Back to top

Intimidation & harassment of human rights defender Hadj Ibrahim Aouf amid uprising

Status: 
Hospitalised
About the situation

On 28 April 2019, human rights defenders Kamal Eddine Fekhar and Hadj Ibrahim Aouf, who have been detained since 31 March 2019, were taken to hospital. Their health has severely deteriorated as a result of their ongoing open-ended hunger strike as well as medical negligence in the prison of Ghardaia.

26 April 2019 marks the 27th day of the open-ended hunger strike of human rights defenders Kamal Eddine Fekhar and Hadj Ibrahim Aouf.

Kamal Eddine Fekhar, Mozabite minority rights defender, founder of Tifawt and member of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights, was arrested near his workplace along with his two minor children on 31 March 2019. On the same day, trade unionist and minority rights defender Hadj Ibrahim Aouf was also arrested. The human rights defenders were detained for attacking public institutions, namely the military, Parliament and judiciary, based on a complaint made by the general prosecutor of the city of Ghardaia. They declared an open-ended hunger strike to protest against their arbitrary arrest. The health of Hadj Ibrahim Aouf is rapidly deteriorating, as he is entering the 27th day of hunger strike.

About the HRDs

Kamal Eddine Fekhar is the founder of *Tifawt*, a foundation that works to protect and promote the human rights of the Amazigh people. He previously was a member of the /Ligue Algérienne pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme – LADDH/ (Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights). Hadj Ibrahim Aouf is a trade unionist and Mozabite minority rights defender. Abdou Semmar is a journalist and human rights defender actively working on exposing corruption and abuse of power in Algeria through the Paris based media outlet Algeria Part. Salah Dabouz is a lawyer and President of Ligue Algérienne pour la Defense des Droits de l'Homme (LADDH), one of Algeria's most prominent human rights NGOs. Meziane Abane is a journalist at Al Watan newspaper and a human rights defender advocating for the rights of the Amazigh people in Algeria.Abdullah Benaoum is a human rights defender and social media activist, currently serving a one-year prison sentence in solitary confinement for politically motivated charges related to his human rights activism in Algeria. 26 April 2019 marks the 47th day of his hunger strike, which he has started to denounce the inhumane conditions of his detention. The human rights defender’s health has been rapidly deteriorating due to the length of his hunger strike and prior health issues.

10 May 2019
Kamal Eddine Fekhar and Hadj Ibrahim Aouf hospitalised

On 28 April 2019, human rights defenders Kamal Eddine Fekhar and Hadj Ibrahim Aouf, who have been detained since 31 March 2019, were taken to hospital. Their health has severely deteriorated as a result of their ongoing open-ended hunger strike as well as medical negligence in the prison of Ghardaia.

29 April 2019
Intimidation & harassment of human rights defender Hadj Ibrahim Aouf amid uprising

26 April 2019 marks the 27th day of the open-ended hunger strike of human rights defenders Kamal Eddine Fekhar and Hadj Ibrahim Aouf.

Kamal Eddine Fekhar, Mozabite minority rights defender, founder of Tifawt and member of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights, was arrested near his workplace along with his two minor children on 31 March 2019. On the same day, trade unionist and minority rights defender Hadj Ibrahim Aouf was also arrested. The human rights defenders were detained for attacking public institutions, namely the military, Parliament and judiciary, based on a complaint made by the general prosecutor of the city of Ghardaia. They declared an open-ended hunger strike to protest against their arbitrary arrest. The health of Hadj Ibrahim Aouf is rapidly deteriorating, as he is entering the 27th day of hunger strike.

Download the Urgent Appeal

The arrest of the human rights defenders forms part of a pattern of ongoing retaliation against human rights defenders, journalists, student activists, trade unionists and lawyers, which has intensified since the start of massive protests in the country.

On 17 April 2019, armed agents from the Research and Intervention Brigade (BRI), wearing plain clothes, broke into the Said Hamdine Faculty of Law in Algiers to pursue and arrest student activists who were gathering there.

On 13 April 2019, police stopped several activists as they attempted to join a sit-in planned for 5:00 pm in front of the main post office in Algiers. They were arrested and taken to Baraki’s police station. A journalist and three women activists from the association Rassemblement Action Jeunesse (RAJ) were forced to strip naked. One of the RAJ activists said that at 9:00 pm, they were taken to a room where a woman in plain clothes, who claimed to be a police officer, said she would conduct a body search and ordered the women to strip naked. As stated by one of the activists, they were threatened that they would not be released unless they got completely naked. Upon their release on 14 April 2019 at 1:00 am, the women activists reported ill-treatment by the police officers.

Abdou Semmar, a journalist actively working on exposing corruption in Algeria, currently exiled in France, received threats on several occasions and on 10 April 2019, his wife’s car was burnt to the ground in front of her workplace in Oued Romen, Algiers. The human rights defender reports on corruption and abuse of powAbdou Semmarer in Algeria through the Paris based media outlet Algeria Part.

On 8 April 2019, Salah Dabouz, a lawyer, human rights defender and former President of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LADDH), was arrested by security forces during a meeting in a restaurant in the capital. The human rights defender was taken to the city of Ghardaia where he was questioned about his posts on Facebook criticising the judiciary. He was released the next day but kept under “administrative observation”. As part of this procedure, he has to appear at the police station in Ghardaia every Wednesday and Sunday. The city is located around 600 km from Algiers, where the human rights defender lives and works. This procedure is a clear attempt to stop Salah Dabouz from participating in the protests in the capital.

On 7 April 2019, Meziane Abane, a journalist at Al Watan newspaper and human rights defender advocating for the rights of the Amazigh people in Algeria, was arrested while he was covering the protests. He saw members of the security forces chasing protesters and arresting those who resisted. When police officers ordered the human rights defender to leave, he refused, saying he was a journalist doing his job. They arrested him along with eight protesters and took them to the Rue Asslah Hocine police station, where they were held for hours.

Abdullah Benaoum is a human rights defender and social media activist, currently serving a one-year prison sentence in solitary confinement for politically motivated charges related to his human rights activism in Algeria. 26 April 2019 marks the 47th day of his hunger strike, which he has started to denounce the inhumane conditions of his detention. The human rights defender’s health has been rapidly deteriorating due to the length of his hunger strike and prior health issues.

22 April 2019 marked two months since peaceful demonstrations erupted in Algerian cities on 22 February 2019 to prevent President Abdelaziz Bouteflika from seeking a 5th mandate after holding power for nearly 20 years. Up until 2011, Algeria was under a state of emergency with an increasingly shrinking space for civil society and massive targeting of human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, bloggers and human rights organisations.

As a result of public pressure, President Bouteflika announced that he would not be running for office again. Yet millions of Algerians called for him to step down immediately due to his clear physical incapacity to serve as president, as he had hardly appeared in public or addressed the nation in the last 5 years. The protesters’ demands for transparency and the peaceful transfer of power were only partially met. In an open letter to the Algerian people, President Bouteflika declared that he would resign on 2 April 2019, before the end of his mandate set for 28 April 2019.

On 9 April 2019, the Parliament appointed the President of the Nation Council (upper house of the Parliament) Abdel Kader Ben Salah as interim president for 90 days. According to Article 102 of the Constitution, during this period, he should convene presidential elections.

Meanwhile, peaceful protests continued to grow in Algeria, opposing the constitutional solution suggested by the government and calling for a peaceful transition and accountability for all the crimes committed by the allies of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, including the military.

The change of the head of state was accompanied by some positive changes, as several businessmen and state officials known to have engaged in corruption were arrested or summoned for interrogation by the judicial police. Yet, despite the government’s promises of a peaceful, democratic transition, the human rights situation in the country remains unstable. Security forces, initially neutral towards the popular uprising, have started to act more violently in order to repress the social movement, and several incidents of excessive use of force have been reported.

During the first week of protests, on 23 February 2019, the Directorate General of National Security (DGSN) declared the arrest of 41 people on charges of disruption of public order, acts of vandalism, violence and assault.

Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the ongoing wave of arbitrary arrests and repression by the Algerian authorities targeting human rights defenders, journalists, student activists, trade unionists and lawyers.