenticity of the images broadcast on (public) television showing President Bouteflika receiving foreign guests,” said Mourad, a retiree aged nearly 70 who struggles to get by on a derisory pension.

He said he is “convinced that the army has ruled the country since the country’s independence in 1962”.

But Djamel, an employee of Algeria’s state railway company, said Bouteflika had achieved a lot and “sacrificed himself” for Algeria.

“He accepted a fourth mandate to complete the projects he launched,” he said, underlining the division of public opinion on Bouteflika.

A veteran of Algeria’s war of independence, “Boutef” was born on March 2, 1937 in the Moroccan border town of Oujda to a family from Tlemcen, western Algeria.

In power since 1999, he has faced a decade of health problems that have forced him to spend long periods being treated abroad.

A bleeding stomach ulcer dispatched him to Paris for an operation in late 2005, one of multiple stays in French hospitals.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://middle-east-online.com/english/?id=81772.

Algerians take steps to prosecute France for nuclear tests

February 15, 2017

The top human rights organisation in Algeria announced yesterday that it has contacted the UN Human Rights Council regarding France’s refusal to admit to the crimes of its nuclear test program. The French government carried out 17 nuclear tests in the Algerian desert, causing the death of 42,000 individuals; thousands more were left chronically ill due to being exposed to nuclear radiation.

The details were revealed in a statement by the National Secretary of the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights, Houari Kaddour, who is tasked with this issue, during an interview with Anadolu news agency. Kaddour stressed that his organisation “is trying to use all legal means to put the French authorities on trial and prosecute them in all international legal bodies, as well as in the EU, for their crimes.”

Algeria marked the 57th anniversary of the French nuclear tests two days ago. They were carried out between 1960 and 1966; Algeria gained independence from France in 1962. The French authorities still refuse to admit to these crimes and instead have announced that they will pay financial compensation to the victims.

According to Kaddour, his organisation contacted the UN Human Rights council and requested it to look into the crimes. “We also urged the Algerians in Europe to help us find lawyers specializing in international law to file a lawsuit against France in the next three months, before the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights in the EU. We also plan to prosecute France in the local courts in Switzerland which specialize in international crimes.”

Kaddour said that his organisation is coordinating with a number of human rights and international bodies in this regard, including all international human rights organisations, international organisations against nuclear testing, and French human rights groups. He noted that the Algerians had submitted over 730,000 compensation cases that were rejected by the compensation committee due to the impossible conditions imposed on the victims. Civilian victims, he added, are not recognized.

The Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights accused the Algerian authorities of “not putting enough pressure on France to admit to these crimes.”

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170215-algerians-take-steps-to-prosecute-france-for-nuclear-tests/.

Algeria: How cancelling elections led to war

January 11, 2017

What: 1992 elections are cancelled by the military

Where: Algeria

When: 11 January 1992

What happened?

By October 1988, Algerians’ anger was made tangible for the country’s ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) party, and deadly protests in Algiers forced the FLN to accept the reality that they were no longer infallible against the masses.

As a result, new constitutional reforms introduced by President Chadli Bendjedid enabled multi-party participation for the first time since the inception of the autocratic FLN regime in 1962. The party which benefited the most from this new introduction was the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), formed on 18 February 1989, whose popularity exploded amongst marginalized Algerians tired of their exclusion from the socio-political environment.

The FIS were able to make considerable gains in their first year by building bridges with the young urban poor. Indeed, it was mainly due to meetings between Bendjedid and FIS’ Ali Benhadj, as well as members of the Muslim Brotherhood, that the October riots began to peter out.

By 12 June 1990, the first free local elections since independence took place, with Algerian voters choosing the FIS and winning 54% of votes; more than double what the FLN received or any other parties.

However, the Gulf War against Iraq in January 1991 provoked a change in the FLN’s tolerance of FIS. Benhadj, a charismatic preacher, delivered an impassioned speech for volunteers to fight alongside Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and this was seen as an affront to the military hierarchy. A strike called by the FIS against the realignment of electoral districts provoked a state of emergency in June 1991 in which parliamentary elections were postponed till December. Soon after, FIS leaders Abassi Madani and Ali Benhadj were arrested and later sentenced to twelve years in prison.

Despite all this, FIS participated in the first round of legislative elections on 26 December 1991 and won with a resounding majority in a voter turnout of 59%. The party was able to secure 231 seats with more predictable gains in the second round of ballots on 13 January 1992. The FLN came second with just 16 elected deputies and Hocine Ait Ahmed’s Socialist Forces Front in third place.

The inevitability of a victory, a first for an Islamist party, was beginning to make the Algerian elite uncomfortable, not to mention elites in Paris who were watching their former colony. For the US, the possibility of a party, despite being democratically elected, that could be hostile to the United States and indeed their interests in the region was enough to justify the FLN’s forthcoming action, which led to a bloody civil war that lasted until 2002.

On 11 January 1992, the military stepped in, cancelling the electoral process and banning FIS as a party which was later completely dissolved by March. According to the Algerian authorities, 5,000 FIS members were arrested. However, French researcher Gilles Kepel put the number at 40,000 members, including then-leader Abdelkader Hachani. President Bendjedid was forced to resign and his successor, a former exiled independence fighter, Mohamed Boudiaf, was sworn in as president. His reign was short-lived by his assassination four months later.

Offshoot organisations of FIS, mainly the Islamic Armed Movement (MIA) and Armed Islamic Group (GIA), saw the military’s actions as a cause for war and a justification to take up arms against the state.

This war would last ten brutal years, with depraved levels of violence recorded towards the latter part by both the military and secret services and militant groups guilty of senseless violence and massacres.

Around 200,000 Algerians would perish in the war, 18,000 would disappear and one million forced to leave the country. The state of emergency would only be lifted in 2011 by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has held office since 1999, as a response to protests during the onset of the Arab Spring.

Benhadj and Madani were later released in 2003, and in 2005 Bouteflika offered a general amnesty to end legal proceedings against former fighters which was supported by 97% of the country in a national referendum. The Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation was implemented on September 2006, formally reconciling the warring parties and leading to the Algeria we see today.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170111-algeria-how-cancelling-elections-led-to-war/.

Algerian Parliament votes to amend pension draft bill

December 1, 2016

Members of the National People’s Congress (NPC) yesterday adopted a verbal amendment to the controversial retirement bill.

The amendment, introduced by the Minister of Labor, Employment and Social Security Mohamed El Ghazi, will provide a transitional period of two years granting the right to receive the pension benefit for a certain category of workers who have provided 32 years of service.

The minister did not explain the reasons for the draft’s extension but said that it was introduced due to “the instructions of the President of the Republic”.

However the minister reiterated that the pension reforms contained in the draft were completely necessary “to save the pension system” that is currently “programmed to bankruptcy”.

“The day the state will not pay pensions, we will not say that it is the fault of the unions, they will accuse the government,” he added.

The small concession by President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika is unlikely to ease the worries of Algerians and independent unionists. Ministers supporting the bill have also been criticized for not being open to dialogue with independent unions against autonomous trade unions not affected by the law.

Tensions across the industrial sector are increasing due to the government’s lack of ability to fairly relocate the economic crisis away from its citizens.

The anger fueled by the Finance Act has been marked by a rise in taxes, undermining the purchasing power of households, with the retirement bill further adding anguish to dwindling social dynamics.

With parliamentary elections to be held in the New Year, a deleterious social climate is not likely to encourage citizens to take to the polls.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20161201-algerian-parliament-votes-to-amend-pension-draft-bill/.

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