In Algeria, the spokesperson for an opposition party sentenced to two years in prison

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Officials of the Democratic and Social Movement (MDS), the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH) and the Socialist Workers' Party (PST) at a press conference in Algiers, in July 2021.

To the judge who questioned him about his will to “Change the diet”, he retorted that“In a democracy, the political struggle takes place in the public space and it is the people who decide”. “I am the coordinator of a political party, he added. This quality, I keep it even in my cell. “

Tried on December 26, 2021, Fethi Ghares, member of the Democratic and Social Movement (MDS), a secular leftist formation which was engaged in 2019 in the Hirak anti-regime protests, was sentenced to two years in prison, Sunday 9 January. This verdict pronounced against the head of a legal party approved by the authorities marks a new escalation in the repression in Algeria, worry opponents and lawyers.

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The MDS spokesperson was arrested on June 30. Placed in detention, he was prosecuted for “attacking the person of the President of the Republic”, “contempt of body”, “dissemination to the public of publications that could harm the national interest”, “dissemination of information that could harm attack on national unity ”and“ dissemination of information that could undermine public order ”. Charges based on the publications of Mr. Gheras on the social network Facebook and private exchanges extracted from his phone. The prosecutor had requested three years in prison, without bothering to plead.

The “sultan” and the “pyromaniac”

“Fethi Ghares contradicted the sultan”, noted one of his defenders during the hearing on December 26, recalling the opponent’s support for a journalist that President Abdelmadjid Tebboune had publicly described as “Arsonist”. Detained for six months, Rabah Karèche, from the daily Freedom, had been charged after reporting on a protest movement in southern Algeria.

“By targeting Fethi Ghares, the government also seeks to prohibit any possibility of articulating political and social struggles”, estimates Yacine Teguia, member of the management of the MDS. ” He is not the only one. Other activists were heavily condemned, I am thinking in particular of the president of the SOS Bab el-Oued association, Nacer Meghnine ”, he adds, referring to the fate of the organizer of a cultural organization created in the 1990s and very active in this working-class district in the west of Algiers: in September, Nacer Meghnine was sentenced to eight months in prison for, among other charges, his “participation in crimes which undermine the national interest and national unity”.

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“The MDS has suffered repression for years. The behavior of the current power is in the direct line of the time of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, when the arrests and the legal proceedings targeting us were numerous and that activists of our movement knew the prison, recalls Mr. Teguia. These judicial persecutions were already manifested by the prohibition of our political activities. The current situation reveals a new calculation of power: the will to attack one of the currents that have emerged from the Hirak. “

Parties threatened with dissolution

Other opposition parties are thus threatened by the authorities. They share with the MDS support for prisoners of conscience and their membership of the Pact for Democratic Alternation (PAD), a grouping of organizations from the Democratic camp which was created in June 2019 with the ambition of building a political alternative. . “Fethi Ghares plays a prominent role in it. Today, it is the regrouping of progressive forces that is targeted ”, continues Mr. Teguia.

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In the sights of the authorities in particular, the Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD), put on notice by the Ministry of the Interior to no longer open its premises to the associative movement. The RCD is one of the first opposition parties created in the aftermath of the political opening which followed the riots of October 1988. It risks dissolution, as does the Union for Change and Progress (UCP) and the Socialist Workers’ Party (PST), also members of the PAD.

More than 200 people are currently behind bars in Algeria for facts related to Hirak, according to the National Committee for the Liberation of Detainees (CNLD).

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In Algeria, the spokesperson for an opposition party sentenced to two years in prison

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