Algerian students’ defense of the ‘National Student Conference’

The following interview, with Melissa G., member of the Pôle des étudiants algériens (PEA), was conducted by Iddir Nadir for El Watan. It was published on the 20 August 2019.

In it, Melissa G. defends PEA’s planned Conference, an event criticised by the Student Bloc of the University of Béjaïa.


The PEA has launched the idea of the National Student Conference, which should have taken place on the 17 August. What’s going on?

We’ve been working on a road-map since May. We’d been thinking of launching a conference in our name as a small act of pressure, in addition to weekly marches. Our aim was to call out to students at other universities, to organise towards the formation of a student network. For the occasion, we contacted plenty of different groups [dynamiques], including the West Pole [as sub-group of the PEM] as well as pharmacy and medical students. Others refused to participate. The conference was open to all students, was to be widely accessible, and include the maximum number of participants in the road-map.

A road-map was going to be presented and criticised at the conference …

The planning [for the network] was going to come from the revealing of the road-map, which was going to be presented, criticised, and met with a series of student interventions. A final declaration would’ve been published after all the interventions. Our road-map proposal cited mechanisms aiming at the withdrawal of people who symbolise the system, the freeing of the media, the independence of the judicial system, constitutional amendments allowing the separation of powers – which would assure the emergence of a civil and democratic state – without forgetting the opening of both the media and politics, the liberation of prisoners-of-conscience, as well as the guarantee of individual and collective liberties. These components are indisputable conditions, before thinking about transparent elections.

The authorisation to hold the conference has finally been cancelled. Why?

You have to appreciate that we collaborated with the Forum des étudiants (FE), which was responsible for process of requesting authorisation. We had a communication problem with the Forum — it didn’t have the final authorisation, despite the long wait. In the end, we hope this experience will be useful going forward, and that in September, it will help students to be organised and be stronger, and constitute a real, interventionist force [force de proposition].

What do you think about the panel de dialogue of Karim Younès? [1]

We are categorically against this ‘panel de dialogue‘, which is not representative of the people, and which, in any case, will not at all defend the interests of the al-Ḥirāk [the Movement]. We also declare that the student unions contacted by this panel don’t represent us.


[1] Al-M are preparing translations concerning the various para-official efforts to ‘exit the crisis’, of which Younès is presumably example.

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