CUPE member Lazhar Zouaïmia has been conditionally released from prison in Algeria after being unjustly detained on trumped-up charges. CUPE is calling on the Canadian government to work for his complete and unconditional release, and safe return to Canada.
Zouaïmia is a member of the Syndicat des technologues d’Hydro-Québec (CUPE 957) and a long-time activist with Amnesty International’s French-Canadian section. He was arrested in Algeria on February 19, 2022, just as he was about to fly back to Canada after a stay with his family. He is a Canadian citizen with dual citizenship.
In a letter sent to foreign affairs minister Mélanie Joly before Zouaïmia’s release, CUPE called on the Canadian government to urgently take up his case and work for his immediate release and return.
Zouaïmia’s arrest and detention are part of a well-documented escalation of political repression by Algerian authorities. For months, non-governmental organizations and United Nations human rights bodies have been warning about the scaled-up repression.
As a dual citizen, Zouaïmia joined other Algerians abroad in demonstrations supporting a non-violent citizen movement demanding democratic change in Algeria. The movement is known as the Hirak. Zouaïmia is one of dozens of citizens in Algeria facing trumped-up charges of terrorism, simply for having expressed dissenting opinions and criticizing the Algerian government.
CUPE sends solidarity and strength to Lazhar and his family. We will work to keep up the pressure until he is safely home in Canada, and join the call for the release of all political prisoners in Algeria and elsewhere around the world.