Algerian Hunger Striker Dies in Jail, Authorities Are Responsible!

The POID (Independent and Democratic Workers Party of France) is hereby forwarding this urgent message, which it has just received from Algeria:

On this 28th of May, at midday, we were saddened and angry to learn of the death in jail of Dr. Kameleddine Fekhar. An activist in defence of the democratic rights of the Mozabite population of the Algerian province of Ghardaïa and a member of the FFS (Socialist Forces Front), he had been arrested with his comrades on March 31st and then convicted and jailed for the so-called ‘crime’ of having publicly denounced discrimination against the Mozabites.

“He and his comrade Aouf Hadj Brahim had gone on a hunger strike that, at this writing, has lasted for 56 days. Despite his deteriorating state of health and the many protests demanding their release, the authorities allowed the situation to worsen. Even yesterday, his lawyer, Salah Debbouze, once again warned the authorities, saying that Dr. Fekhar’s life was in danger. He died several hours after having been transferred to the hospital.

“The authorities are entirely responsible for this tragedy.

“An independent inquiry must be opened immediately, under the supervision of the population, to determine the conditions in which Dr. Kameleddine Fekhar lost his life!

“Another tragedy would be intolerable: Aouf Hadj Brahim and his comrades must be released immediately!

“At the initiative of workers, young people, students, academics, journalists, artists and organisations committed to democratic, political and trade union freedoms, a meeting has been called for Thursday, 30 May in Algiers with the aim of setting up the Collective Against Repression and for the Immediate Release of Those Imprisoned for their Opinions.

“The creation of this collective will help act for the immediate release of Hadj Ghermoul and Hadj Brahim Aouf and his comrades, as well as for the release of Louisa Hanoune, and for lifting of all the repressive measures taken by academic authorities and at the public television stations, for putting an end to the harassment of the Aokas who are fighting for the preservation of the city’s forests.”

The POID, which for weeks has taken a position against the repression in Algeria, expresses its solidarity with the family, friends and comrades of Kameleddine Fekhar.

The POID supports the demands of the Algerian activists who have contacted us, and calls for all forms of campaigns targeting the Algerian authorities to be undertaken in France and internationally.

  • For the truth to be known concerning the conditions of the death and detention of Kameleddine Fekhar!
  • For the immediate release of Hadj Brahim Aouf, who is on hunger strike and whose life is in danger!
  • For the immediate release of Hadj Ghermoul!
  • For the immediate release of Louisa Hanoune!
  • For an end to the repression and to all the measures of intimidation and harassment!

— Montreuil, France, 28 May 2019, 6 pm

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Algerian Authorities Are Responsible for the Death of Hunger Striker Kameleddine Fekhar

(article reprinted from issue No. 191 — May 29, 2019 — of La Tribune des Travailleurs / Workers Tribune, the weekly publication of the Independent and Democratic Workers Party of France / POID)

On May 28, we received the terrible news of the death of Dr. Kameleddine Fekhar, an activist from Ghardaïa (Algeria). He was arrested on March 31 with his comrades. Immediately after his arrest, he and others began a hunger strike. As his situation deteriorated, he was transferred to a hospital, where he died. The day before, his lawyer, Mr. Salah Debbouze, sounded an alarm, crying out: “His life is in danger.” But the authorities remained deaf to the protests, which, for many weeks, had been demanding his release from prison.

Mr. Debbouze stated further: “In Algerian prisons, there is a record of punishing not only by limiting freedoms, but also by other sordid means invented by prison officials… . Dr. Fekhar was sentenced in relation to a video… in which he claimed that there was discriminatory treatment by the government against the population in his region. Following this statement, he was sent to prison.

This was a death planned by the Ghardaïa judicial authorities,” Mr. Debbouze continued. “Dr. Fekhar was taken into custody on bogus charges concocted by the Ghardaïa Attorney General under pressure from the public prosecutor.”

Dr. Fekhar was a member of the Socialist Forces Front (FFS) in the wilaya [region] of Ghardaïa. He was known as an activist defending the democratic rights of the Berber-speaking population (the Mozabites) of the Mzab Valley. The illegitimate military regime, which has been rejected for three months by millions of Algerians, is stepping up its acts of repression against Kameleddine Fekhar and his comrades; against Hadj Ghermoul, who was thrown in prison for holding up a “No to Bouteflika’s Fifth Term” sign back in January 2019; and against Louisa Hanoune, the General Secretary of the Workers Party, and many others. All must be freed immediately: democratic freedoms are indivisible.

La Tribune des Travailleurs expresses its solidarity with Dr. Fekhar’s family and comrades. It will continue to report on the struggle of activists of all tendencies in Algeria against repression and for the release of all the political prisoners. — D.F.

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“A Choice that We Regret”

La Tribune des travailleurs (Issues No. 189 of May 15, 2019 and No. 190 of May 22, 2019) published the POID’s statements denouncing the repression against Algerian militants, including Louisa Hanoune, General Secretary of the Algerian Workers Party (PT). The POID reported publicly that its six national secretaries had signed, on May 13, the POI’s appeal “for the release of Louisa Hanoune.” The POID thereby expressed its solidarity against the repression, which in no way is tantamount to support for the policies put forth by Louisa Hanoune and the Workers Party.

In its edition of May 15, and then in its edition of May 22, the POI’s newspaper, Informations ouvrières, published long lists of endorsers of their appeal but chose not to publish the endorsements of the national secretaries of the POID. This is a choice that we regret and that is not guided, quite obviously, by the goal of forging the broadest possible united front to free Louisa Hanoune.

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