KABYLIE HONORED AT THE FRENCH NATIONAL ASSEMBLY – ENDING A HISTORICAL MISUNDERSTANDING

This is a historical moment and an unprecedented event: Kabylia is admitted to the French National Assembly. It symbolises 9change in history.

Dear Friends,

This is a historical moment and an unprecedented event: Kabylia is admitted to the French National Assembly. It symbolises 9change in history.
Relations between Kabylia and France are not without historical precedence. After all the events, from the Battle of Icherridène on 24 June 1857 to the uprising of 1871, from the creation of the National Movement in 1926 to the Algerian War sparked on 1 November 1954, from the Kabyle emigration to France throughout the twentieth century, including the painful events in Paris of 17 October 1961, to the massive flow of undocumented Kabyles that followed the popular revolt of the Black Spring in 2001, it is time to overcome the misunderstanding that has marked the relations between France and Kabylia.

We live a moment in which Kabylia is honored in these prestigious places and represents a first step in the right direction. We congratulate all those who worked for its realization, especially Eric Raoult, Deputy Mayor of Raincy and former Minister. This misunderstanding has never been dealt with for geopolitical reasons. As Kabylia did not recover its sovereignty at the independence of Algeria in 1962, because of procedural and bureaucratic formalisms, it was put under the jurisdiction of the Algerian state; Kabylia was then used and abused to avoid closing old wounds, which compromise the construction of a future of solidarity between the French and Kabyle people.
It is time for Kabylia to reassert itself and reclaim its rights and attributes in order to contribute, perhaps modestly, to the peace and regional economic prosperity of North Africa and the Mediterranean Basin. Kabylia no longer accepts that its past be exploited by others to turn it against itself and against countries and friendly peoples. Its historical heritage is to serve friendship and fraternity between peoples and not discord and war. Kabylia has never been at war with a people or country; that is a fact! Kabylia’s continuous fight for freedom and human dignity is a testament to Kabyles’ attachment to universal values that need additional players to disseminate and protect them in an environment that has recently deteriorated from bad to worse. The emergence of a secular and free Kabylia can only strengthen the international community in their love for peace and stability. For this reason, it would be good if this international community, starting with France, to recognize Kabylie’s right to its determination. The Kabyle Provisional Government needs the support of all to achieve this noble objective.

The Algerian government has lost legitimacy in Kabylia as it is seen and treated as an enemy since 1962; an area where repression, assault, occupation and colonization, and ravaging actions have been practiced during all this time. As the killing of the Kabyles is not enough, the government wants to kill their souls: their identity, language and culture. It would be tiresome to recount here all the policies that were intended to depersonalize Kabylia since 1962, by imposing another language, other religious practices and other customs. Following the Berber Spring uprising of 1980, economic sabotage is a constant of the Algiers regime in Kabylia (disinvestment, relocation, administrative budgets in dribs and drabs, fiscal pressure to skim profit on hard-working people …).

Since 1997, following an agreement between the paramilitary Islamic Salvation Front, Islamist terrorism that already prevailed elsewhere especially against the Kabyles, shifted massively its operations in Kabylia; taking credit for, among other casualties, the death of the rebellious song celebrity Matoub Lounes. When Bouteflika came to power, this handful of terrorists served as a pretext to him for an unprecedented military deployment in Kabylia where, strangely, the increasing military reinforcements bring more insecure than they are supposed to fight. Insecurity is not a cyclical phenomenon. It is a criminal policy deliberately decided by the highest dignitaries of the Algerian regime to officially bring the Kabyles down on their knees by fear. Thus, kidnappings have become a way to chase away traders and economic operations from Kabylia. Over a period of five years, there have been more than 70 kidnappings about which security services have never done anything. Some were lucky enough to be released thanks to the villagers’ intervention, and not to the official security corps. This is already known to countries having their embassies in Algiers, and even a WikiLeaks cable dated 12 September 2008 is devoted to the social and security situation in Kabylia. The cable notes that between 12 October 2006 and 28 August 2008 the region suffered no less than 18 terrorist operations.

The author of the cable echoed the indignation of the population, which is convinced that the Algerian government “uses outlaws to justify the oppression of the Kabyle people, repressing the autonomists (…) and expand the power of the police forces”. “Our Kabyle colleagues tell us that they are victims of Islamists who act in their area while they are from elsewhere, setting up fake check points that are on the rise (…). They lecture people, blame women for dressing indecently and scold men who drink alcohol (…). These checkpoints are also used to collect money and logistics.”

As for the Algerian army, they kill peaceful Kabyle citizens with no reason. Since June 2011, on average, one citizen is killed each month by the military. During the last three months alone, there were five abductions by armed groups, 13 bombings that have killed two and wounded eight civilians, 6 bars attacked and extorted by armed Islamist groups and 5 civilians killed in cold blood or in military punitive expeditions against the villagers. This morning, there was an impressive law enforcement deployment in Tizi Ouzou to prevent a march of the Movement for the Autonomy of Kabylia. The authorities are seeking a violent confrontation with Kabylia to secure themselves by nurturing and maintaining anti-Kabyle hatred throughout Algeria, as evidenced by Kabylia’s uprising in 1963 led by Aït-Ahmed, then in April 1980 and the Black Spring when 150 of our demonstrators were shot dead. So, you can see through this account that what opposes the Algerian authorities to Kabylia today is much heavier than the misunderstanding that may have existed in 1857-1962 period between France and Kabylia.

Dear Friends,

Despite the unbearable oppression in Kabylia, allow me to present to Kabylia and the Kabyle nation, on behalf of the Provisional Government of Kabylia and on my own behalf, my wishes of freedom for 2012.

Aɣref aqvayli, Aɣlan aqvayli, aseggas n tlelli.

Iɣerfan imaziɣen, asggas ameggaz

At the French National Assembly, 12 January 2012

Ferhat Mehenni

Translated from French by M. Mezache

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  1. Freedom is what Kabyles are looking for. The freedom to be what they are supposed to be. The freedom to be a symbole that expresses the pride of their ancestors, the culture and traditions of their nature. The freedom of speech, and religious practice, the freedom to be a modern man in a modern era. A kabyle is a hard working man, living in the most difficult conditions in the worst parts of the country. They run away to the mountains, to the desert, to preserve their identity, their language and dignity. They have been forced almost out of the country. Facing not only the harshness of nature but also repression, crime and injustice. Yet What they want seems very simple; the right to be Algerians on their own land.
    Aren’t we in the 21st century? Everyone knows the definition of democracy. But the latter has been ignored, known just as a word in Algeria.
    Kabyles have accepted Arabs and never fought to take them out, time had made them all Algerians and part of that land. They were happy to share the country, unite and create brotherhood. A kabyle never killed an Arab. A kabyle never killed an innocent. Why is it so hard to say yes? Yes, your language is our language and our language is your language. Why is it hard for a man to be a muslim and not let another man be a christian, an atheist, or a Buddhist…? why cant we even be friends with Jews? Aren’t they human like everyone else? Isn’t faith something personal? Isn’t the fight for god someone’s own struggle in life to follow god’s will? Is it just religion? Many of those kabyles who were killed by the government were Muslims.
    I am a kabyle! I had to run away from my country, to find freedom, to have a normal life. I have left my heart behind me, I have left my family, friends and dreams. No matter how comfortable I can feel here, yet I will never find proper happiness. My people are suffering and I am ready to fight next to them with every means possible. We fight with our knowledge, with our thoughts and the words of international law.
    The autonomy is no longer an option, it is a necessity.

    syissem Imazighen mara anda ma lane. chemarth iyighalen nwen. imouth nemouth, meqar anemeth afayen fethmeslayth issidnekar.
    Mo Ougouadfel
    London.

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