Arrests in Algeria ahead of weekly protests

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Algerian demonstrators, draped in national flags, stand in front of security forces during an anti-government demonstration in the capital Algiers on May 24, 2019. (AFP)
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An Algerian demonstrator gestures in front of security forces during an anti-government demonstration in the capital Algiers on May 24, 2019. (AFP)
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Algerian protesters shout slogans during an anti-government demonstration in the capital Algiers on May 24, 2019. (AFP)
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Algerian protesters take part in an anti-government demonstration in the capital Algiers on May 24, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 24 May 2019
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Arrests in Algeria ahead of weekly protests

  • Several hundred protesters gathered near the Grand Post Office on Friday, but they were kept at bay by a police cordon and a row of vehicles
  • Local news site TSA reported police in Algiers made “massive arrests among the protesters”

ALGIERS: Algerian police arrested dozens of people on Friday at the Grand Post Office, a key rallying point for protesters in the capital Algiers, witnesses and journalists said.
An AFP journalist saw a woman arrested near the post office, where security fences were erected this week in an attempt to prevent demonstrators accessing the site.
Several hundred protesters gathered near the building on Friday, but they were kept at bay by a police cordon and a row of vehicles.
“Patrols criss-crossed the city and arrested anyone suspected of joining the rally,” Said Salhi, vice president of the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights, said on Twitter.
“It seems they (the authorities) want to ban the rally,” he added.
The protest movement forced president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down on April 2, after two decades in power.
But rallies — now into a fourteenth week — have continued each Friday, to pressure army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah, interim President Abdelkader Bensalah and others to leave office.
“Tired of the generals!,” “Gaid Salah resign!,” protesters chanted Friday.
Mehenna Abdeslam, a protester and a university teacher, told AFP he witnessed “the police systematically arrest anyone carrying a banner.”
But “we will not stop” demonstrating, he added.
Local news site TSA reported police in Algiers made “massive arrests among the protesters.”
It also noted a heavy presence of female police officers, for the first time since the protests began.
A presidential election that was originally due to take place in April is scheduled for July 4, but the protest movement wants the poll scrapped, in the absence of new independent institutions to oversee voting.


Watery grave for ancient Turkish town of Hasankeyf

This photo taken on August 17, 2019 shows the village of Celik which was deserted and invaded by water, in Dargecit, southeast Turkey. (AFP)
Updated 2 min 58 sec ago

Watery grave for ancient Turkish town of Hasankeyf

  • A new Hasankeyf has been built nearby, with some of the old town’s monuments relocated there and brand-new homes for its 3,000 inhabitants

HASANKEYF, TURKEY: In a graveyard beside the doomed town of Hasankeyf, workers are exhuming bodies, carrying them to a new resting place away from the waters that will soon submerge this ancient site.
Here on the banks of the Tigris in southeastern Turkey, the residents of Hasankeyf, a town with 12,000 years of history, are waiting for the waters to come.
A new dam upstream is already operational. In the next few months, the town and nearly 200 villages in this valley will be gone.
Fatih, who did not give his full name, watches as workers carry away the bones of his brother, killed in an accident more than 20 years ago. It is like a second funeral, he says. In the background is Hasankeyf’s ancient citadel, one of the few monuments high enough to survive the rising waters, but is now fronted by a huge, white stone wall to protect it.
For 73-year-old Mehmet, the endless construction work around these old monuments is like watching the funeral of an old friend. He is busy cultivating the figs and grapes in his garden that he has tended since he was a child. This is the last time — by April, they will be underwater.
A new Hasankeyf has been built nearby, with some of the old town’s monuments relocated there and brand-new homes for its 3,000 inhabitants. But many find it hard to let go.
“This year, officials told us not to sow seeds because the water was coming, but we did it anyway. We will sow right up to the end,” said Meseha, 62, in the nearby village of Cavuslu.
Some parts of the valley have already become a lake. That is forcing local fishermen, used to working the flowing waters of the Tigris, to adapt to still waters.
Halil Ertan, 48, is not impressed by the new types of fish he finds in the lake — fatter and less tasty, he says.
Back at the graveyard, 12-year-old Yunus is looking for the grave of his little brother who died at birth in 2016.
But when he finds it, the officials tell him the family has not done the necessary paperwork for the grave to be moved. It will be submerged with everything else that is left behind.