Close to 800 Hirak protesters were detained for questioning on Friday, May 21 as Algerian authorities unleashed yet another crackdown during the 118th week of agitations. Reports indicated the deployment of a large number of police personnel in the capital, Algiers, to prevent the organizing of the massive popular demonstrations against the government. The police also installed barriers on main roads which are the popular protest routes and even closed off side streets in Algiers to prevent the marches from growing bigger. The Hirak protests began in 2019 and have sought radical political and economic reforms.
According to the head of the Algerian League of Human Rights (LADDH), Said Salhi, the authorities tried to prevent the demonstrations from taking place in the cities of Algiers and Annaba, and the police action led to confrontations and arrests in Bouira and several other provinces. He added that the authorities failed to prevent the protests from taking place in Bejaia and Tizi Ouzou. Of the 800 protesters who were detained in the capital and a number of other regions, most were released although approximately 40 were kept in police custody to be presented in court on Sunday. Two journalists were also detained for a short period of time before being let go. Last week on Friday, the authorities had arrested 900 protesters.
The website ‘Algerian Detainees’ says that at least 133 people are currently being jailed by Algerian authorities in connection with the Hirak movement or other cases involving the government trying to limit or silence the freedom of speech and expression. The government had also recently issued an order which banned any protests which had not received permission, an action that was condemned by Hirak leaders and supporters as a direct assault on opposition and criticism against the government in the country. The Hirak movement has already announced its opposition of the upcoming June 12 national elections, rejecting them as nothing but a charade to continue the status quo in the country.