After “a halt”, in the spring of 2020 due to Covid-19, was the Hirak “dead, also carried away by the pandemic?”, Wondered Tout sur l’Algerie (TSA) ahead of the events scheduled for Monday February 22 for the second anniversary of the uprising. Or could it “bounce back”, as Algeria Focus wrote?
For TSA, this day dedicated to the commemoration of the year II of the movement marked the return of street demonstrations. Tens of thousands of people, “at least”, took part in this march, which the news site describes as “success”. And this while it was taking place, against a background of the coronavirus still present, “a Monday, a working day” and it was raining, underlines a young protester interviewed for the purposes of the article. “These are not the millions of the first marches of February-March 2019, July 5 or November 1 of the same year, but it is certain that there are more people than during the trough of the movement during the summer 2019 ”, TSA assesses.
“As if time had frozen”
Across the country, protesters chanted the slogan “Silmiya… Silmiya“(Peace) to confirm their attachment to the peaceful nature of the march which took place in peace, reports The Mujahideen.
In Algiers, from noon, many demonstrators took to the Grande-Poste, an emblematic meeting place for Hirak, and Place Maurice-Audin, “draped with the national emblem, brandishing placards, banners and posters, to mark their determination to maintain the demands, by launching ululations, ”says the newspaper.
In the crowd, where some Amazigh (Berber) flags are also floating, TSA for its part saw “many young people and women, young children”. For the site, the scene “smacks of improvisation and spontaneity, like two years ago”, and has airs of déjà vu:
“The young people, in groups, sing well-known refrains. Slogans too. “We are not here to party, but to make you leave”, “Civil status and not military”, “Illegitimate Tebboune”, “Radical change”, “Independent justice” … All around, placid police officers and their machines of steel. As if time had frozen since last spring. There is indeed a remake, but of the scenario of February 22, 2019 and the 54 Fridays that followed. ” “The only false note”, TSA believes, many protesters do not have a mask to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
Several demonstrators arrested
Demonstrations also took place in other big cities such as Sidi Bel-Abbès, Tizi Ouzou, Sétif, Constantine or Béjaïa, relates The Moudajhid. According to the daily, “no major incident has been recorded” in the country, and “the heavily deployed police officers have shown control and professionalism”.
Algeria Focus qualifies this assessment somewhat. According to a statement from the National Committee for the Liberation of Detainees (CNLD), relayed by the site, the opponent Rachid Nekkaz, who had been released from prison three days earlier, was arrested in the afternoon in Mostaganem. And several protesters have been arrested in Algiers and others wilayas (prefectures) especially in Tiaret, Tébessa, Msila, and also in Oran, according to the CNLD.
In addition, Amnesty International denounced, in a statement released Monday on the occasion of the second anniversary of Hirak, the arbitrary arrests in Algeria. The NGO criticizes “a deliberate strategy by the Algerian authorities to crush dissent” over the past two years, despite the peaceful nature of the marches.
And now? “We get lost in the analyzes, the predictions, the proposals, but we agree on the essentials: Algiers has returned to major street demonstrations and the Hirak has never left the minds of the Algerians”, TSA notes.
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