Hasan Id Balkassm, Leila Ben M'Charek, Saoudata Aboubacrine

Hassan Id Balkassm, Amazigh
Member, United Nations
Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

Leila Ben M'Charek
 Mâitre-assistant d'Anglais
Faculté des Lettres de Kairouan, Tunis

Saoudata Aboubacrine
Tin Hinan
Tuareg, Burkina Faso, West Africa


I come from Morocco. I'm a Berber and I have a few things to say as a contribution. So you know that for Indigenous People there is no constitutional recognition as regards the languages that we speak. There is no constitutional recognition or international recognition in the form of a universal declaration. We have a number of international conventions that may be used as references, so as regards the information society, of course it requires employment, health, education that we, the Indigenous People do not have access to all of these facilities.

In Northern Africa there are the Berbers, in Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and these peoples, these Indigenous Peoples are not recognized by the constitutions of the various countries in which they live, in terms of their language, what their language is rather. They are not recognized and of course this gives rise to very significant difficulties for us, these languages for this reason have not evolved and the users seem extremely frustrated. The information which this Summit has been talking about, the decision to create a forum of digital solidarity and a follow-up forum as well, we do believe that the Indigenous Peoples should be able to contribute to this solidarity fund or should be able to benefit from the solidarity fund. We also believe that it will be possible only to build an information society that is fair and just, only if we recognized at the international level the various languages, cultures of the Indigenous Peoples in the form of a universal declaration. So we want full recognition in the various countries in which we live; of our rights, of our culture, of our language and also at the international level.

There exists an international convention, Convention 169, on the rights of Indigenous Populations, which is part of a process within the International Labour Organization in Arab, Arabic, French and English and which speaks of Indigenous Populations, and clans and tribes - and considers that one of the main criterion to defining such communities is the "self" definition. In other words communities that put themselves forward as being indigenous. In the region which I live in North Africa, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, the Berbers are the local populations for thousands of years. They have their own culture, their history. But the realization…or when the countries became independent, did not take into account the importance of this cultural heritage.

And so for internet, or an internet user, it is our children who need to be educated, learning our Amazigh language, of teaching our children our language. And this in order to develop a greater awareness amongst our children as to the importance of language, culture, identity and of the clan or the peoples to which they belong. Today the Berber language is not used on internet, so Berber children feel excluded from all that the internet can provide, whereas for other populations those using say Russian, they have an easier access to information and can use ICTs whereas it's not the case for our children in our Berber populations.