Libya: Amazigh demand equality and respect

The Amazigh people in north Africa in general, and in Libya specifically, have been suppressed for centuries.  However the worst suppression has been during these past five decades.

Since Libya gained independence in 1951 the Amazigh were sidelined and deprived of all the rights of indigenous people. The worst was in Ghadafi's time between 1969-2011, when we were denied even to say that we were Amazigh, name our kids Amazigh names, teach our language or even sing in our language, and get any history books that mention Amazigh.

After Ghadafi was gone and Libya started a new era we thought that we were going to build a democratic free civilian state where human rights are respected and all Libyans treated equally. Yet what we are seeing now is just like the old day.

Even though we broke the fear barrier and we are speaking out, demonstrating and demanding respect for our culture and language, and inclusion in the new constitution, neither the government nor most of the political parties are positive about this.

The national TV station denies us time to introduce programs in Amazigh language. The government is not supporting any Amazigh newspaper even though they support newspapers in Arabic, and they still do not recognize Amazigh language as second official language or permit teaching of it in our schools.

So we still live in the same conditions as we were before. The only difference is that we are talking and speaking up without being killed or jailed.

The government has now introduced new history books instead of Ghadafi's misleading books, but these new books are just as bad. They do not present the real history of Libya and they talk mostly about the Arabian history, ignoring the history of Amazigh Libya that extends to tens of thousands of years with great civilizations.

So the civil society community asked our Amazigh representatives in the national congress and the education officials in the Amazigh towns to meet in Zwara city on the 6 October 2011 to discuss this situation. They decided to ask the government to rewrite these school history books and called for a one day strike.

We hope that the Ministry of Education will eventually listen to us, we hope the government will listen because we are not going to give up any more. They must listen and respect the fact that there are other people in Libya, not just Arab, indigenous people that were here long before the Arabs came.

We only seek fairness, equality and justice. We want Libya to be for all Libyans.


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Recent demonstration in Tripoli for the right to use Amazigh language
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Demonstrating for our rights, 2012
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Amazigh girl in traditional dress
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Date: 15/10/2012




Indigenous Peoples

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