Algeria: Prison sentence against government critic

Persecution of the democracy movement in the shadow of the Corona crisis (Press Release)

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) has accused the government of Algeria of instrumentalizing the Corona crisis to silence the democracy movement Hirak. The human rights organization strongly criticized the ongoing arrests of members of the democracy movement – although they are hardly able to take part in public protests due to the Covid 19 measures. Thus, Amira Bouraoui, a prominent spokeswoman for Hirak, was arrested last Wednesday. Yesterday, the medical doctor was sentenced to one year in prison without parole for allegedly endangering state security, calling for demonstrations, and for allegedly slandering Islam with her critical social media posts.

"If members of Hirak are silenced in summary trials, Algeria is still farm from a credible democratic reform. After decades of political stagnation, the country is in desperate need of a democratic new beginning. Locking away prominent spokespersons of the democracy movement will not solve Algeria's problems," emphasized Ulrich Delius, the STP's Director, in Göttingen on Monday.

In 2014, the 44-year-old gynecologist had become one of the best-known spokespersons of the protest movement Barakat ("Enough is enough"). The movement had fought against a planned fourth term of office for the then President Bouteflika. Later, the Masir people in the Hirak movement joined a campaign to replace the seriously ill president. The Masir population is very well represented in the democracy movement.

Now, the STP sharply criticizes the government of Algeria under President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who has been in power since December 2019. "Instead of the announced reforms, there is even more repression under Tebboune than under his predecessor," Delius explained. Because of wrongful sentences like the one against Bouraoui, Algeria's younger generation is now all the more skeptical about the government's willingness to implement the overdue reforms. This only adds to the hopelessness among young people who see no future for themselves in Algeria as long as there is no hope for a democratic reform, economic improvement, or more jobs. "Europe should finally take this problematic development more seriously. The pressure of migration to Europe will increase if the situation in Algeria continues to deteriorate," Delius stated.