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Algeria arrests three more 'Hirak' activists

On Saturday, three other activists were ordered to be held in pre-trial detention and are slated for trial on 17 June
Algerians march in anti-government demonstration in February in city of Bordj Bou Arreridj, about 240km east of capital Algiers (AFP/File photo)

Algerian authorities on Sunday arrested three activists from the "Hirak" protest movement, a human rights group said, in the second day of arrests targeting members of the group.

Hakik Addad, Zoheir Keddam and Fodil Boumala, who had been arrested in the past, were seized separately by the police, said Said Salhi, vice president of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LADDH).

Three Algerian activists detained over Hirak demonstration
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The reason for their arrest on Sunday was unknown, according to AFP.

Addad is a human rights activist, while Boumala is a journalist and Keddam belongs to the Silmiya group - peaceful activists who tried to prevent clashes between protesters and police during months of anti-government demonstrations.

Weekly anti-government protests rocked Algeria for more than a year and only stopped in March amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, with the authorities banning marches - although the opposition had already suspended its regular gatherings.

While the streets have been quiet, that may not last, according to The Economist, which noted that the provinces are stirring.

In Bejaia, a city in the Berber heartland about 200km east of Algiers, business owners have protested against the lockdown and activists have blocked police from arresting their friends. In nearby Kherrata, which was the first town to rise against French colonial rule, demonstrators chanted anti-government slogans during Eid al-Fitr celebrations last month, the magazine said.

In Bejaia on Saturday, three other Hirak activists were ordered to be held in pre-trial detention, according to the prisoners' defence group CNLD.

They are to go on trial on 17 June for incitement, "publication that could damage the national interest" and "endangering the lives of others during the confinement period" against the novel coronavirus, CNLD spokesman Kaci Tansaout said.

Protests are expected to resume soon in Algiers, too. “It’s going to be a hot summer,” a businessman in the capital told The Economist.

According to the CNLD, about 60 people are currently detained on charges linked to the protest movement, most of them over posts on Facebook.

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