Tunisia: Disappearance of Imazighen


The World Amazigh Congress(CMA) alerts intergovernmental organizations, NGO, friends of the amazigh people and the public opinion in general on the serious infringements with freedoms and the basic rights of the amazigh of Tunisia.In this country where the amazighophones account for approximately 10% of the total population, the amazighe identity is completely denied and police terror dissuades any attempt to live and claim it collectively.
The amazigh term is completely prohibited and the “Berber” word – pronounced “barbarian” in Arabic – can only be used in the museums, advertising folders and for folklore intended to the foreign tourists. The amazigh do not have the right to express themself publicly in Tamazighe, neither to meet, nor to create associations or media in their language.

All things considered, they do not have right to exist. According to the Constitution, the Tunisian identity is founded only on the arabity and Islam. Any other assertion or claim, can be qualified by the authorities like an act of treason. Thanks to the police intimidations and repression exerted on a purely “preventive” basis, the Tunisian authorities practise daily an ethnocide against the amazighe populations, forced to silence and identity repression.

This particularly alarming situation does not have sliped out to the vigilance of the Committee of the United Nations for the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which noted for its 62th session of 2003 in Geneva, that the Tunisian State “did not provide information about the Berber population (or amazigh), nor to the measures taken for purposes of the protection and the promotion of the Berber culture and language.

Being given the absence of any mention of this group, the Committee wishes to receive concrete information on this subject and recommends that more attention is given to the situation of Berber as a specific component of the Tunisian population “. Consequently of what, the World Congress Amazigh particularly challenges the 4 candidates with the presidential election in Tunisia on their positions relating to the following points: Official recognition of the amazighe identity, like one of the essential components of the Tunisian identity; The immediate suspension of bans and discriminations which strike the amazigh of this country in the policy, economic, social and cultural fields; Restoration and the promotion of the amazighe identity (history, language and culture) in teaching, media and the public administration.

In front of the voters, the national and international public opinion, the CMA will thus take the effective measurement of the responsibility and the will of each one to build a Tunisian State on the values of freedom, democracy, tolerance and respect of the rights of the human person.

Paris, October 20, 2004 The Office of the CMA.

Translated by emazighen.com

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