Received 23 April 2002
Amazigh (Berber), MOROCCO
Helene E. Hagan
President, Tazzla Institute for Cultural Diversity
email: heh@tazzla.org


THE TAZZLA INSTITUTE FOR CULTURAL DIVERSITY
12030 Iredell Street, Studio City, California 91604
Tel: (818) 753-1090 - Fax: (818) 763-0240
Web site: http://www.tazzla.org

P R E S S   R E L E A S E


The following Press Release is an English translation by Helene Hagan, President of Tazzla Institute, of a document released by the Federal Council (Legislative Body) of the Amazigh World Congress, (CMA) on April 21, 2002, at the conclusion of its annual meeting held on April 12th and April 13th in Agadir, Morocco.

During this meeting, attention was particularly focused on several grave situations which prevail throughout most of Tamazgha, the Amazigh territory of North Africa.


Morocco

The situation for the Amazigh people of Morocco is still one of oppression and economic marginalization. In this country, it is a pan-Arabic minority which detains the monopoly of economic and political power. An arabo-islamic ideology is imposed upon the Amazigh-speaking majority whose identity is ignored, denied and obstructed.

The last Royal Speech concerning the recognition of the Amazigh identity of Moroccans had raised some hopes that the centuries of injustices suffered by Imazighen would at last come to an end. The decision by the King to create a Royal Institute of Amazigh Culture, which seemed to be a step in the right direction, was a mere gesture. Unfortunately, we observe that pan-Arabic, basically anti-Amazigh personalities were appointed to the direction of this institution, and that, several months after its creation, this organization still has no roof. We are therefore led to think that this decision was not founded on any desire to make room for an Amazigh identity in Morocco, but simply served as another tactic to brake and divide the Amazigh civil movement which continues to gain in momentum.

In less spectacular forms, repression in Morocco is no less efficient than in Algeria. Amazigh militants of cultural associations are systematically restrained by interdictions, intimidation and threats on the part of the Moroccan agents of government. Most of the cultural activities of Amazigh associations are arbitrarily proscribed. The Amazigh student movement is particularly under surveillance and recently a peaceful protest in Errachidia was violently terminated.

In several regions, notably in the southeast and south of the country, Moroccan governmental authorities attempt to appropriate ancestral Amazigh lands in order to build touristic complexes or princely palaces. Under the pretext that the people who live on these lands do not hold deeds of property to their fields, authorities declare that these lands are State properties. The Amazigh World Congress protests against such arbitrary land theft and practices which aim at damaging further the already precarious conditions under which these rural populations live.

The CMA reaffirms its support of the Amazigh civil movement in Morocco and declares that a statute of autonomy for several regions, such as the Rif, the Atlas, the Souss, Tafilalt, constitutes a way toward the restitution of Sovereignty to Amazigh people. Given this state of affairs, the CMA recommends to all Moroccan citizens to reject all forthcoming electoral proceedings until the creation of a true state of law in the land of Morocco and the full recognition of an effective Amazigh identity is inserted in the Constitution of Morocco.

Finally, the CMA denounces the use by Spain and its armed forces of a highly toxic gas during the Rif War, and reserves the right to legally pursue the Spanish government to obtain reparation.

Algeria.

This session of the Federal Council of the World Amazigh Congress is particularly concerned by the tragedy which has affected the region of Kabylia for a year. After stating a vibrant homage to all the martyrs of the 2001 Black Spring, to all victims of this tragedy, and all those men and women who continue the civil struggle of Algeria, members of the CF stressed anew the continuous support of CMA of the democratic and peaceful civil movement of Kabylia. Along with this support, the CF denounced with utmost vigor the murderous Algerian Mafia in power, whose methods of repression (assassinations, kidnaps, punitive raids, violations of homes, arrests, condemnations to death, etc.) sadly recall those of colonial occupation.

For the past few weeks, independent journalists who have covered the drama unfolding in Kabylia in a professional manner have been harassed and threatened by police. Every citizen, organization and institution upholding rights to life and the dignity of human life must today more than ever oppose the Algerian state power, and demand that it immediately cease its acts of violence and hatred, its intimidation and provocation of our people, and the grave injustices that it perpetrates on its civilian population. The Algerian government must free, without any condition whatsoever, its political prisoners from Kabylia, and satisfy fully and completely the socio-economic, democratic, linguistic and cultural demands expressed in the Platform of El Kseur.

For the World Amazigh Congress, the recently declared constitutionalization of Tamazight as "National Language," without content or timetable, is but another of many mystifications aiming at the manipulation of public opinion and the quelling of international pressure. The Head of the Algerian State is a champion at double talk. He gave the illusion to have satisfied all civil demands, while effectively ordering the set-up of measures which he believes to be the "ultimate phase" in the pacification of Kabylia. These measures constitute the full and systematic deployment of a total and bloody dictatorship. Large reinforcement troops, selected for their efficient ferocity, have been sent to Kabylia since mid-March, sowing anew death and desolation among civil populations.

In the face of such a war declared upon a democratic and peaceful Kabylia, the World Amazigh Congress resolutely stands by the side of the civil movement of the Aarchs, (Traditional Elders) and support its injunction to reject the next elections of Algeria.

The CMA also urgently requests that democratic nations, particularly those of Europe, and international organizations everywhere, adopt without delay economic and diplomatic sanctions against the Algerian government.

The Twareg Question.

In Twareg territory, the situation is still of grave concern. In Mali, the army continues operations, notably in the region of Azawad, under pretense of ridding it of bandits, while the first victims of these operations are peaceful populations of Twaregs.

We must remind international opinion that the State of Mali has never ceased to follow non-legal executions of Twareg populations in spite of the signature of the National Pact between the Twareg Resistance Movement and the Government of Mali.

The same situation prevails in Niger where the compliance to the Peace Accords is limited to the question of security. Neither the procedures of regionalization and de-centralization, nor the economic development clauses stipulated by the Peace Accords are in effect.

In Mali and Niger, the thousands of Twareg civilians who have been massacred with impunity in the last few years have fallen into oblivion and official amnesia. The CMA pledges to bring "The Twareg Question" to the attention of all international instances and organizations for Human Rights, and to request their action in support of Twareg resistance vis--vis the states of Mali and Niger. The aim is to obtain full compliance to their promises as stipulated in the Peace Accords signed by these states.

CMA reiterates in this occasion its unfailing support of the principle of self-determination adopted by Twareg People seeking the establishment of their legitimate rights to assume their own destiny.

Canary Islands.

Throughout the Archipelago of the Canary Islands, the laws of emigration followed by the Spanish government are ones of hispanization by favoring entry of Spanish and other European emigrants. In the last ten years, 90% of emigrants to the Canary Islands have been Spanish or Europeans, while only 2.8% of North Africans (or Africans) have been admitted within borders. This latter category is the target of racism and xenophobia.

The CMA expresses its total solidarity with the Canarian Movement and its demands for new laws of emigration. CMA also denounces the economic rape of the islands by Spain. Colossal revenues generated by over 14 million tourists are forwarded each year to Spanish coffers.

Culturally, the Amazigh autochthonous ancestral heritage of the Guanche is evoked by the Spanish authorities only as local folklore to attract those tourists. Amazigh associations are presently at work to renew and re-appropriate the ancestral Canarian cultural identity. To help our brothers and sisters of the Archipelago, the CMA encourages the development of exchanges between Canarian and Amazigh associations throughout Tamazgha and the Diaspora.

Tunisia and Libya.

Thousands of Tamazight speakers of Tunisia, from the north to the south, are living witnesses to the vitality of our language and culture and the silent resistance of our people despite a ferocious repression. Amazigh citizens of Tunisia only dare express themselves in their native language in the privacy of their homes.

Libya practices the same type of linguistic and cultural genocide toward Amazigh identity. The right to assemble or form associations does not exist there, and anyone who dares publicly express his Amazigh identity is punishable by death, imprisonment or forced exile.

As to Siwa, lone Oasis in Egyptian territory, its entire population is Amazigh (in an otherwise Arabic country) and suffers from isolation in relation to the rest of the Amazigh world, with a standard of life esteemed at the lowest in the world.

(Section on Europe not included in this translation)

The Third World Amazigh Congress will take place on the 29, 30, and 31 of August 2002 in Roubaix-Lille, France. We hope that it will forge another step toward the concretization of the legitimate hopes of our Amazigh People.

In Agadir, Morocco, April 13th, 2002 Federal Council - World Amazigh Congress

 

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