Fresh clashes erupted between protesters and security forces in the mainly Berber Kabylie region east of Algiers on Monday, as the authorities announced an inquiry into allegations of police violence.
The security forces confronted around 400 demonstrators in the region’s main city Tizi Ouzou, firing tear gas and making a number of arrests, an Agence France Presse journalist reported.
The rally was called to mark the anniversary of the so-called Berber Spring, a movement demanding recognition of Berber language and culture that was brutally suppressed by the Arabizing regime of the time in an operation that climaxed on April 20, 1980.
Opposition parties condemned the violent suppression of anniversary demonstrations, while the national security service (DGSN) announced it had launched an inquiry into the contents of a video showing “police actions that are contrary to professional ethics.”
The video, which was posted on the Internet on Sunday, when the violence first broke out, showed police beating protesters in Tizi Ouzou.
“The contents of the video shows actions that are unacceptable and damage the reputation of the police force, whatever their motivations,” DGSN spokesman Djilali Boudalia said, cited by official media.
He said the head of the security service, General Abdelghani Hamel, had ordered “disciplinary measures to be taken against anyone who violates the dignity of the citizen.”
The Rally for Culture and Democracy, a secular opposition party with strong Kabyle roots, denounced the police repression which it said “contrasted with the peaceful impulse that inspired citizens to come and express their loyalty to the message of the Berber Spring.”
The rival Socialist Forces Front (FFS) “vigorously denounced and condemned” the prevention of this year’s anniversary rally.
Kabylie was also the focus of protests during last week’s presidential election, when some 70 people were wounded in clashes between police and young people seeking to disrupt the vote.