Feeling Insecure, Algeria’s Berbers Look to Set up Own Forces

The Amazigh population (Berbers) in Algeria’s restive Kabylie region are looking to establish their own security forces to protect themselves against the violence and excess of the Algerian law enforcement agents.

The call for setting up a local force was made by head of the movement for the self-determination of Kabylie, Ferhat Mhenni, who lives in exile in France.

The move may signal an end to the peaceful protest by Amazigh activists in Algeria who call on Algiers to cease its discriminatory policy against the Kabylie region, which has been left to impoverishment since independence coupled with repression that took the lives of more than 160 protesters in the black Berber Spring events of 2001.

The movement for the self-determination of Kabylie has over the last few years organized massive marches in the cities and villages of Kabylie demanding independence from Algeria.

The movement was born following the 2001 bloody events and has been growing ever since among the Kabyles in Algeria and in France where a large diaspora lives.

The advocates of Kabylie’s independence invoke a series of grievances their region has witnessed after the independence of Algeria. They blame the Algerian regime for seeking to eradicate their linguistic and cultural particularities by imposing an arabization policy coupled with economic marginalization.

Mhenni has contributed to create a provisional Kabyle government in exile. The movement identifies itself as a pacifist movement seeking autonomy from Algiers as a prelude to founding an independent Kabylie state.

Kabylie independence activists argue that their region has been attached by colonial France to an artificial Algerian state and that their historic leaders who fought for independence from France have been marginalized along with their region in post-independent Algeria.

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