February 15, 2013 Special Dispatch No. 5188

Libyan National Amazigh Congress Warns Libyan Government: We Have Exhausted All Peaceful Means, We Cannot Tolerate Further Humiliation

February 15, 2013
Libya | Special Dispatch No. 5188

On the eve of the second anniversary of the Libyan revolution against the Qadhafi regime, the Libyan National Amazigh Congress (LNAC) threatened violence against the Libyan government. The Amazigh (Berber) people in Libya are still facing discrimination from the government, despite the key role they played in ousting Qadhafi. In a February 8, 2013 communiqué, the LNAC stressed that since it and the Libyan Amazigh people respected Libya's national unity and territorial integrity and were eager to avoid harm to innocent Libyan citizens, they had until now utilized every peaceful and civilized means to demand their just and legitimate rights; however, today they could not tolerate further humiliation and might therefore "resort to the use of force in response to these racist and odious [discriminatory] practices."

The LNAC states that the two interim prime ministers since the revolution – Abdurrahim El-Keib and Ali Zaidan – as well as the chairman of the former National Transitional Council (NTC), Mustafa Abdul Jalil, bear "full legal, moral, and religious responsibility for the alarming consequences which will result from these institutionalized racist practices against the Libyan Amazigh people." In 2011, Libyan Amazigh spokesmen complained that the Amazigh lacked representation in the interim government despite their role in the revolution.[1] The government indeed failed to include a single Amazigh minister. For this reason, the LNAC called on all Libyans, and especially the Amazigh, to halt cooperation with the NTC and with the interim government.[2]

The LNAC has also complained that the Tamazight language of the Libyan Amazigh is absent from the new Libyan passports and currency.

In a recent interview, LNAC head Fathi Bouzakhar, formerly a well-known opponent of the Qadhafi regime, accused PM Ali Zaidan of "leading a racist government which follows in the footsteps of Dr. Al-Keib. He shows respect for armed groups, but he seems to hold the Amazigh people in contempt because they continue to act in a civilized manner. However, we are issuing a warning that if the Amazigh people explode it will be a serious disaster which will sweep Ali Zaidan and his government from Libya's political life. The Amazigh people will continue to unite in the face of any danger that may compromise their rights."[3]

The following are excerpts from an English version of the LNAC's February 8, 2013 communiqué, as published on the Amazigh website[4]

Image: LNAC Facebook page

"The Libyan National Amazigh Congress notes the following...

"1. The rampant racist and discriminatory actions undertaken by the tyrant Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi against the Libyan Amazigh people continue to be instigated deliberately, methodically and institutionally by the two Libyan interim prime ministers [Al-Keib and Ali Zaidan]...

"2. This is a clear violation, both morally and legally, of Libya's obligations following the 17 February revolution regarding the assertion of human rights and the implementation of its international obligations in conformity with the international human rights norms. These are the obligations which the highest authorities of the country pledged to honor at the relevant international gatherings.

Tripoli, November 2011: Berbers protest in front the prime minister's office demanding greater representation in the government

"3. The prime ministers of the two interim governments and the speaker of the former NTC bear the full legal, moral and religious responsibility for the alarming consequences which will result from this racist and institutionalized practices against the Libyan Amazigh people.

New Libyan biometric passport in Arabic and English[6]

"4. [Committed] to Libya's national unity and its territorial integrity and eager to spare the lives of innocent Libyan citizens who suffered terribly during the era of the tyrant and the revolution, the Libyan Amazigh have resorted to every peaceful and civilized means [in] demanding their just and legitimate rights. By now, however, they have exhausted all such means and are no longer capable of suffering further humiliation, particularly [considering] their key role in eliminating the dictator and freeing Libyans from injustice and tyranny.

Libyan women waving the Libyan flag and the flag of the Amazigh people[7]

"5. [We] forcefully stress that the Libyan Amazigh people, who played a decisive role in the battle to liberate Libya from the tyrant, are capable of resorting to the use of force to respond to these racist and odious practices, and that they see all other options as legitimate in defend[ing] their human dignity and their natural rights which are being denied them.

"6. The aforementioned Libyan officials, and other officials who are in charge of sovereign ministries and administrative institutions, are fully responsible for the consequences of their racist and discriminatory practices against the Libyan Amazigh people.

"7. Libyan civil society organizations, particularly those concerned with asserting human rights, bear part of the national responsibility for failing to show solidarity with their Libyan Amazigh brothers and practically for failing to express such solidarity. Their negative stances can only be seen as openly condoning such racist practices."


[1] AFP, November 23, 2011.

[2], November 26, 2011.

[3], January 22, 2013.

[4], February 11, 2013. The text has been lightly edited for clarity.

[5] Image: Reuters, November 27, 2011.

[6] Image: Libya Herald (Libya), February 8, 2013.

[7] Image: AFP, September 27, 2011.

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