Algeria: Cherifa Kheddar Beaten and Arrested on International Women's Day

12th March 2015

Today, just one day after we delivered a tribute women human rights defenders attacked for their activism, we received news from Algerian activist Cherifa Kheddar that she was assaulted by police and arrested along with several other members of her organization while trying to demonstrate in front of the Central Post Office on International Women's Day in Algiers.  

Cherifa is President of Djazairouna, the Association of Victims of Islamist Terror in Algeria.  The demonstration involved holding a banner bearing the names of women killed by the fundamentalist armed groups in Algeria in the 1990s (including her own sister, the lawyer Leila Kheddar). Cherifa was released later the same day, though she still has some serious bruises.  She was told by the police no longer to use the phrase "Islamist terrorist".  She sent us this short statement:

"On the occasion of March 8, I received a very special gift.  I was arrested this Sunday March 8 for having organized a peaceful demonstration in memory of the women victims of terrorism (who were raped and assassinated).  The authorities are now denying even the right to memory. I was beaten, insulted and called every possible vulgar and rude name in the interior of the police station in Cavaignaque [in Algiers].  I received the first blow while still in front of the Central Post Office, and from the police commander of this station.  I was freed that night. All this simply for having displayed a banner showing the list of women victims."  

We are shocked and appalled that our friend has been treated this inhumane way only for exercising her right to peaceful protest. Cherifa, we stand with you in your quest for truth and justice.

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Cherifa Kheddar with the Human Rights Award given by International Service in 2008.

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Cherifa Kheddar with Fatou Sow and Aisha Shaheed of WLUML, 2008.