‘No specific group directs [dirige] these demonstrations’ writes Leïla Ouitis: ‘On the contrary, as was the case in the other countries of the region in 2011, this moment is one of sudden upheaval’.
That is not to say there are no would-be dirigeants. Since 22 February, al-Ḥirāk (the Movement) has generated women’s groups, students’ groups, and new dynamics in the trade union movement. Inevitably there has been both co-work and contest between al-Rāfiḍūn (‘the Rejectors’) as the movement nears its eighth month. Below is Declaration from students of University of Béjaïa against a second student grouping’s call for a national conference. Al-M will publish an interview with a spokesperson of that second group, the Pôle des étudiants algériens (or قطب الطلبة الجزائريين ; literally, ‘the Pole of Algerian Students’). The Declaration was shared on social media.
This translation was originally published on 11 September 2019.
Student Bloc of the University of Béjaïa
At the time when thousands of students, shouldering their full civic responsibility, are going out every Tuesday across the entire country to demonstrate on the streets, in order to replenish the movement during the summer-holidays until term-time resumes — a sacrifice with the sole purpose of breathing new life every week into the Friday rallies — it was with great surprise that we find that a ‘National Student Conference’ is to be held at the end of August by the Bloc of Algerian Students (present in the National Polytechnic School, the National Agronomic School, the National Informatics School, and the School of Architecture and Urbanism).
We, the representatives of the student bloc of the University of Béjaïa over the university holiday period, are aware that our representation of the students of our university in this period is not absolute, and of the need to renew the bloc at the beginning of the academic year. Moreover we are convinced of the necessity to defend the rights of expression and decision-making of the students of University Béjaïa, and [those of students] across the country’s regions. This is what we will try to do with this statement.
Since the beginning of the movement, we have organised ourselves into faculty committees at our universities. We, the students of Béjaïa, have worked night and day to achieve the highest possible level of co-ordination, including with different universities across the country, with as much representation as possible. It is therefore difficult for us to express the depth of our disappointment on learning, through the media, of the holding of the so-called ‘National Student Congress’ during university holidays, which excludes the overwhelming majority of students, many of whom have contributed a huge amount to the great victories that the Popular Movement has achieved since February 22. The initiators of this meeting were none other than the Pole of Algerian Students, who deserve all our respect for showing such strength and resilience through every test since the beginning of the February 22 revolution.
Finally, we will declare our unequivocal opposition [رفض; lit. rejection] if, at the end of this conference, any proposal to exit the crisis is announced on the basis of being supported by the national student movement — there will be no recognition of a legitimate representative or transitional program without democratic approval by the base, via general assemblies, for example.
Long Live the National Doordination of Students, as Wide as Possible!
Glory to Students’ Self-Organisation!
For a Free and Independent Algeria!
For a Free and Democratic University!