Riots erupted in the evening of Sunday, February 28 in several neighborhoods of Ouargla, in southern Algeria, after a militant of the popular protest movement in Algeria was sentenced to a heavy prison term and accused of “apology for terrorism”.
Protesters blocked several roads and burned tires after the local criminal court sentenced Ameur Guerrache to seven years in prison. Young people threw stones at police officers in the midst of tear gas.
In another video also broadcast on social media, Ameur Guerrache’s mother implored Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune to release her son.
Arrested at his home on July 1, 2020, Ameur Guerrache, 31 years old, presented as a militant and poet, is “one of the greatest leaders of the (protest) movement in Mekhadma for several years,” said the CNLD, a prisoner advocacy organization. The Mekhadma movement takes its name from a deprived neighborhood in the city of Ouargla, where last June hundreds of people had protested against their living conditions and their marginalization and exclusion from local development. Ouargla is the capital of a wilaya (prefecture) rich in hydrocarbons, where many deposits are located, including that of Hassi Messaoud. But it is also a city with a high youth unemployment rate.
The Algerian Ministry of Justice recently announced that a total of 59 prisoners of conscience had been released following the announcement of a pardon granted by President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on February 18. At the same time, however, convictions continue at a steady pace in the courts.