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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Algerian rights groups voice alarm over health of detainees on hunger strike

The detainees launched a hunger strike last week [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 April, 2021

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Rights group in Algeria have voiced concern over dozens of detainees that are currently on hunger strike.
Eight Algerian human rights groups warned on Thursday that 23 detained people on hunger strike could die, and called for their immediate release.

"Don't let them die... Some of them have begun facing serious health complications. Let us act before it is too late," the non-governmental organisations said in a joint statement posted on social media.

"We hold the Algerian authorities responsible for any dramatic development," concerning the detainees, who were arrested earlier this month after taking part in a pro-democracy march, the statement said.

The signatories, including the Algerian League for Human Rights (LADDH), demanded the suspects be "released immediately and unconditionally".

Algeria's CNLD prisoners' support group said the 23 detainees began a hunger strike on April 7 in El Harrach jail after being detained on charges of "damaging national unity".

They were also charged with holding an "unarmed gathering", or protest, for taking part in a pro-democracy march organised by the "Hirak" movement.

The Hirak protest movement was sparked in February 2019 over then-president Abdelaziz Bouteflika's bid for a fifth term in office.

The ailing strongman was forced to step down weeks later, but the Hirak continued with demonstrations, demanding a sweeping overhaul of a ruling system in place since Algeria's independence from France in 1962.

Read also: Two Algerian activists on hunger strike over 'abusive' detention

Since the movement's second anniversary on February 22, thousands have continued to defy a ban on gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic and taken to the streets for weekly protests, which were suspended for almost a year due to the health crisis.

Authorities say the Hirak movement is being infiltrated by Islamist activists who are trying to drag it towards violence.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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