Free Khaled Drareni!
Khaled Drareni was arrested on 27 March this year by the Algerian authorities. He is an Algerian journalist who is charged with "agitating for participation in a public gathering" and " acting against the integrity of the nation". The latter charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Drareni is the correspondent for TV5Monde in Algeria and represents Reporters without Frontiers (RSF) in his country. He was first detained on March 7 during a demonstration organised by Hirak, a movement which is working for the democratisation of Algeria. The movement was formed in February 2019 after President Buteflika announced he would be running for a fifth term. Hirak demonstrators in their thousands forced Bouteflika to resign on April 7 2019.
Drareni was released on 10 march 2020 but re-arrested two weeks later. At present he is held in prison. When I read this story about this brave journalist whose only crime is that he is honest and that he is fighting for freedom of speech and for a democratic Algeria I want him to know that he is not alone. I want him to know that he has friends in Poland and especially at the Gazeta Wyborcza which is a liberal and democratic newspaper which first appeared in 1989.
I have bad news for the authorities in Algeria . All tyrannies fall sooner or later. I write this on the basis of my own experience and the modern history of my country - Poland. The communists who ruled in Poland for several decades and who used force against the great movement called Solidarność and used censorship to throttle freedom of speech, in the end had to capitulate in the face of opposition from society and a moral and economic catastrophe. But they had enough common sense when, just as they stood on the cliff edge - to sit down with the opposition at a roundtable and without shedding any blood, handed power to the citizens.
Thus I appeal to the authorities in Algeria to free KHALED DRARENI immediately!
I appeal for the authorities to respect human rights and freedom of speech and assembly in Algeria.
I appeal for a political dialogue with the opposition and for the introduction of democratic reforms.
I wish for Algerians and Algeria to emerge from its political crisis and enter the path of democracy and prosperity.
Let us all show our Solidarity with Khaled Drareni!