Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Algerian Opposition Activist Arrested by Authorities


Karim Tabbou, a well-known member of the Algerian Hirak movement and political activist, has been taken into custody by plainclothes police officers from his home for unknown reasons. Tabbou’s brother, Djaffar, posted about the arrest on Facebook, citing lawyer Toufik Belala. The activist has not been informed of when he will appear before prosecutors or the charges he may face. Tabbou leads the Democratic and Social Union (UDS), a small unregistered opposition party, in addition to being a prominent member of the Hirak movement.

Tabbou has been arrested multiple times since 2019 for his activism, with his most notable arrest occurring in September 2019. He was charged with “inciting violence” and “undermining the integrity of the national territory” for criticizing the government and calling for a peaceful transition to democracy. This was seen by many as an attempt to silence dissent and suppress the Hirak movement, leading to international outcry and calls for his release. After being held in pretrial detention for several months, he was sentenced to a one-year prison term in March 2020 for “undermining state security”. In July 2020, his sentence was reduced to a six-month suspended term, and he was released from prison.

Tabbou was arrested again in April 2021 after a complaint was filed against him by Bouzid Lazhari, president of the National Council for Human Rights. He was charged with eight counts, including “slander”, after allegedly heckling Lazhari in public during a funeral. He was released on probation after his arrest. In April 2022, he was detained for 24 hours for unknown reasons.

The Hirak movement emerged in Algeria in February 2019 in response to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s announcement of his intention to seek a fifth term in office. The movement demanded political and economic reforms, as well as the removal of longstanding political elites. The protests were largely peaceful, with millions of people taking to the streets across Algeria’s major cities. The Hirak was successful in achieving its primary objective, as Bouteflika resigned in April 2019. However, the movement continued to demand changes, calling for the dismantling of the ruling elite and the establishment of a democratic and transparent government.

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