North Africa: People Power
(Part 2 of IntLawGrrl Karima Bennoune's series on developments in North Africa; Part 1 appeared 1st at IntLawGrrls, here.) Today the Algerian government tried to hold back the winds of change blowing westward from neighboring Tunisia by besieging its own capital city. A peaceful protest called by the Algerian opposition party, the Rassemblement pour la culture et la démocratie (RCD), on the Place du 1er Mai was forcefully disrupted by large numbers of heavily armed riot police. One report claimed that 10,000 police had been deployed. Meanwhile, as many as 42 people were injured, several seriously, and others arrested, including a photojournalist.
Today’s protest had been organized around very specific demands, set forth in the poster below right:
Peaceful protests like these are crucial because real change is needed and demanded by so many Algerians:
What happens next depends in part on how many Algerians defy the ban on peaceful protests in Algiers and attend the February 9 demonstration, and on how the authorities respond. The best ways to honor the memory of so many who sacrificed for the country, whether during the 1950s/1960s battle against colonialism, or the 1990s battle against fundamentalism, would be to allow the next “unauthorized” peaceful march to proceed without the repression witnessed today, and to permit such gatherings to be the start of a new social democratic opening in Algeria that creates a better future for all its people.
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