Tag Archive: Amazigh Land of Algeria

January 15, 2018

Algeria’s doctors have continued their strike until further notice following a week of protests in the country after a sit-in calling for better working conditions in the capital Algiers was dispersed violently by authorities.

The national office of the Autonomous Collective of Algerian Resident Doctors (CAMRA) said in a statement that its demands were discussed with the Minister of Health, Mokhtar Hasbellaoui.

The national CAMRA office said on Saturday that the national representatives of the group held its third meeting with Hasbellaoui in which the compulsory civil and military services were discussed.

A number of terms were agreed to by the Ministry of Health “verbally”, according to CAMRA which include more flexibility during civil service, the right to housing and transportation access and better training.

The Ministry of Health has reportedly not taken any decision yet on the lifting of compulsory civil service which doctors are expected to work following their graduation, for 4-5 years, and sent to remote places in the country with poor facilities and living conditions.

Hasbellaoui informed strikers that he had met with Deputy Defense Minister Gaid Salah to discuss the compulsory military service for men, promising a report as soon as possible.

He blamed hospital and health directors for the deterioration of the medical residents’ situation and deferred any responsibility for the recent demonstrations in the country’s main cities.

The Minister of Health also called on the Directors of Public Health to do all they can to benefit resident doctors so that they perform their civil service in the best conditions.

Last week, protest marches and solidarity sit-ins were organised by resident doctors in several regions in Algeria to make their voices heard and bring their demands to the country’s highest authorities.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180115-algeria-doctors-union-extends-strikes/.



By Lamine Ghanmi – Tunis

Algeria will become the first North African coun­try to celebrate the Ber­ber new year as a na­tional public holiday. The move signals a major shift in identity politics, which had been dominated by strife and tensions between the government in Algiers and most of the Berber-speaking population in the restive north-eastern Kabylie region.

Berber activists hailed Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s de­cision making the Berber new year day, Yennayer, a public holiday as the crowning achievement of a his­toric struggle and a victory against what they described as Algeria’s “cultural tyranny of Arabism and Arab Ba’athism.” The holiday will be on January 12 this year.

“Who would believe that under the leadership of this president, who had declared with an arro­gant and threatening tone that Tamazight will never be recognized as an official language, that this laguage would be enshrined in the constitution as a national and offi­cial language and Yennayer would be declared a national holiday and paid day off for all Algerians?” asked Ali Ait Djoudi, a veteran activist from the Berber Cultural Move­ment, in a message on social media.

Algerian writer Amin Zaoui said: “At last, Algerians are reconciling slowly with their history, their an­cestors and their identity.”

“There is a long way to climb the path of Lalla Dihya Kahena, Juba, Apulee, Massinissa and others,” he added, naming historical figures known for defense of Berber iden­tity and territory.

Algerian writer Kamel Daoud said: “The decision to make Yen­nayer a national holiday was to be hailed because it would help, over the long run, heal deep wounds and harvest fruits in the future.”

Analysts said Bouteflika an­nounced the recognition of the Berber holiday before the 12th an­niversary of the implementation of the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation to strengthen social and political stability ahead of the presidential election next year.

The charter, proposed by Boutef­lika to end the civil war by offering amnesty for most acts of violence committed in the conflict pitting Islamist jihadists and the military, was endorsed by a referendum in 2005 and implemented in February 2006.

The conflict broke out in Decem­ber 1991 after the army-backed gov­ernment scrapped elections radi­cal Islamists were poised to win. It claimed the lives of an estimated 200,000 people, mostly civilians killed by Islamists.

“The decision over Yennayer came in these moments of doubts and multiple crises. It reinforces the cohesion of the nation by putting an end to unnecessary misunderstand­ings that are the result of a govern­ance that lacked farsightedness and anticipation,” said Algerian writer Brahim Tazaghart.

It followed the recognition of the Berber language as an official and national language alongside Arabic.

“It is a historic and bold decision by President Bouteflika. It ends the dictatorship and obscurantism of the Ba’athist culture, which hurts us each day by brandishing its rac­ist concept of the Arab nation and spawning hatred within society and undermining the nation’s unity,” said Algerian MP Khaled Tazaghart from the Future Front party, an op­position group.

Language and culture issues go to the heart of Algeria’s identity. It has been a determining factor in rela­tions with other countries.

The French colonial authorities banned Arabic in primary schools in Algeria, dismissing it as a backward language. After independence, in 1962, nationalist leaders adopted an Arabisation policy to undo the lin­guistic legacy of 132 years of French occupation. Towards that end, they recruited thousands of teachers from Egypt and Syria to fill positions left by fleeing French teachers.

However, most of the Egyptian and Syrian teachers were members of the Muslim Brotherhood fleeing crackdowns by Arab national­ist leaders in Cairo and Damascus. Their massive presence in the edu­cation system sparked a backlash in parts of Algeria, especially in Berber-speaking areas, against what was perceived as Arab domination with claims that the Arab teachers had turned Algerian schools into “factories churning out fanatical Psalmists.”

The spread of Arabic influenced the Berbers for centuries, including from the 15th century and through the 17th century when Arabisation of Berbers was accelerated by waves of Andalusian refugees expelled from Spain.

Berbers maintained their tradi­tions, dialects and rituals even after accepting Islam as a religion, mainly in Morocco and Algeria. Their total number in the two countries is esti­mated at 28 million.

Gradually, Algeria has met the de­mands of advocates of Berber cul­ture and language.

A Berber uprising involving a school boycott in Kabylie region in 1995 by parents protesting that their children could speak but not write in their native language led Algerian officials to introduce the Tamazight language into primary education.

In 2002, the government recognized the language as a national one following a deadly protest. The lan­guage was recognized as a national and official language, on equal foot­ing with Arabic, in 2016.

Berber activists have called on the Algerian government to allocate funding to the promotion and the use of their language. Thousands took to the streets in December to back such a demand.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=86693.

January 3, 2018

Algerian police prevented doctors from taking part in a protest outside the Mustafa Pasha Hospital in Algiers on Wednesday. The protesters’ demand include improved working conditions in the country’s hospitals and for the government to reconsider compulsory civil service.

The National Association of Independent Medical Practitioners organized the demonstration outside the hospital before the doctors tried to take their protest beyond the hospital grounds and into the streets. That is when they were blocked by the security forces.

A number of protesters were injured in the scuffles and arrested.

Over the past two years pharmacy, dental and medical students have taken part in a number of protests, sit-ins and hunger strikes demanding better services from the Ministry of Health and better prospects once they graduate. Many are forced to work in poor conditions with few employment rights and, despite promises from the Ministry to provide better services, the government has done little to improve the situation.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180103-police-clash-with-doctors-protesting-in-algiers/.

December 29, 2017

The Algerian Administration will be able to organize electronic elections as early as 2022, the interior ministry announced yesterday.

“We will be ready as an administration, to organize electronic elections, from the legislative elections of 2022,” Noureddine Bedoui said in an interview with Radio Algerie Internationale.

Bedoui further added that “2017 was the year of elections par excellence through the two important deadlines that were legislative and local”, he welcomed the “constitutional deadlines after disturbances in the past that have had negative results both nationally and internationally.”

However the election turnout since 2007 has been very poor with only a 30 per cent participation rate in some of the elections due to large distrust in the process and many instances of election fraud that have taken place.

In this light, the government is looking for ways to prevent the fraudulent process by adopting electronic elections. Regarding the criticism, according to Bedoui, measures adopted this year have allowed for a cleaner election and the removal of 1,300,000 names from the electorate owing to death or “multiple registrations”.

This year’s elections “were held in good conditions”, Bedoui said, adding that they allowed “the new constitutional values ??from the amended Constitution, namely democracy, freedom of expression, opinion and the press as well as the consolidation of the citizen’s place and all the legal conditions gathered through the revision of the electoral code.”

As well as the creation of the Municipal People’s Assemblies and Wilayas (APC / APW) in monitoring local elections, Bedoui added that more work is needed “in terms of support for new elected officials in terms of training and necessary instructions for local development and the creation of wealth on the basis of local potentialities”.

Bedoui praised the work done by the Independent High Electoral Monitoring Body (HIISE) this year and confirmed an evaluation of its work will take place to further improve the electoral system.

Algeria’s ruling National Liberation Front party won legislative elections held in May this year though with decreased support compared to previous years. The election was marred by claims of fraud and only 35 per cent of Algerians voted in the election as many had little faith in the ballot box aligning their affairs and believed the outcome of the vote had already been decided.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171229-algeria-to-introduce-electronic-elections-in-2022/.

December 28, 2017

The Berber New Year of Yennayer will be recognized as a national holiday in Algeria for the first time on 12 January, it was announced yesterday.

The Council of Ministers met yesterday with President of the Republic, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, and issued a statement announcing the new national holiday.

“By offering his best wishes to the Algerian people on the eve of the year 2018, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has announced his decision to devote Yennayer as a day off and paid as of January 12, the government being responsible for making the appropriate arrangements for this effect.”

The head of state “urged the government to spare no effort to generalize the teaching and use of Tamazight, in accordance with the letter and the spirit of the Constitution” and also instructed the government to accelerate the preparation of the draft law establishing an Algerian Academy of the Amazigh Language, according to the Council’s statement.

The idea behind this latest move is to strengthen “national unity and stability” at a time when the country faces threats from “multiple internal and regional challenges”, the President said.

In the last few weeks, Algeria’s Berber region has witnessed a number of protests after a proposed draft law making the Berber language compulsory in schools across the country was blocked by parliamentarians.

Tamazight was recognized as an official language of Algeria when the Constitution was amended in 2016.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171228-algeria-sets-berber-new-year-as-public-holiday/.

December 1, 2017

The African Union has chosen Algeria as the coordinator of its counterterrorism strategy. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his country were named by the chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki, in an official announcement made in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on Thursday.

Faki said that Algeria was chosen because of its “pioneering experience” in this area and its effective policy to combat extremism. “All African countries could follow Algeria’s experience in the fight against terrorism,” he added.

The AU official congratulated Algeria and President Bouteflika for their efforts in coordinating the bloc’s efforts towards preventing and combating terrorism.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171201-african-union-chooses-algeria-as-counterterrorism-coordinator/.

November 30, 2017

Algeria has joined Iran, Syria and Iraq and refused to join the Saudi-led Muslim Military Alliance, The Algeria Daily reported on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia leads two alliances including one against Houthi rebels in Yemen in addition to the Muslim Military Alliance.

While Saudi Arabia and its allies brand Lebanese Hezbollah and Houthi rebels in Yemen as terrorist organizations, Algeria does not agree with this position and maintains relations with Saudi Arabia at the same time with its rival, Iran.

The newspaper reported retired Algerian Colonel, Abdul Hamid Al-Sharif as saying that the alliance is an alliance of aggression that represents the conflicts of interests raging in the region which Algeria refuses to be part of.

Meanwhile, security expert, Ahmad Azimi said in a statement that the Muslim Military Alliance does not mean anything to Algeria because the member states are under Western influence.

“If the goal of the alliance is to liberate and defend Arab countries then we welcome it, but if it aims to attack Muslim countries then Algeria cannot be part of its”.

Saudi Arabia announced on December 14, 2015 the formation of the Anti- Terrorism Muslim Military Alliance with the participation of 41 countries, including Turkey, Pakistan, Malaysia and Egypt.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171130-algeria-refuses-to-join-saudi-led-muslim-military-alliance/.


ALGIERS – Selembouha Dadi can only imagine the homeland she dreams of but has never seen, agonizingly out of reach beyond the Algerian refugee camp where she has spent her whole life.

“They tell me it was beautiful,” the 25-year-old said.

The territory that Dadi yearns for is Western Sahara, a sprawling swathe of desert on Africa’s Atlantic coast that has been disputed by Morocco and independence fighters from the Polisario Front for decades.

Her father Moulay abandoned everything and fled 42 years ago when Moroccan troops arrived in 1975 during the rush to claim the former Spanish colony as Madrid let it go.

Now, along with tens of thousands of other refugees, their family of nine lives in one of a string of refugee camps just 50 kilometers (30 miles) away, beyond the Algerian border and a “defense wall” erected by Morocco in the 1980s.

Morocco and Mauritania were meant to share Western Sahara when Spain relinquished control, but in 1976 the Polisario proclaimed the independence of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic — and was determined to fight for it.

Mauritania in 1979 gave up its claim, leaving Morocco to seize most of the 266,000 square kilometer (100,000 square mile) territory, but it was not until 1991 that a UN-backed ceasefire came into force.

Rabat considers Western Sahara an integral part of Morocco and proposes autonomy for the resource-rich territory, but the Algerian-backed Polisario Front insists on a United Nations-backed referendum on independence.

The 2,700-kilometer barrier erected by Morocco slicing from north to south divides the 80 percent of Western Sahara controlled by Morocco from the 20 percent held by the Polisario.

– ‘Left everything behind’ –

Moulay Dadi, 72, served tea in a large traditional tent, a vestige of the Sahrawis’ nomadic past, and cooler than the nearby family cottage with its zinc roof.

He recalled his life back in his desert homeland herding the family’s animals. He was 30 when the Moroccan forces arrived.

“We fled and we left everything behind us, our animals, our property, the houses,” he said.

“We left everything behind us.”

He settled in Algeria’s Tindouf region with his wife and parents, who did not live to see their homeland again.

Some 100,000 Sahrawi refugees live today in the camps around Tindouf. They belong to a mosaic of nomadic tribes who have for centuries plied the sandy expanses of the Sahara with their camels.

The Dadi family’s Boujdour camp, which, like the other camps, bears the name of an area of the Western Sahara controlled by Morocco, is dotted with brown-walled houses the color of the surrounding desert, one of the most inhospitable in the world.

Their home consists of a large living room, a small dining room and a kitchen. The shower and toilets are in a separate building.

There is intermittent electricity and no running water. Trucks pass regularly to fill a large canvas water reservoir.

Like the Dadis, many Sahrawis have set up traditional tents next to their houses in the camp, where life moves slowly.

After the morning prayer, Selembouha Dadi and her mother, in her sixties, cook and clean.

The youngest of the children, 12-year-old Mellah, goes to school.

Some of her brothers work on building sites and the others are in the army of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.

Sahrawi refugees in Algeria live mostly on funds from exiled relatives in Europe and on international aid.

The European Union provides some, $11.6 million (10 million euros) a year, despite the Polisario Front being accused of embezzlement in recent years.

Some residents have set up small shops — groceries, bakeries, fruit and vegetable stalls — in the camps.

Others work as officials for the SADR, which has its central administration in Rabouni, not far from Tindouf.

Isolated for decades and largely forgotten by the world, many Sahrawis still believe that they will one day return to the lands of their ancestors.

“We want our land whatever we find there,” Selembouha said.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=85763.

October 7, 2017

The collective of the families of the disappeared in Algeria (CFDA) and SOS Disparu launched the “Days against forgetting” campaign this week to mark the 12th anniversary of the National Reconciliation charter deal that ended the 1990’s civil war.

The campaign marked a week of meetings in which the families of the disappeared called for justice for their loved ones who disappeared during the civil war.

At a press conference held this week at the headquarters of the Front des Forces Socialistes (FFS) in Algiers, CDFA spokesperson Nacera Dutour, President of the Djazairouna Association Cherifa Kheddar, founding member of the collective SOS Disparus, Hacene Ferhati, and a mother of a missing person, Fatma-Zohra Boucherf, met to call on the Algerian government to do more to unveil the extent of the disappearances during the Black Decade and to highlight the threats against the victims who have campaigned tirelessly for the truth.

“We have faced several amnesties during the black decade and we continue to suffer the consequences,” Dutour explained citing the Reconciliation Charter decreed in 1995 by President Liamine Zeroual which was the foundation for the referendum of the Civil Concord in 1999 and the Charter in 2005 both initiated by current president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Boucherf affirmed Dutour’s comments on the Charter adding that it “advocates the forgetting and the silence of the victims”.

According to Boucherf, whose son has been missing for the last 25 years, the “Charter asks us to forget our children and turn the page” as “President Bouteflika wished in 1999, when he declared that our children were not in his pockets.”

The criticism of the Civil Concord is mainly driven by its foundation which prioritizes “impunity and forgetting” as oppose to coming to terms with the atrocities committed during the war and bringing those complicit to justice. Article 46 of the Concord which “threatens to imprison the victims who refuse to remain silent” is what the collective have been campaigning against in getting closer to knowing what happened during the war.

“We want to know what happened, how we got there, why an Algerian killed an Algerian, why did government agents kidnap Algerians. They are asking us to turn the page but every Algerian has the right to know its history,” Boucherf concluded.

Kheddar added that not only are the victims of terrorism and enforced disappearances ignored but also condemned to prison in punishment for their demands. “Apparently, all those who have not carried weapons or committed crime cannot benefit from this Charter,” she said.

The civil war began after democratic elections in the country were cancelled by the army after it became apparent that the Islamic Salvation Front would win a majority.

It would last ten brutal years, with depraved levels of violence recorded towards the latter part by both the military and secret services and militant groups guilty of senseless violence and massacres.

Around 200,000 Algerians would perish in the war, 18,000 would disappear and one million forced to leave the country.  The Concord and subsequent Charter would allow for many government agents to walk free due to the offered impunity which meant that no one was brought to justice over the atrocities in a desperate attempt to move on from the damaging war.

Kheddar renewed calls to propose an alternative charter to integrate new demands but the calls have remained unanswered by Algerian authorities. The National Charter Commission on the National Reconciliation has also not taken on the victims’ demands.

“Twelve years later, we are unaware of what this commission has become, what it has done, if it has contacted the victims,” she continued.

The government’s recent decision to broadcast graphic images and videos from the civil war for the first time on Algerian TV has been viewed as a scare tactic by the victims in keeping them silent. “They will strike us, beat us or scare us,” Boucherf said, because they are “afraid of the truth”.

As the country takes a turn for the worst due to its current economic woes and the government attempts to ease in reforms, public assurances in the government is running low.

By broadcasting images from the civil war the government hopes to remind Algerians of the face of terrorism and how placing their hopes in an alternative is likely to force the country into the same type of violence during the Black Decade.

One of the founding members of SOS Disparus also reiterated how the figures put forward in the past by Mustapha Farouk Ksentini, the former president of the National Consultative Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (CNCPPDH), have been much lower than the numbers of victims who have come forward, adding to the authority’s culpability in not adequately investigating the disappearances.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171007-algerians-continue-fight-for-justice-for-victims-of-the-black-decade/.

June 15, 2017

Co-founder of Algeria’s Islamic Salvation Front, Sheikh Ali Belhadj, has criticized the siege imposed by a number of Gulf and Arab countries on Qatar.

In an interview with Quds Press, Belhadj strongly criticized the involvement of Islamic institutions and using them to achieve political purposes against the State of Qatar.

“The involvement of the Muslim World League, with the aim of gaining legitimacy for the siege against Qatar, is an insult to this institution and to the teachings of Islam which refuse such behavior in the holy month of Ramadan,” he said.

The Muslim World League should have remained neutral towards this dispute and sought to heal the rift instead of involving itself in such a way.

Belhadj pointed out that Qatar is not the target of the blockade, but the aim is to strike every Arab or Islamic country that wants to support the oppressed or the Palestinian cause.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170615-algerias-belhadj-slams-boycott-of-qatar/.