While various countries in the Arab world are embroiled in modern-day conflict stemming from an amateur video made about the prophet Muhammad, Algeria’s most recent turmoil points to its past – the 1990s period that was characterized by civil war, including factious fighting and the popular emergence of Islamist groups within the state.
The United Nations has decided to send experts to Algeria to investigate a number of civilian disappearances during the 1990s, UN human rights commissioner Navi Pillay announced during a Wednesday visit to Algiers. Pillay did not signal when the experts would enter the country, but remarked that the UN had received full support from the Algerian government in the preliminary stages of the probe.
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During Pillay’s visit to the country’s capital, Algerian police forcibly contained a group of demonstrators, who were later revealed to be family members of the disappeared.
Approximately 20,000 Algerians are still unaccounted for since the 1990s, according to Algeria-Watch, a human rights organization that tracks conflict in Algeria. The Algerian Civil War, which began in 1990 and lasted until 1999, left 200,000 dead and resulted in 1.5 million displaced persons.