Algeria: Another Hunger-Striking Human Rights Militant Evacuated from Prison to Hospital
Amazigh militant and human rights activist Kamal Eddine Fekhar was rushed from prison to a hospital in the city of Mina near the restive Algerian Amazigh-speaking city of Ghardaia after staging a hunger strike, local reporters said.
Kamal Eddine Fekhar started the hunger strike on January 3, 2017 in protest for his arbitrary detention on ground of his denunciation of atrocities by the Algerian regime and the sidelining of Algerian security forces with Arabs during the inter-ethnic clashes that devastated the ancient city of Ghardaia.
Kamal Eddine Fekhar, a doctor by profession, has been in prison for almost a year and a half pending trial on charges of “undermining state security and national unity”. His lawyer claims that his client has suffered torture in prison.
The hospitalization of Kamal Eddine Fekhar raised concerns among the human rights community who evoke cases of journalists and militants who have lost their lives after hunger strikes while in prison. The latest victim is journalist Mohamed Tamalt who was imprisoned for publishing a poem critical to Algeria’s ailing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Ghardaia is situated in the M’zab valley, a UNESCO world heritage site on the edge of the Sahara that has seen mounting tensions between the two communities.
There have been sporadic confrontations between the Amazigh Mozabite community and Arab tribes since December 2013 over property and land ownership after a local Mozabite shrine was vandalized.
Tensions between the Mozabite and Arab communities flare up periodically with at least 22 reported dead in violence that erupted in July 2015.
Besides linguistic and cultural differences, the Mozabites are Ibadit Muslims while their Arab neighbors follow Maliki Islam.