Algerian authorities released prominent Hirak movement activist Karim Tabbouon Thursday, April 29. Tabbou was reportedly arrested late on Wednesday night in connection with a complaint filed against him by Bouzid Lazhari, president of the National Council for Human Rights (CNDH), a government body. 47-year-old Tabbou, who leads the unregistered Democratic Social Union party, was subsequently ordered to appear before a prosecutor on Thursday, his lawyer stated on social media.
In a statement to the media just before going into detention, Tabbou said, “Algeria’s youth is determined to fight for their right to a dignified life.” Tabbou has earlier been arrested and sentenced to a one-year suspended sentence in 2020 for undermining “state security.” He has now been accused of heckling the CNDH president in public at a funeral, and charged on eight counts including ‘slander’.
According to Algerian prisoners’ rights group National Commission for the Liberation of Detainees (CNLD), following his arrest Tabbou was released by a court in Algiers and ordered to stay under judicial supervision as a condition of his release.
Tabbou has opposed the June 12 legislative elections scheduled in Algeria. Following his release, he said that his party was now “the largest political party” in Algeria despite it not being registered by the authorities. He said that the “election does not concern us, the regime mobilized colossal resources to hold a false presidential election, a false referendum – and now it organizes false legislative elections.” With this, he reaffirmed the position of the Hirak movement regarding the conduct of the elections by the government of president Abdelmadjid Tebboune without implementing any of the political, social and economic reforms that are being demanded.
Activists and rights groups have denounced the escalating campaign of arrests and other forms of repression against Hirak leaders and supporters that the government has resumed in the last few months. Several Algerians associated with the Hirak protests have been arrested and slapped with politically motivated and baseless charges. Echoing the sentiments of millions of Hirak movement protesters, Tabbou said, “we see the country as a barracks.”