After almost 2 months detained in the prison of Ghardaia and being in hunger strike for 50 days, human rights defender, Kamal Eddine Fekhar, died on the 28th of May in Blida, Algeria.
Kamal Eddine Fekhar was a medical doctor, the founder of Tifawt, a foundation that works to protect and promote the rights of the Amazigh people, and member of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights.
The same day Fekhar was detained, Hadj Ibrahim Aouf, a trade unionist and Mozabite minority rights defender was also arrested. Both started an open-ended hunger strike and due to their rapidly deteriorating health, Kamal Eddine Fekhar and Hadj IbrahimAouf were transferred to the hospital of Ghardaia after almost one month. They were put in the prison ward of the hospital where they received poor medical care.
Their lawyer, Salah Dabouz, visited them in the hospital and reported inhumane conditions in the prison ward, with the human rights defenders being chained to their beds and suffering from skin infections as a result of poor hygiene in the ward. Their repeated requests to see a doctor were rejected. On 28 May 2019, around 2am, KamalEddine Fekhar died as a result of medical negligence.
Kamal Eddine Fekhar had been arrested on 31 March 2019, near his workplace along with his two children. On the same day, Hadj Ibrahim Aouf was also arrested. They were detained for criticising public institutions, namely the military, Parliament and judiciary, based on a complaint made by the general prosecutor of the city of Ghardaia.
They declared an open-ended hunger strike to protest against their arbitrary arrest and prosecution. The health of both activists rapidly deteriorated as a result of the hunger strike as well as medical negligence in the prison of Ghardaia.
This is not the first time a detained human rights defender has died while on hunger strike in Algeria. Mohamed Tamalt was a human rights defender and journalist who was openly critical of the Algerian government’s human rights record. He died on 11 December 2016 after being detained since 27 June 2016. Mohamed Tamalt went on hunger strike right after he was arrested to protest against the arbitrariness of his detention. His health continued to deteriorate rapidly and he was transferred to a hospital in August 2016. It was only then that his family noticed he had a scar on his head that may have been connected to his subsequent death.