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7 Hum. Rts. Defender 1 (1998)

handle is hein.journals/hurighdef7 and id is 1 raw text is: DIPLOMACY
Affiliated with the
University of NSW

I-Iluman Rights ,
Austran Human
Rights Centre, Faculty
of Law UNSW

March 1998, Volume 7, Number 1
ISSN 1039-2637
The massacres of innocents in Algeria
An intemal matter or an international issue?

By Hossein Esmaeili

During the last five years
more than 75,000 helpless
civilians have been brutally
massacred in Algeria. The
Algerian    government
claims that the conflict is an
internal affair of a
sovereign state. However,
the intervention of Kofi
Annan, the United Nations
Secretary General, in
August 1997, gave the
Algerian    crisis   an
international    aspect.
Comparing the Algerian
crisis with a number of
similar situations in which the United Nations has taken
action may lead to the conclusion that an international
intervention is required to prevent more bloodshed in Algeria.
The current wave of violence started when the Algerian army
staged a coup to prevent the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS)
from ganing power at an election in 1992 Following the
coup, a High Council was established. The FIS was dissolved
by the authorities and a state of emergency was declared,
The military government was more or less supported by a
number of Arab countries and France. The United States
maintained a conspicuous silence and issued a mere statement
remarking its regret. Fear of the estabhshment of an Islamic
state appeared to be the ground on which the West justified its
silence when the first democratic election in the Arab world
was overthrown by a military backed government
In recent months further innocent civilians have been
slaughtered in an mucreasingly savage manner The military-
backed government of Algeria accuses the opposition Islamist
group for the massacres. Muslim opposition groups and some
-f the world press point the finger at the hardline generals and
divisions in the security forces for either participating in the
massacres or being reluctant to confront the perpetrators. It is

obvious the military regime of Algeria has been either unable
or unwilling to stop the massacres.
The world community has turned its attention to the Algerian
situation. The UN Secretary-General condemned the continuing
massacre as a brutal act ofterrortsm and called for tolerance
and dialogue between all parties in Algeria. The UN human
fights officials have shown a willingness to visit Algeria
However, the Algerian Government refuses to allow the UN
human rights officials to visit the country. The government of
Algeria considers the conflict an internal affair of a sovereign
state Accordingly it rejects any intervention by international
organisations and by foreign States.

Human Rights Defender, March 1998

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