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Condemnations and Call for Investigation after Death of Prominent Human Rights Activist K.E. Fekhar during his Arbitrary Detention

April 28th 2019

EuroMed Rights, Front Line Defenders, the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH), the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH), SOS Disparus - CFDA (Collective of Families of Disappeared in Algeria ), the National Autonomous Union of Public Administration Staff (SNAPAP) and the Youth Action Rally (RAJ) strongly condemn the ill-treatment inflicted on Kamal Eddine Fekhar during his arbitrary detention, which led to his death on May 28, 2019, at Frantz Fanon Hospital in Blida. With sorrow and sadness, our organizations offer their sincere condolences to Fekhar's family, as Kamal' case is a fact of extreme gravity that represents the repression of the freedom of expression, the instrumentalization of justice, and contempt for human life.

A political activist and former LADDH member, K.E. Fekhar was arrested on March 31, 2019, the same day as trade union activist Hadj Ibrahim Ouf. Following the publication of a video interview in which he denounced the segregationist treatment against the Mozabites (minority of Berber origin) of the Wilaya of Ghardaia, he was detained on remand for "provoking hatred "and "disturbing public order". His health deteriorated sharply following the hunger strike he had started for more than 40 days. His group of lawyers denounced degrading conditions of detention and a refusal to provide him the adequate care while his life was in danger.

In 2017, Kamal Eddine Fekhar, who was working on the rights of Mozabite citizens in Algeria, had already been subjected to judicial harassment, with 18 charges relating to his human rights activities. He had then started several hunger strikes in protest against his arbitrary detention. The Algerian authorities exclusively targeted the defenders of ethnic, religious and gender minority rights.

"The tragic death of Kamal Eddine Fekhar recalls that of the journalist Mohamed Tamalt" case, who was arrested on 27 June 2016 and sentenced to two years in prison. His hunger strike badly affected his health and led to his death in prison in December 2016.

The signatory organizations demand the attaining of investigation, announced by the Algerian Judicial authorities, in an independent, thorough and transparent way to clarify the circumstances of the death of K.E.Fekhar and to examine the record of his incarceration. They also call on the EU and its member states to raise their concerns with the Algerian authorities and to confirm the request for an impartial and transparent investigation.

On the fifteenth consecutive Friday of popular protest in Algeria, protesters, marching in several cities of the country, rejected the offer of dialogue, made this week by the Chief of Staff of the Army, General Ahmed Gaïd Salah. They also paid tribute to K.E.Fekhar. The following day, Saturday, June 1, hundreds of people, chanting the slogan "power assassin", attended his burial in Mozabite Square, in El Alia Cemetery, in Algiers.