Algeria: Louisa Hanoune Has Been Freed!, The Fight Continues to Free All Political Prisoners!

Rally in Paris at Algerian Embassy on September 30, 2019, organized by the Democratic Independent Workers Party (POID). Banner reads: "Free Louisa Hanoune and all Prisoners of Conscience in Algeria!"

IN THIS DOSSIER:

(1) Louisa Hanoune Has Been Freed! —  reprinted from Issue No. 226‚ February 12, 2020 — of Tribune des Travailleurs, the weekly newspaper of the Democratic Independent Workers Party of France, POID

(2) Communiqué of the IWC Coordinators — 11 February 2020

(3) The Fight Continues to Free ALL Political Prisoners: “Unconditional Release of All Prisoners of Conscience!” — January 29, 2020

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(1) ALGERIA: Louisa Hanoune Has Been Freed!

(reprinted from Issue No. 226 ‚ February 12, 2020 — of Tribune des Travailleurs, the weekly newspaper of the Democratic Independent Workers Party of France, POID)

The Court of Appeals of the Blida Military Court dropped the charges for which it had sentenced Louisa Hanoune, general secretary of the Workers Party (PT) of Algeria, to 15 years in prison. It reclassified the sentence as three years’ imprisonment, nine months of which were to be served. The general secretary of the PT, who had served nine months in prison, was released late in the evening of 10 February, expressing her thanks to all those — lawyers, activists, journalists, political parties, trade unions — who took a stand for her release.

“Continuing the fight for the release of all prisoners of conscience”

IDuring a telephone call on the morning of 11 February, Abdelkader Bentaleb, an activist of the Organising Committee of Socialist Internationalists of Algeria (COSI), told us:

“The release of Louisa Hanoune, general secretary of the PT, is a victory for all the activists who, over the past year, have been fighting for the unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience. As we said from the day of her arrest on 9 May: ‘The COSI believes that the repressive measures taken against these activists, including the PT general secretary, must cease immediately because, from the standpoint of democracy, it is up to the people and to their elected and mandated delegates to the Sovereign Constituent Assembly, to decide among the various political options before them.’

“Our position has not changed, and we repeated it after Louisa Hanoune was sentenced to 15 years in prison by the military court on 25 September. We wrote at that time: ‘The PT leader is accountable only to her party and not to the military hierarchy, otherwise this would be tantamount to criminalizing political activity. … Without giving any political support to the general secretary of the PT and to the PT itself, the COSI demanded her unconditional release as soon as she was incarcerated. It reiterates its position of principle. It will continue to act with others, in unity, with this orientation. The fight must continue precisely to snatch the dozens of activists and anonymous citizens who continue to languish in prison.”

“In the tradition of the labor movement: freedom is not divisible.”

In France, on 9 May 2019, the Democratic Independent Workers Party of France (POID) made public the COSI communiqué, associating itself with their position. On 22 May, La Tribune des travailleurs (No 190) stated: “Having been informed of the POI’s call for the release of Louisa Hanoune, the six national secretaries of the POID sent their signature-endorsements to the POI on Tuesday 14 May at 10.11 a.m. [*]

On 2 June, Nambiath Vasudevan and Daniel Gluckstein, coordinators of the International Workers Committee Against War and Exploitation, for the Workers International (IWC), circulated worldwide the appeal issued by 51 labor and Black leaders and activists in the United States calling “for the release of Louisa Hanoune and all political prisoners in Algeria” (published 5 June 5 in the La Tribune des travailleurs).

On 20 June, POID activists took part in rallies called in front of Algerian consulates in Lille, Nantes, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Grenoble, and Metz. When Louisa Hanoune was sentenced to 15 years in prison, the POID organized a rally in Paris (see photo) on 30 September, gathering nearly 50 activists of all political tendencies. A delegation, which was received by diplomats from the embassy, explained that this “initiative is an effort of international labor solidarity. We have no intention of intervening in the internal affairs of the Algerian people and questioning their sovereignty. It is up to the Algerian people to decide their own destiny. We are here in the tradition of the workers’ movement, for which freedoms are not divisible — in the tradition of the French workers’ activists who supported the Algerian people in the struggle against French colonialism.”

The delegation gave the representatives of the Algerian embassy a file containing the signatures of political and trade union officials from 41 departments of France. The 29 January issue of La Tribune des travailleurs, reporting on Louisa Hanoune’s deteriorating state of health, reiterated its demand that Louisa Hanoune, like all prisoners of conscience, must be released.

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[*] We regret that these endorsements were deliberately ignored by the weekly newspaper Informations Ouvrières, which published a long list of endorsers. On 20 June, moreover, six POID activists were physically banned from participating in the rally for the release of Louisa Hanoune at the Algerian embassy in Paris.

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(2) Communiqué of the IWC Coordinators

(11 February 2020)

We have been informed that on the evening of 10 February, the Court of Appeals of the Military Court of Blida (Algeria) decided to release Louisa Hanoune, the general secretary of the Algerian Workers Party, who had been imprisoned since 9 May 2019 after spending nine months in prison.

Among many others in Algeria and throughout the world, the International Workers Committee Against War and Exploitation, For a Workers’ International (IWC) took a clear position since May 2019 to demand the immediate release from prison of the general secretary of the Workers Party.

In June 2019, the IWC circulated broadly an initiative of 51 labour activists of the United States “for the immediate release of Louisa Hanoune and all political prisoners in Algeria”.

The International Workers Committee Against War and Exploitation, For a Workers’ International, launched in Mumbai (India) in November 2016, reclaims the best traditions and principles of international workers’ solidarity: An injury to one is an injury to all.

Any activist of the labour movement who is a victim of state repression must defended by the entire labour movement.

The IWC calls upon all labour activists around the world to continue to express their solidarity with the Algerian people, and for the liberation of all political prisoners in Algeria.

Daniel Gluckstein,

Nambiath Vasudevan,

Coordinators of the International Workers Committee Against War and Exploitation, or a Workers’ International (IWC)

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(3) The Fight Continues to Free ALL Political Prisoners: Illegitimate Regime Wields Carrot and Stick

(reprinted from Tribune des Travailleurs / Workers Tribune, France — Issue No. 224, January 29, 2020)

In response to 11 months of massive mobilizations demanding that it get “get out of the way,” the Algerian regime is now wielding a carrot and a stick.

On the one hand, it is multiplying the calls for “dialogue” with opposition forces, while making demagogic promises — such as the announcement of the construction of a million homes in four years.

On the other hand, it is unleashing “targeted” repression against political activists. On Friday, January 17, the arrests began at 1 p.m. and continued into the evening. The arrests took place during the 48th consecutive week of weekly demonstrations demanding the ouster of the regime, with contingents, for example in Algiers, that included large numbers of dwellers from poor neighborhoods such as Bab El Oued or El Harrach.

In the afternoon of January 17, information transmitted by the families and friends of the victims of the arrests circulated on the social networks. “Slimane Khermous, the FFS [Front of Socialist Forces] mayor of Souk El Tenine, has just been arrested in Algiers,” was one such message. “Kamel Nemiche, an activist of the RAJ [Rassemblement Actions Jeunesse / Action Youth], has just informed his family that he is in police custody in a police station in Algiers,” was another. There were many more such messages.

The arrests of activist Djamel Oulmane and journalist Zoheir Aberkane were also reported. “The press and journalists are under much greater pressure than during the reign of Abdelaziz Bouteflika [former president of Algeria],” read one dispatch.

The defendants were brought before the courts the next day. The hearings were often a farce. A judge asked what one of the defendants was accused of, and he replied, “I’m here because I demonstrated in the streets.” The judge replied, “This means you didn’t break the law. …”

Nevertheless, while most of the defendants were released temporarily, they will be tried in February on the charge of “calling for an unarmed rebellion” — meaning they are still under a permanent threat of imprisonment. In Biskra, student Benalia Mohamed Amine was not so “lucky.” He was sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined 100,000 dinars for “attacking the head of state” for a simple message of criticism posted on his Facebook account.

This new wave of repression has “targeted” its victims selectively. It is aimed at all those in trade unions, political parties, associations and the media who have rejected the so-called “appeal for dialogue” by President Tebboune’s, who was placed in office by the military hierarchy. These targeted arrests are intended to “clear the deck” for the organizations that are in favor of a “dialogue” with the illegitimate authorities.

Forty days after the staging of the presidential election, nothing has been settled: Workers and people continue to fight, as in Jelfa, in the south, against the high cost of living, or in the capital city of Algiers over the issue of housing, while strikes are breaking out in many industries against the non-payment of wages.

As one journalist noted: “The [regime’s] objective is to create rifts in the Hirak [the mass mobilization] and divide it … . The masses in the streets have expressed clearly their rejection of the dialogue proposed by the regime. Nor do they want to hear anything about the constitutional changes to which (the regime) refers. Algerians want a new Constitution after a deep debate within society. A new Constitution that will enshrine all their rights. Only a new Constituent Assembly can draft a new Fundamental Law.” (DZ Vidéos, 19 January).

The immediate convening of the sovereign Constituent Assembly, through which the Algerian people will themselves define the form and content of democracy, remains the only possible prospect for putting an end to the regime.

— Correspondents in Algeria

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