Dozens of Algerian students defied police Tuesday to demonstrate in the capital Algiers, a day after major protests for the second anniversary of mass anti-government rallies.
The 2019 “Hirak” protest movement forced longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika from power, and before the protests were stalled amid Covid-19 restrictions last year, marches were held every Tuesday.
A mass rally in Algiers was held on Monday to mark the protests that kicked off on February 22, 2019, to oppose Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term.
The protests on Monday were the largest since the weekly demonstrations were suspended.
On Tuesday, students continued, despite police deploying in force before dawn in the centre of Algiers, especially at Martyrs’ Square, where student marches used to begin.
Several dozen students and activists managed to walk a short distance shouting slogans before police stopped the march.
“We are students and not terrorists,” some chanted, according to AFP journalists. “A free and democratic Algeria,” others shouted.
The CNLD prisoners’ rights group said police had arrested at least 18 people, but some of them were subsequently released.
Among those freed was student leader Abdenour Ait Said, his family said.
He was arrested by plain-clothed officers and questioned after having given an interview to opposition broadcaster Radio M, said the CNLD.
Protesters demand a sweeping overhaul of a ruling system in place since Algeria’s independence from France in 1962.