Received 23 April 2002
Amazigh (Berber), MOROCCO
Helene E. Hagan
President, Tazzla Institute for Cultural Diversity
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.
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.
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
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-à-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
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.
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
In Agadir, Morocco, April 13th, 2002 Federal Council - World Amazigh