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Proclamation for the Creation of a Democracy in Algeria – London 1985 (English)

· Given that the foundation and the goals of the Algerian Revolution were predetermined by the anti-democratic nature of the colonial power that the Revolution set out to destroy; the Revolution introduced itself with great hopes of democracy.

· Given that the basic ideals of the Algerian Revolution were formed during decades of successive battles against all forms of economic exploitation, political domination, linguistic discrimination, and judicial over-seeing that characterized colonialism.

· Given that political pluralism, freedom of information, freedom of expression and of association were squeezed out of the colonial power, despite terror inflicted by the police and massive economic repression – all of these factors turned into the best school for Algerian men and women, where we learned about civics and politics.

· Given that the Algerian people’s awareness of democracy was formed by the permanent denouncing of rigged elections, and of the prominent citizens “yes-men”, and of the two tiered system consisting of “superior citizens” who were above the law and the everyone else who were their subjects and had no rights.

· Given that the independent ideal crystallized over a long period of time, both in the heart of our country as well as in the hearts of those who emigrated. This ideal has been embodied by an aptly named political party – “The Movement for The Triumph of Democratic Liberties”.

· Remembering that the motto of this movement, so many times voted on by the people : “Let the people’s voice be heard !” “Election of an Algerian Constitutional Assembly.”

Those who have signed below are stating :

· That 23 years after the referendum for self-determination establishing the Algerian State, Algerian men and women have not achieved this yet, they cannot rightly be called citizens since they are deprived of elementary rights and fundamental liberties recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Algerians fear for their personal safety; they live in a police-state where justice is dealt in very haphazard and arbitrary way. Algerians do not have neither freedom of the press, nor the right to assemble ; without these basic rights there can be no growth towards democracy.

In all areas of daily life, as much so on the local level as the national level, Algerians come up against colonial practices such as inordinate supervision, contempt, and arbitrary justice. Our people are not prepared for democracy, it is a carrot held out before us, but always at the end of a very long stick. The unequal treatment of the small number of “superior citizens” and everyone else; the unequal treatment of men and women; the unequal treatment of different regions of the country particularly illustrate the politics of division, of regression and of discrimination introduced by feudalistic civil servants and the militaries who both share power among themselves, working against the young people especially against young emigrants.

· The Algerian people do not control their own country. Their democratic liberties have been confiscated. Imposed first by force and then through rigged elections and totalitarianism, the current political system boasts of its democratic legitimacy. The current system’s claim that it speaks in the name of the national community is merely an attempt to replace our country’s voice with its own – a shameless practice of fascist regimes. This is childish. Moreover, if everyone is part of the government, who then is being governed? The truth is obvious. Governments monopolize the political arena, administrators are excluded from politics and therefore have no voice in decisions concerning economic plans, cultural initiatives, or international agendas. They are condemned to put up with economic catastrophes, immense wastes of capital, agricultural ruin, and the depletion of natural resources, more and more emigration, all of this caused by the daily manipulations of a single ruling party and reinforced daily by the press and official media.

· 23 years after gaining independence, our country has lost the control of its own destiny. Everything is happening as if Algeria itsself, its people, its memory of history, the riches of its soil and even the memories of its martyrs – as if all this is the exclusive property of the ruling class which sustains and is sustained by vested interests.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. It dictates to Algerians, their rulers, their reading and the domestic and the foreign press, what ideas everyone should and shouldn’t have.

Today, Algeria is a country where the creation of both an association to honor its martyrs and a Human Rights League is considered as a treat to the national security. The governments do not support political activism of the citizens. It is a threat to their power. These governments prefer their corrupt financial practices even as they liberate scores of dignitaries from our prisons — people guilty of hijacking and embezzlement. These freed prisoners are then put to work as part of the government.

· 23 years after the victory of the Algerian people over colonialism, the Algierian military-police State refuses to recognize any attempt at democracy ; it is following in the path of South American countries as witnesse the increasing number of generals being promoted, the repressive acts covered by wicked laws, the latest episode of the revoked charter, the dangers of renouncing to the positive neutralism of Bandung’s summit spirit, the attempts to use violence to end political, economic, social, and linguistic tensions that have accumulated as result of anti-democratic management.

We who have signed below declare :

The only path to save Algeria is the establishment of a democratic regime truly based on the following principles –

· Respect of Human Rights as outlined in the Universal Declaration and the International Agreements which remain ratified by our country.

· Tolerance, freedom of thought, and political and ideological pluralism.

· The right to assemble and to create political parties.

· The right to form unions and the right to strike.

· The right to personal safety and respect for each person physical integrity.

· To institutionalize the right to teach and develop the national language and culture of the Berber people, and make that both the language and culture florish.

· Open and competitive elections at every level that will guarantee citizens a free choice as well as the right to stand for elections and to challenge those elected.

· To guarantee the separation of the legislative, the executive and the judiciary powers and the independence of the media.

· To limit the powers of each institutional branch to only its area of competence.

We who have signed below declare:

Legitimacy must be gained through free elections. To give power back to the Algerian people there must be free elections. Through these elections we will create a National Assembly which will be the unique source of legitimacy. This Assembly will give our country a constitution.

The Respect of Human Rights and the promotion of democratic liberties must be incorporated as fundamental laws which will be adhered to by the government itself as well as the citizens.

We the undersigned would like to clarify that we do not intend to present ourselves as an alternative government or as some sort of back-up plan. Our goal is to begin a political discussion as a way to begin bringing democracy to our country.

All citizens, men and women, are invited to mobilize in the weighing of peaceful ideas to demystify the false ideologies, to impose the reign of the law and to open an era of justice, fraternity, and happiness for the Algerian people.

Ait Ahmed Ben Bela
London 1985