Algeria dismisses Kabylie independence movement, Rachad Islamists as terrorists

Algeria dismisses Kabylie independence movement, Rachad Islamists as terrorists

After accusing them of connivance with foreign powers and plotting attacks, the Algerian regime moved to list Kabylie independence group MAK and Political Islam movement Rachad as terrorist groups.

The decision was taken by President Abdelmejid Tebboune, reflecting a tougher stance within the regime for all sorts of dissent.

Both MAK and Rachad have gained traction recently as Algerian street retrieves the momentum of pro-democracy protests demanding a clean break with a military regime ruling behind a civilian curtain in an inefficient and corrupt system.

Last month, the aged military commanders issued a statement accusing the secular independence movement of planning attacks in order to trigger a crackdown by authorities and use it to gain international support.

In a video, MAK chief in exile Ferhat Mhenni had then denied the accusation and said that the military rule is attempting to intimidate MAK activists.

He stressed the peaceful character of the movement and its rejection of all sorts of violence as well as its attachment to an independent Kabylie state.

In their attempt to crackdown on Hirak activists, human rights defenders, and journalists Algerian authorities have lately started using terrorism-related legislation to silence their voices and suppress their activism.

Some 15 Hirak activists have already been charged with recruiting mercenaries on behalf of a foreign power, inciting citizens against the authority of the State, which carries the death penalty, conspiracy against state security, and enrolment in a terrorist or subversive organization active abroad or in Algeria.

This new desperate attempt to sow fear among Algerians by waving the card of terrorism and dismissing the Hirak as a movement instigated by the enemies of Algeria has once again failed to convince.

The Algerian regime has previously tried using its statements and media propaganda to discredit the Hirak as a Moroccan conspiracy.

The aging and ailing regime has also tried in vain to taint the Hirak as a protest movement serving Islamic extremists and terrorists.

The army’s dirty play is fooling nobody. Triggering painful memories of the black decade did not thwart the Hirak movement from gaining traction after a halt imposed by the pandemic.

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 2001 bloody events in which 125 youth were killed triggered the birth of the movement for the self-determination of the Kabylie region (known by its French acronym MAK) which continues to gain ground 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 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.

Human Rights Watch, EuroMed Rights, Amnesty International, and Front Line Defenders have condemned in the strongest terms Algeria’s discrimination against the Amazigh (Berber) minority and called for dropping all charges against the detained activists.

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