Europe Must Take Action on Algeria

Europe Must Take Action on Algeria

The following paper was recently published, with the first signatures, in several newspapers from Europe : Le Soir (Brusells) 14th may, Le Monde (Paris) 21st may, El Pais (Madrid) 18 may, Die Frankfurter Rundschau (Frankfurt) 14 may, L’Unita (Roma). If you wish to support this initiative, whatever your nationality, we invite you to address a letter with the subject « European Call for Algeria, » and please note your name, profession, and nationality. E-mail to: [email protected]. In the message text, write « I support the call: « Europe Must Take Action on Algeria. »

Silence and prevarication have so far been the unacceptable response to the events in Algeria of both our governments in Europe as well as the European Union. Since 1992, no significant effort has been made by our representatives to contribute to ending the violence that has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Algerians. It is no longer acceptable to whitewash the Algerian Regime, nor to justify this criminal indifference by pretending that the conflict is too opaque to understand.

Over the last several years, numerous accounts, notably the recent book by an ex-officer of the special forces, leave no room for doubt: the real power and authority in Algeria is held by a few Generals who are principally responsible for the « dirty war ». It is they who coldly decided to engage in a war to eradicate all forms of opposition, shamelessly acting in a way that, according to statutes of the future International Criminal Court, constitute crimes against humanity: generalized torture, extra-judicial executions, disappearances, etc. They deliberately chose not to punish crimes committed by members of armed Islamist groups (numerous elements seem to indicate that, for more than a year, the « civil concord » was used as a smokescreen to recycle agents that had been infiltrated into the maquis as well as to liquidate certain « repentants » who refused to collaborate with the security forces).

As was the case in the October 1988 riots and on other occasions, the Regime again seems to have chosen to purposely inflame tensions in the street, hoping to distract outside scrutiny from the revelations of human rights abuses and seeking to resolve the Regime’s internal crisis caused by these same revelations. In a continuation of this pattern, these last weeks have seen the Gendarmes intensify their provocations in Kabylia. Riots by youths incensed by these actions were then savagely repressed, resulting in tens of deaths. In killing these unarmed youths, the Regime confirm their total contempt for the life of their citizens and show that they are willing to do anything to preserve their scandalous privileges and revenue derived from corruption.

Finally, the Regime has constructed a political system that allows them to count on the connivance of successive Presidents of Algeria, who have never either condemned or sanctioned the criminal and irresponsible use of the security forces.

Whilst it is necessary to express our solidarity with the families of the victims and with those Algerian democrats who want this blood-soaked dictatorship to end so that peace can at last return, it is no longer sufficient. We therefore petition our governments and the relevant authorities of the European Union to use all legal means at their disposal to ensure that Algeria adheres to international treaties regarding the respect of human rights. These treaties were not only signed on our behalf by our representatives, but were also signed by Algeria. We appeal to our officials to act according to the « Barcelona Declaration » which instituted a « Euro-Mediterranean Partnership » in November 1995. This is a declaration under which all State signatories committed to « respect human rights and fundamental freedoms and guarantee the effective legitimate exercise of such rights and freedoms, including freedom of expression, freedom of association for peaceful purposes and freedom of thought, conscience and religion… ».

Without precluding other initiatives, we ask our governments and the European Union:

– to make approval of the Association Agreement currently being negotiated between the Algeria and the European Union conditional upon the full respect for human rights, both in the text of the agreement as well as in its application. This would require the establishment of the rule of law by the Algerian State and its security forces. Violations committed by the security forces and the armed Islamic groups must be sanctioned according to international standards. This implies, in particular, that Algeria finally accepts investigations by United Nations special reporters into torture and disappearances.

– to implement immediately procedures of « universal jurisdiction » which allow the Member States of the Union to detain and judge in their jurisdictions Algerian military personnel found on their territory and suspected of being responsible for or accessory to serious human rights violations. In this context we condemn the attitude of the French government, which allowed the retired Major-General Khaled Nezzar to be « exfiltrated » from France on the 25th of April to escape legal action taken against him the same day in Paris by victims of torture. Further, we firmly condemn the fact that the identities of plaintiffs were immediately communicated – most probably by the French Police – to the Algerian Authorities. Despite, for obvious reasons of security, the court’s effort to protect their identity, their families in Algeria were put under pressure and intimidated.

– to seek the establishment of an ad hoc international penal court under the aegis of the United Nations that would judge the individuals responsible, whomever they may be, for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Algeria.

First Signatures:
– Germany: Daniel Cohn-Bendit (Member of European Parliament), Werner Ruf (Professor of Political Science at the University of Kassel), Heiko Kauffman (Press Spokesman of Pro Asyl).

– Belgium: Luc Carton (Philosopher), Herman de Ley (Historian of Philosophy, University of Gand), François Houtart (Lawyer, University of Louvain-la-Neuve), Jeanne Kervyn (Sociologist).

– Spain: Juan Goytisolo (Writer), Gema Martin-Muñoz (Professor at the Autonomous University of Madrid), José Maria Ridao (Writer and Diplomat).

– France: Étienne Balibar (Philosopher, University of Paris-10), Pierre Bourdieu (Professor at the Collège de France), François Burgat (Political Scientist, CNRS), Hélène Flautre (Member of European Parliament), Pierre Vidal-Naquet (Director of Studies at EHESS).

– Italy: Anna Bozzo (Historian University of Rome-3), Louis Godart (Accademia dei Lincei), Ferdinando Imposimato (Honorary Vice President of the Supreme Court), Igor Man (Editorial Writer at La Stampa), Predrag Matvejevic (Writer, President of the Scientific Board of the Mediterranean Laboratory Foundation).

– United Kingdom: William Byrd (Economist), George Joffé (Professor at the University of London), Claire Spencer (Political Scientist, University of London).

– Sweden: Åke Sander (Professor of Religious Studies, University of Göteborg).

– Switzerland: Marie-Claire Caloz-Tschopp (Philosopher, University of Geneva).

You can see the complete list of signatures (as at today) and the papers from algerian newspapers about this initiative in the bottom of the page


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