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Algeria: Human Rights of Women
Algeria: Human Rights of Women
Date Distributed (ymd): 970311
Document reposted by APIC
This posting contains three documents, one a recent action
alert by International Women's Human Rights Law Clinic at the
City University of New York (IWHR, e-mail:
email@example.com); the second a background press
release from the Center for Constitutional Rights, 666
Broadway, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10012; tel: 212-614-6464; email:
firstname.lastname@example.org; and the third a more general background
document from Amnesty International. More information from
Amnesty International can be found at the organization's
international Web site (www.amnesty.org) or U.S. Web site
IWHR URGENT ALERT
February 26, 1997
This is an urgent request for your assistance in demanding
that the United States government deny political asylum or
withholding of deporataion to Anwar Haddam, a key leader,
policy maker and spokesperson for the Islamic Salvation Front
(FIS) and Armed Islamic Group (GIA), two of the most extreme
and significant terrorist groups in Algeria today.
Anwar Haddam is in the custody of the INS and has made a claim
for political asylum. Under U.S. law, Anwar Haddam is not
entitled to asylum or withholding of deportation because he
has "ordered, inited, assisted of otherwise participated in
the persecution" of others. It is the obligation of the
federal government, and particularly of the Immigration and
Naturalization Service (INS), to enforce this law.
Now there is concern that the United States government may
make a deal with Haddam, either giving him political asylum or
withholding deportation and thereby allowing him to remain in
the country. Either result would be abhorrent and provide him
a cloak of legal, moral and political legitimacy.
In his official capacity as a leader and representative of FIS
and GIA, Anwar Haddam has assisted and participated in a
criminal campaign of terror against civil society in Algeria,
targeting indepedent democrats, intellectuals, feminists and
women who do not conform to Islamist dictates, as well as
journalists and foreigners. The acts of terror include
assassination and summary execution; beheading and mutilation;
hijacking and hostage-taking; and the burning of schools.
The stated goal of this campaign-- which FIS/GIA call a jihad
or holy war-- is to establish a theocratic state that would
function according to tenets comparable to those enunciated by
the Taliban in Afghanistan. Like the Taliban, the FIS/GIA call
for and enforce through violence and terror, the complete
segregation of men and women in public life and the obedience
of women to their version of Islam. Particularly vicious acts
of violence against women in Algeria have included the
beheading of a young girl who appeared in public without a
veil; and the kidnapping, rape and murder of young wmen who
have been forced into "temporary mariages" and held in sexual
slavery at the secret bases of militant terrorist groups.
Anwar Haddam has played a significant role in the planning and
conduct of these terror campaigns, and has also claimed the
power to stop it if the FIS/GIA demands are met. As spokesman
for FIS/GIA, he has publicly justified and applauded brutal
assassinations and bombings. He is currently the target of an
investigation by the French government into bombings in
France; it is believed that there is a sealed indictment and
strong evidence against him in this connection.
As detailed in the attached press release issued by the Center
for Constitutional Rights in New York City, on December 17,
1996 a group of women's rights advocates, intellectuals,
journalists and poitical democrats from Algeria filed suit in
the federal district court in Washington, D.C. charging Haddam
and FIS with crimes against humanity and other egregious
violations of human rights.
Anwar Haddam has resided in the U.S. acting as representative
of the FIS, since 1993. In the fall of 1996, his initial claim
for asylum was denied and he was subsequently arrested by the
INS. Once in custody, he renewed his request for political
Women's groups and advocates of religious tolerance and
democratic ideals around the world are outraged that the
United States would consider providing this kind of protection
to Anwar Haddam and his terrorist organizations. Not only
would such an action by the U.S. government provide a veneer
of legitimacy to Haddam and FIS/GIA, it would send a message
to terrorists in many parts of the world that the United
States is prepared to give them explicit or tacit protection.
It would also communicate to all who struggle against such
terror that gross violations of their human rights do not
We therefore call on the United States government to firmly
oppose Anwar Haddam's claim for political asylum and to pursue
his involuntary deportation.
Please fax letters stating your concern to: President Clinton
(202) 456-2461, Attorney General Janet Reno (202) 514-4371,
Secretary of State Madeline Albright (202) 647-7120, Director
of INS Doris Meisner (202) 514-3296
CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS
Contact: Jenny Green at (212) 614-6434/6431 or
Rhonda Copelon at (718) 575-4300
ALGERIAN FUNDAMENTALISTS SUED FOR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY
Anwar Haddam and Islamic Salvation Front Charged In U.S. Human
Washington, D.C., December 18th, 1996 - Late last evening
women's rights advocates, intellectuals, political democrats,
journalists, and opponents of religious intolerance, sued the
Islamic Salvation "Front (FIS), and its US-based
representative, Anwar Haddam, for crimes against humanity, war
crimes and other human rights violations. The FIS and its
armed branches, the Armed Islamic Group (GIA, Armed Islamicj
Movement (MIA), and Islamic Salvation Army (AIS), is an
organized, fundamentalist, Islamic movement in Algeria which
is engaged in a campaign of terror with the objective of using
relgion to seize power. FIS/GIA/MIA/AIS tactics include:
assassinations, beheading, rape and other torture, hijacking,
hostage-taking, mutilation, extortion, ethnic cleansing and
sexual slavery. Among its goals are the establishment of a
state based on sexual apartheid.
Anwar Haddam has been residing in the US since 1992, during
which time he has operated as an official representative of
the FIS. Recently, US immigration authorities initiated
exclusion proceeding against Haddam and he is currently being
held in Virginia, where he was served with the lawsuit late
The plaintiffs represent over 1500 women and men, individuals
at all levels of society, who asked the New York-based Center
for Constitutional Rights (CCR) to take legal action intended
to hold the FIS, its armed branches, and Haddam responsible
for the atrocities they have committed. Independent of the
Algerian state, they represent the heterogeneous group of all
those working for a civil society in Algeria.
The Center for Constitutional Rights filed the lawsuit with
the International Women's Human Rights Law Clinic (IWHR), and
the Washington law firm of Maggio and Kattar. The case is
brought under the Alien Tort Claims Act, which has been used
to great effect by CCR in vindicating Human Rights violations
carried out around the world.
One of the plaintiffs, Jane Doe III, who has requested that
the court use a fictitious name for her because of fears for
the safety of herself and family, discussed her purpose in
bringing the lawsuit: "We have engaged in this action so that
those who are responsible, including Anwar Haddam, for the
horrors committed against us will not remain unpunished." A
second plaintiff continued, "We place this action in the
global struggle against all forms of fundamentalism and
fascism. In Algeria, the goal of Haddam and the other
instigators is to establish a theocratic fascist state. We
cannot accept this."
Rhonda Copelon, CCR Vice-President and director of IWHR
commented on the importance of the lawsuit: "FIS cannot commit
crimes against humanity and expect to operate with impunity in
the United States. This case allows those who demand the right
to live in security and liberty in a democratic Algeria to
make their case in court. The activists who have come forward
do so at tremendous risk to themselves and their families."
Amnesty International News
Posted by the International Secretariat of Amnesty
International, 1 Easton Street, London WC1X 8DJ (Tel
+44-71-413-5500, Fax +44-71-956-1157)
News Service 213/96
AI INDEX: MDE: 28/13/96 19 NOVEMBER 1996
ALGERIA: THE HIDDEN HUMAN RIGHTS CRISIS.
BRUSSELS -- Growing numbers of civilians have died or
"disappeared" in Algeria in recent years where killings,
torture and abductions are committed in the name of the
"anti-terrorist fight" by some or "holy war" by others,
Amnesty International said in a report released today.
"There is an atmosphere of terror and lawlessness in Algeria,
where security forces commit extrajudicial executions, torture
and "disappearances", armed opposition groups kill civilians,
often decapitating and mutilating their victims, and
government-backed militias have taken the law into their own
hands," said Pierre Sane, Secretary General of Amnesty
Much of the horror which haunts the Algerian population is
hidden behind a wall of silence, as the government censors
information considered to be security-related, and masked by
the indifference of the international community. In its
report, based on detailed information gathered from a wide
range of sources, including eyewitnesses victims, lawyers,
doctors, and army and security forces personnel, Amnesty
International -- the only international human rights
organization which has continued to visit Algeria in recent
years -- discloses the hidden reality.
"Despite repeated claims by the authorities that human rights
are respected and that the security situation has improved,
the fact that the pattern of abuses continues shows that for
both security forces and armed opposition groups human rights
abuses are an integral part of their strategy," Mr Sane said.
Amnesty International calls on all armed opposition groups to
put an end to their murderous campaign against civilians and
on the Algerian authorities to investigate human rights
abuses, lift the impunity enjoyed by security forces, and
disband the government-backed militias, as a first step to
putting an end to the mass violations.
More than 50,000 people are reported to have been killed in
the past five years. The identity and motives of those
responsible for murders and other atrocities have become
increasingly difficult to establish. Security forces often
wear plain clothes and do not identify themselves, while armed
opposition groups at times wear uniforms and pose as security
forces. The proliferation and fragmentation of armed
opposition groups, and government-backed militias has further
added to the confusion.
"Just citing the numbers of those who have lost their lives
can never convey the horror of the suffering of each
individual, of each bereaved family," Mr Sane said.
The victims come from all walks of life: women, children,
civil servants, teachers, journalists, religious figures,
political activists as well as relatives of members of
security forces, government-backed militias and armed
opposition groups. Many were killed in their homes in front of
their families, some after having been abducted, and others
were victims of indiscriminate attacks. As the circle of
abuses by both government forces and armed opposition has
continued to widen, civilians are increasingly trapped in the
spiral of violence.
Extrajudicial executions by security forces are widespread and
appear to be used as an alternative to arrest, to eliminate
suspects, to take revenge for killings of security forces by
armed opposition groups, or to intimidate those who may
support armed groups. Detainees have been killed during secret
detention, weeks or months after their arrest. These victims
are sometimes described by the authorities as "terrorists"
killed during armed confrontations, or as victims of
Government-backed militias, defined as "self-defence groups"
or "patriots", have committed deliberate and arbitrary
killings with impunity. These militias, reportedly set up to
defend their villages against armed opposition groups, are
increasingly involved in "anti-terrorist" operations, acting
outside the framework of law-enforcement and accountability.
Allowing these militias to take the law into their own hands
has further eroded and undermined the rule of law.
Armed opposition groups who define themselves as "Islamic
groups" have continued to kill civilians, both in targeted and
indiscriminate attacks. Many of their victims have had their
throats cut, or were decapitated or mutilated, at times in
front of their children and other relatives.
"Such atrocities have created an atmosphere of terror, where
people fear not just being killed, but being killed in
particularly brutal ways," Mr Sane said.
Furthermore, these groups have increasingly targeted wives and
relatives of members of the security forces and have also
been responsible for abducting and raping women.
Amnesty International is also concerned about the
"disappearances" of hundreds of people arrested by security
forces. Some were reportedly seen in secret detention weeks
or months after arrest and their families continue to search
for them. "All they want to know is if their loved ones are
dead or alive and where they are, but the authorities deny all
knowledge of them," Mr Sane said.
The practice of torture has become widespread, especially
during secret detention in police and gendarmerie stations,
military security centres and other places of detention. The
aim is mainly to extract confessions, but torture is also used
to punish detainees outside the context of interrogation.
No investigations are known to have been carried out into
abuses such as extrajudicial executions, torture and
"disappearances" and members of the security forces have not
been brought to justice for such crimes.
"Victims and their families are therefore left feeling that
they have no recourse for seeking justice," Mr Sane said.
While the Algerian authorities have the right and the duty to
bring to justice those responsible for killings and other
atrocities, no level of violence by armed groups -- no matter
how serious -- can ever justify the crimes committed by the
Amnesty International condemns in the strongest terms the
murders and other heinous abuses committed by armed opposition
groups against civilians, and calls on these groups to put an
end to their campaign of terror. At the same time, the crimes
committed by the security forces and government-backed
militias cannot be allowed to continue unpunished.
"Urgent measures must be taken by the authorities to
investigate these crimes and bring to justice those
responsible, so as to end impunity and restore the rule of
law," Mr Sane said.
This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the
Africa Policy Information Center (APIC), the educational
affiliate of the Washington Office on Africa. APIC's primary
objective is to widen the policy debate in the United States
around African issues and the U.S. role in Africa, by
concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant
information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and