Algeria: Several Wounded in Crackdown on March of Retired Army Officers

New York - Algerian security forces violently suppressed a march of pensioners from the National People's Army (ANP), causing several wounded among the protesters, local media reported on Sunday, according to Huffington Post.

Thousands of former members of the Algerian army, including those recalled and disabled, were arrested in the town of Boumerdes, near Algiers. They were stopped by an impressive security device deployed to prevent the demonstrators from rallying in Algiers and  defying the ban on demonstrations in the capital, introduced since 2001.

Security forces used tear gas bombs and water cannons to disperse demonstrators from various wilayas in the country to expose their claims to the Ministry of Defense, according to the same sources.

The demonstrators demanded “an official recognition of the sacrifices they made during the black decade in the service of the fatherland.” They also protested in favor of medical care for mental damages suffered during the period of their incorporation into the ranks of the ANP, priority access to employment and housing, and regularization of their situation vis-à-vis social security.

Street Protests Are Banned

Street protests have been banned in the capital since June 14, 2001, when a march in favor of Kabylie turned into a riot, killing eight people and injuring hundreds.

In its Universal Periodic Review Submission on Algeria last October, non-governmental organization, Human Rights Watch (HRW), called on Algeria to “repeal the decision by the Head of Government in June 2001 prohibiting all demonstrations in Algiers, in accordance with the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations on the promotion and protection of the right to the freedom of opinion and expression following his visit to Algeria in 2001.”

The NGO considers these laws to “conflict with Algeria's human rights obligations under international law,” calling on the government to put an end to the unjustified restrictions on freedom of assembly.

Human Rights Watch accused Algeria of being the only country in North Africa to “systematically” blockade visits by human rights organizations.

In addition to the ban on demonstrations in the capital, Algeria continues to reject long-standing demands in the Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council regarding visits by the Special Rapporteurs on torture, the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, and extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions. As well, it continues to refuse to cooperate with the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.




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