23 imprisoned protesters in Algeria go on hunger strike

Twenty-three people detained after taking part in a protest march in the Algerian capital last week have gone on hunger strike, a prisoners’ support group said Saturday.

The CNLD said they launched their action on Wednesday in El Harrach jail, after being detained on charges of “damage to national unity” and holding an “unarmed gathering,” or protest.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune earlier this week warned pro-democracy “Hirak” activists against “non-innocent activities” that “attempt to hinder the democratic process.”

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 kept up demonstrations, demanding a sweeping overhaul of the ruling system.

Since the movement’s second anniversary on February 22, thousands have defied 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.

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