KABYLIA (TAMURT) – At this time of year when we should be celebrating the New Year, we Kabyles and more generally Imaziɣen, instead are moping. I think of those who have been whisked away by the human crushing machine that the regime of Algiers has become. I think of all the mothers, fathers, spouses, children, parents who are going through the ordeal.
If I am not speaking of the persecution of the detainees and the horrors of detention that they endure for months, even years, before being released, it is because I do not want to forget these families who suffer in silence. They are scrambling, heartbroken and helpless, to free their children. They do scramble, because the system jails or tries their children in distant cities precisely to make them suffer and prevent any support from civil society. Therefore, if the first injustice is to put a citizen or an activist in prison for having exercised their free speech, the other injustice is to harshly punish this society, to muzzle it and condemn it to live in misery. Arbitrary justice, absurd sentences are the lot of many families. Torturing a society in this way will leave it with scars which will take a very long time to heal or which may not heal at all.
As you can see, they are not only destroying the activist, but a whole society. Those among us for whom the memory of the roundups and torture practiced by the French army is still vivid, must say to themselves that this country is doomed. Colonial violence and that of the war against the colonists left an indelible mark on this country. But this violence which blossomed on the still warm dead bodies of our murdered heroes (Abane, Khider, Krim, Boudiaf, etc.), is an abominable violence. Since our birth, Algeria has only regressed, sacrificed its children, handicapped them and confiscated their future forever. The regression continues to such an extent that one wonders when will we reach the bottom of this pit of misery, violence and absurdity that reign supreme?
It is shameful even to call them “detainees”, because elsewhere they put criminals in prison. Elsewhere, there is something called presumption of innocence. Elsewhere, expression is encouraged, to foster creativity and improve everyday life. Elsewhere, there are complaints that people are not getting involved enough. But, above all, they don’t throw someone in jail for thinking. It is never a crime to think, even about murder. Elsewhere, civic action is encouraged because it fills the gaps and complements government actions. A society that is involved in building its future is a healthy society. In Algeria, people get arrested if they organize a literary café or nurture the young. They get arrested for writing or criticizing, or suggesting solutions. If the diaspora sends surgical masks to a hospital in Kabylia, they refuse them by order of the gendarmerie. Oxygen concentrators are stored at customs because there are people out there to decide where to send them. Yes they know how to decide everything, but there is nothing they can do right! They refuse Canadairs to put out the fires, and instead let the fires ravage everything. In Algeria, it is forbidden to move. Today everyone is keeping a low profile for fear of ending up in jail. The silence is total, so is oppression!
Elsewhere, there is an independent judiciary that refuses the regime’s zealous minions and corrupt opportunists to abuse their power. Elsewhere, it is not a crime to express one’s opinion and pretrial detention is not handed left and right. Not in Algeria. In Algeria, prosecutors and judges themselves are zealous stooges. Those who are exceptions will forgive me for this. They are no longer at their posts, because the regime is vigilant. Thus, the black robes of judges are not indicative of competence in the service of justice, but rather of enslavement to the system. Black robes or black hoods, in Algeria, it’s the same thing!
In Algeria, we do not put criminals in prison, it is the criminals who put innocent people in prison. And not just any innocent people. irreproachable people, people who think and who have the courage to pull their society towards a better future. Djaouts, Harouns, Matoubs and rebels who should be thanked for being at the forefront of the struggles for democracy and freedom.
During this Yennayer, which should normally be the holiday of hope, of renewal, my Kabylia is hurting. How can I celebrate it when hundreds of my innocent brothers spend it in cold cells? I am hurting at my Kabylia, which has become the scape goat of the Arab-Islamist regime of Algiers. My Kabylia is pushed a little more towards its death every day. They programmed all the imaginable deaths for it: they murder its young people, they push it into exodus, they starve it, they assimilate it, they Arabize it and re-Islamize it. They abandon it during covid-19, they deny it oxygen, burn it, then throw its cream of the crop in prison. They assault it repeatedly, and set up abominable scenarios for it. They point to it for popular vindictiveness. In Algeria, being Kabyle is a flaw. To declare oneself to be Kabyle, to have the Kabyle accent lands you in jail. In short, in Algeria, Kabylia is being killed, and the the silence surrounding its death is deafening.
Mastan At Uamran