Socialist Worker

Veteran FLN liberation fighters join protests against Algerian regime

by Sheila Amrouche
Issue No. 2679

Huge protests have swept across Algeria in the last year

Huge protests have swept across Algeria in the last year (Pic: Twitter/@jadaliyya)


Huge democracy demonstrations in Algeria, north Africa, last week came on a particularly important date.

Friday 1 November marked 65 years since the Algerian war of independence began, following 132 years of French colonial occupation.

On that day the National Liberation Front (FLN) launched attacks throughout Algeria in the opening act of a war of independence.

This date lives on in the imagination of today’s marchers, who brandished images of famous fighters of the Algerian revolution.

They also demanded the release of all political detainees.

Last week was the 37th successive Friday of demonstrations. Hundreds of thousands poured onto the streets in Algiers and many other cities.

Mass protests broke out in February, forcing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to stand down.

They have continued every week under the slogan, “Down with the regime.”

On Sunday the union representing Sonelgaz workers called for a three-day strike this week “to support the people in their demands”.

Sonelgaz is the state-owned utility in charge of electricity and natural gas distribution.

Algeria’s fights for freedom
Algeria’s fights for freedom
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The union said, “The departure of Bouteflika had given the group’s workers hope for change.

“But not only has nothing changed, our social situation continues to deteriorate.”

Friday’s demonstrations saw the presence of the flag of the Berber minority, a first since it was banned in June. Iconic figures of the FLN such as Djamila Bouhired and Zora Drif, are participating in the hirak, or protest movement.

During the war of independence, they were two of the three FLN female bombers depicted in the 1966 film The Battle of Algiers.

Bouhired said that if the elders liberated Algeria from colonial rule, today’s young people are “giving back to Algerians the freedoms and pride robbed from them since independence”.

On 30 June a prominent veteran of that war, 86 year old Lakhdar Bouregaa, was arrested. He is under investigation for “weakening the morale of the army during peacetime”.

Bouregaa refused to answer questions in court on 22 October.

“He did not want to answer, saying to the judge that he does not recognise the system of power,” said his lawyer Abdelghani Badi. “He added that he does not want to betray the hirak.”

For solidarity with Algerian prisoners go to menasolidaritynetwork.com/algeriasolidarity

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