Testimony of Lazhar Bessadi: «A high-ranking algerian police officer threatened me with death»


One day after the demonstration, at 5.30 pm, I received a phone call from an activist friend telling me that the suppression will be ferocious and that it is absolutely necessary for us be on place in order to reinforce the organizing committee who has already planned ahead for the demonstration. Once on place, the activists of Tuvirett (Rafur, Taqervuzt, Iwaqquren, Carfa …) an opportunity for me to greet them, ensured a moving protocol worthy of the fight that we are leading.

Around midnight a briefing meeting was held to bring everyone to the same level of information, where we were unanimous to say that we were going to resist whatever happens.

The enthusiasm was such that the few hours which separate us from the appointment passed more quickly than usual. At 6:30 in the morning we gathered in the point of contact, to start the caravan as planned.

On our way, the cell phones of the activists were ringing all the time. We were informed of arrests everywhere. No vehicle escaped the control of the colonial forces. « Tuvirett is besieged, control roadblocks installed on all the roads leading to the city, » said an activist on the phone.

When we arrived at the bus station, which was full of police officers in civilian clothes and in uniforms, we were about thirty activists and we decided to go to the starting point of the demonstration. Once on place, we found the university gate infested with riot policemen. My backpack was the first thing that attracted them. They asked me to give it to them and as I refused, they fell on me to snatch it from me but I resisted. Rachida ider intervened between me and the policemen. She tried to help me and other activists intervened. We resisted. But, when colonial police reinforcements arrived, there I could do nothing to push back all this armada which fell on me.

They got me into a police station where I found Frawsen Frawsen Vusevsi who was already detained. A while later, they moved us to the central police station of Tuvirett. I and Frawsen were transferred together. Halfway, we were singing the Kabyle National Anthem. It was as if we were practicing an exorcism ritual on the policemen. The anthem made them furious and very nervous.

Once in the central police station, a policeman pointed at me «Hawlek lmareg li hdartukum 3lih» (here is the troublemaker I told you about). And that’s where the hell started for me. Three zealous BRI officers jumped on me by punching me on the chest, kicking me at tibias level. They held me by the hair and that’s where I lost the notion of time. Everything was moving very quickly. From one office to another, policemen have pulled me inside every time. They pushed me against the wall trying to handcuff me, but I did not let myself be. A policeman even tried to push me through a window in order to make me fall into the void but I just escaped it. His colleagues told him «what are you doing? » he replied: «he wants to throw himself out of the window, he wants to incriminate us this one» and they started to hit me again. They tied my hands and feet and lifted me up to take me to another office. I did not know what was going on and was totally confused. At one time, I heard a teaser sound and immediately I thought of a cardiac arrest. My heart was beating very fast. I do not know what made the policeman change his opinion when he drew it but all I know is that I was lucky to have escaped from it.

A while later they calmed down; they put me in an office to interrogate me and that’s where I met Youcef Messouaf, the president of the MAK-Anavad South Coordination. A policeman began to ask me questions while trying to differ himself from his colleagues by telling me that they were not all the same and that those who hit us are brutes.

At the end of the interrogation and the fingerprints, they transferred me to a BRI station, me and several of my activist brothers: Agawa At Qassi, Yuva Djouaher, Belaid Meswaf and many others. Once arrived in this station, they took us to a basement where I met activists and non-activists, arrested by error or by terror.

After two long hours in the basement, I saw a sudden reaction on the policemen who were guarding the door. They stood at attention and I saw fright on their faces. That’s when I realized that a senior officer came to visit us. Indeed, it was the police chief.

He began to interrogate contemptuously the young people who were sequestered in the room. Yuva Djouaher responded coldly and just after interrogating two other people, it was my turn. He asked me questions in arabic and I pretended not to understand. He asked a policeman to translate. When he asked why I came for the demonstration. I replied that it is for the independence of Kabylia. That’s where he started insulting me and called me all names, repeating the word «independence», as if I waved a cross on Satan’s face.

He asked the policemen to isolate me and Yuva Djouaher, a thing the police did at once. A few minutes later, the tyrant joined us, knowing that at that moment I morally prepared myself for all the pressures and violence. He asked the policemen to take off my pants. I just smiled and put my hand on my belt, making a gesture to say that I am going to take it off myself. I am not scared of nudity, I said, and this has harassed him. Then he came close to me, put his radio antenna on my neck and threatened me with death. I fixed my eyes on him to show him that I am scared of nothing, especially after a day in which I suffered so many abuses. And as he saw me determined, he said to a policeman: « Do what you want of him » and then he left.

The policeman, outraged at his superior behaviour, chose to put us back in the basement. Another policeman, in civilian clothes, arrived and began to randomly select the activists to be beaten. He first started with a young man from Iwaquren, Younes Tizimit Bounadi and then came the turn of another young man whom I did not have the opportunity to know. The president of the MAK-Anavad East Coordination, Mass Kouceila Ikken, addressed the activists at this time to have a wise speech and encourage them to keep their nerves: « They are real criminals; they are capable of everything ».

I was the third to be chosen, under the pretext of checking the contents of an USB that they found on me during the search.

Once in an office at the top of the building, he started telling me about Rachida by calling her all names and covering her with all kinds of misinformation. I have no more energy to answer him and I pretended to have heard nothing.

Subsequently, they transferred us to the central police station in order to get back our phones and this is where the famous devil chief asked to see me so that he will try to convince me to fight for autonomy and agree to leave the movement of self-determination while trying to corrupt me.

My body is full of hematomas. It should be noted that many activists informed me that they witnessed an electrical shock that I would have received from algerian police. I have no remembrance of these facts.

Some hematomas on my arms

Lazhar Bessadi, activist of At Waɛvan

Translated from French by Muhend u Rezqi

NB : I translated this testimony into English in order to make the whole world knows what Kabyles undergo in algeria.

SIWEL 252055 May 17 UTC

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