Trade union militants now face a double-barreled repression. They are targeted as trade unionists challenging the monopoly of the UGTA, and under attack for their role in driving and sustaining the ongoing democracy movement, the magnificent Hirak which erupted in February last year.

The Hirak dislodged Bouteflika, but could not shake the structure of power, at the heart of which is the military. The street could not prevent the December 12 electoral farce which millions of Algerians understandably view as thoroughly illegitimate. Behind the façade of an election in which citizens were asked to select one of five presidential candidates approved by the military, the crackdown on civic activists, including trade unionists, has intensified.