Letter to Obama from an American-Amazigh about the Azawad situation

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Mr President,

I, an Amazigh-American, am extremely concerned by the developing situation in the Azawad region of Mali, where the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) is in conflict with the State of Mali. I became even more concerned when I read in the Algerian press that the United States sent arms to help the Malian government crush the “rebellion.

” Two hundred and thirty six years ago, on this great land of ours, a group of people decided to free themselves from British control. Our founding fathers were not terrorists and their armed struggle was not a rebellion. It was called a revolution. The people of Azawad would also like to free themselves from the state of Mali.

The people of Azawad are part and parcel of the Amazigh people who have historically inhabited the entire northern half of the African continent until various invaders and colonialism have scattered them into the harshest corners of this great land. The Tamasheq people (Tuareg) who have occupied the Sahara desert for millennia have been split among at least five countries: Algeria, Mali, Niger, Libya, Burkina Faso. They suffered a great deal at the hands of the French and their territory has been carved and fed to puppet governments that continue to serve those same colonial masters.

The people of Azawad, much like the people of Air in Niger have fought against the policies of the states that colonialism imposed on them. The newly created states have marginalized these populations, exploited their land and treated the local people with contempt, racism and murder. To many people in Azawad the Malian army is an army of occupation for the simple reason that it is the only thing that they see from the Malian government.

Please explain to me the position my country is holding in this conflict. Is it one that encourages peace or one that takes sides so that the other side will be brought to its knees.

I believe that my country stands for human rights, justice and dignity for all people. It so happens that the Tamasheq people are right now fighting for their dignity. The Malian army is notoriously known to target civilian population centers and as you must know already tens of thousands of Tamasheq fled the area because of reprisals. If my country stands for freedom, then my country should support the right of the Tamasheq to free themselves from a relationship that has been anything but beneficial to them.

I would like to emphasize a few things about the Tamasheq:

– They are Amazigh (Berber) and as such do not associate with Al-Qaida. Most Tamasheq practice a very moderate form of Islam and they never took hostages or attacked tourists in the desert. Al-Qaida was brought in this area by those who are using it for their own political and economical gains.

– They lived on this territory for millennia and have every right to live freely on it and benefit from it as they see fit. They have every right for auto determination as guaranteed by international laws.

The Tamasheq people are not any different from the people of Kosovo, South Sudan or the USA.

Mr President, I urge you to hold a neutral position and call the two parties to sit down at the negotiation table. Rather than sending arms, I wish the US would send humanitarian assistance for refugees and populations affected by the conflict and reassert its position in favor of freedom and human rights.

Respectfully

Hsen Larbi

{- Letter for Obama from an American-Amazigh about the Azawad situation
– Hsen Larbi, Philadelphia, USA
– to The President of the United States of America,
– The White House,
– 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,
– Washington DC, 20500}

5 COMMENTS

  1. A problem isn’t a problem until, it’s a problem for the white master… and Obama is nothing but a white person in a black skin. The French invented republic of Mali, like the rest in the area for that matter, is set to facilitate and coordinate the exploration and exploitation of natural resources at the lowest cost possible… And by possible, it means, what the locals think these(natural resources) are worth – It is precisely why, ignorance and “HARM”-ing development is in the Gris-Gris (euro-ghost) ‘s interest.
    By terrorist in gris-gris mind is meant anyone who threatens or disturbs their interest as they happen to be. Be it all the imaginary kingdoms or banana republics, they do have the same purpose. As to Obama, read what he writes about his father, and you will understand that he’s a mama’s boy ! – Hey, he went to Ireland to clame to be Irish ! also hoping they Irish Americans would vote for him, but they won’t ! The travesty he participates in will evict him out of where he’s…

    • Hi Nadia, thank you for your insightful cotmenms and questions. I do not think that separatism should be the immediate course of action for marginalized groups with grievances; developing a new country is a difficult thing to do, and not an easy option! Without support, new states may become just as despotic and oppressive towards their citizens as the original government. In this case, however, the Tamasheq (Tuareg) people have asked for human rights and dignity time and time again, and each time their situation has not improved, and the Malian government has responded by massacring civilians. Appealing to the international community has also not been successful, as their pleas have been largely ignored for political reasons. Given that context, I think that the people of Azawad made a difficult and understandable choice to take up arms and defend themselves. Other marginalized groups must also try hard to work through political processes but it is difficult when your own government is attacking and killing their own civilians in refugee camps.As for the diaspora, I call on the international community, especially Imazighen, to pressure our political representatives to recognize the independent state of Azawad and oppose the inhumane actions of the Malian government. We must also provide financial and moral support to our Tamasheq sisters and brothers and use whatever means we have to draw attention to the situation in Azawad, considering that it has been either under-reported or incorrectly reported by mainstream media outlets.

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