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Anger over death of Algeria hunger-striking activist

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An imprisoned Algerian human rights activist, who had been on hunger strike for more than 50 days, has died.

Kamel Eddine Fekhar was arrested in March for “undermining state security” and put in pre-trial detention.

His lawyer, Salah Dabouz, said his client had endured great suffering and neglect behind bars and he would lodge a complaint against the authorities.

The 52-year-old was a doctor by profession and fought for the rights of Algeria’s minority Berber community.

He had lived in Ghardaia, 480km (300 miles) south of the capital, Algiers, where has been friction over land and violence between Arabs and Mozabites – members of the local Berber community.

In a post on Facebook, Mr Dabouz said his client had died in hospital on Tuesday in Blida where he had been taken after slipping into a coma.

He accused the local authorities of failing to assist someone in danger. There has been no official response to the activist’s death.

According to Le Monde, Dr Fekhar’s heath had been already weakened by long hunger strikes during a two-year detention after deadly clashes in Ghardaia in 2015.

His arrest in March followed an interview in which he criticised “segregationist” attitudes towards Mozabites in Ghardaia, the paper said.

Amnesty International called on the authorities to investigate his death and “immediately review their repressive policies and the shameful treatment of activists and protesters”.

The rights group added that the North African country must allow for freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate peacefully.

Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned as president last month after 20 years in power following weeks of massive street protests.

But the demonstrations have continued as protesters are unhappy that allies of Mr Bouteflika are organising the polls scheduled for 4 July.

On Tuesday protesters in Algiers carried placards in remembrance of Mr Fekhar. One such placard said he had been assassinated by “le pouvoir” – a term used to refer to the regime connected to Mr Bouteflika.

The Berbers were the original inhabitants of North Africa before the 7th Century Arab invasion, and account for about 30% of Algeria’s 41 million people.

 

Source: BBC

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