hespress interview with Ferhat MEHENNI, President of MAK and Anavad.
Question: It’s been more than 20 years since the birth of the MAK. What is your assessment of the efforts made along the way to achieve independence for Kabylia?
F. M: For a generation now, Kabylia has been fighting peacefully for its freedom, under the leadership of the MAK. It’s worth remembering that this struggle began with enormous handicaps on a terrain that was, on the one hand, undermined by Algerianist ideology and, on the other, dominated by two Kabyle political parties, the RCD and the FFS. Since its foundation, it has resisted daily internal and external destabilization manoeuvres. Despite all this, we have succeeded in making the MAK, as a national liberation organization, the leading political force in Kabylia, a very solid structure, widely anchored in society.
The Declaration of 05/06/2001, in which we proposed a regional autonomy solution to the bloody events that were shaking Kabylia, and to the foreseeable events that would later plunge us into mourning, marked a break with the linguistic demands of the Mouvement Culturel Berbère (MCB), echoed by the entire Kabyle political class. It was only once we had realized, a few years later, that it was easier for us to gain our independence than to wrest regional autonomy that, in 2013, we moved on to set a definitive course for the Kabyle people’s right to self-determination and Kabylia’s independence by peaceful means.
Despite the police presence in Kabylia and that of the Kabyle political parties, which are totally committed to the colonialist theses of the Algerian military regime, repression has accompanied us since 2014. From 2021 onwards, this repression will be transformed into anti-Kabylian state terrorism. In two years, thousands of Kabyles have been arrested, tortured and sentenced for the crime of being Kabyles, lovers of freedom and Kabylia. To these must be added the 100,000 or so of our fellow citizens who are forbidden to leave Algeria.
In the meantime, while managing this repression and expanding the MAK’s ranks within society, the Aanavad (provisional Kabyle government in exile) born on 01/06/2010, is working to endow Kabylia with the essential attributes of sovereignty and to design, little by little, the state architecture of the future independent Kabylia.
Question: Despite your peaceful nature and all your efforts to find a solution, not only does Algeria continue to deny the Kabyle people’s right to self-determination, it also classifies you as a “terrorist organization” without any proof. On the other hand, it supports the right of what it calls the “Saharan people” to decide their own future. What do you think about this?
F. M: It proves that, in absolute terms, Algeria doesn’t care about the right of peoples to self-determination. It only uses it as an instrument to destabilize its adversaries geopolitically. As His Excellency Mr. Omar Hilale, Morocco’s Permanent Representative to the UN, has stated: “The valiant Kabyle people deserve, more than any other, to fully enjoy their right to self-determination”.
Question: Some people believe that the independence demands of the Kabyles and those of other regions in southern Algeria have no reality on the ground, and that they are only present through voices from abroad. How do you respond?
F. M: I don’t know the reality of the demands on the ground in the regions you mentioned. On the other hand, this assertion is totally false as far as Kabylia is concerned. YouTube is full of videos of our marches that prove the contrary. If, in 2022 and 2023, we haven’t organized any demonstrations of force in Kabylia, as we did until 2021 on the occasion of April 20th, it’s state terrorism, to which we don’t want to expose the population, that has led us to postpone them. We don’t want a bloodbath. Today, if our demonstrations of strength are to be measured in terms of our marches in France and North America, they must also be measured in terms of the number of our activists and supporters filling Algeria’s colonial prisons, as well as the number of outrageous anti-Kabylian racist trials that make up most of the news in Algeria. As soon as Kabylia once again has the means to march for its independence, the Kabyle streets will be even more impressive than anything they’ve seen so far.
Question: Algeria is also refusing to open a new page in its relations with Morocco, despite King Mohammed VI’s new offer to do so in his latest Speech from the Throne. What do you think about this?
F. M: Morocco can’t spend its time inviting Algeria to turn the page on its hostility towards it. The kingdom has learned to do without Algeria, and that’s comforting. Algeria is a military regime that only expects Morocco to surrender. Even if, logically and as is the case throughout the world, the responsible attitude is to try to live as good neighbors, when their hostility is so obvious, we must not only take note but also expect the worst.
Algeria, backed by the Wagner and Russian support, wants to isolate Morocco by taking Mali, attempting to take Senegal and soon Mauritania. Once the plan is implemented, it will not hesitate to try to take Morocco.
It could be that offers of dialogue are often perceived by the military as signs of weakness.
Algeria, as it was conceived during colonial times, will always pose a vital threat to Morocco and its other neighbors, regardless of the political regime established in Algiers. Only an independent Kabylia will be able to attenuate, if not annihilate, the danger.
Question: You thanked Morocco for its support for the Kabyle people’s right to independence. In return, Algeria accuses you of being financed by Morocco and Israel to undermine its stability. What do you think, and what is the nature of Moroccan support for the Kabyle cause?
F. M: Kabylia has the right and the duty to congratulate any country or political organization that supports its independence, in whatever way or form. It also has the right to expect help for its peaceful cause, wherever it comes from. Kabylia will no longer justify itself in the face of false and unfounded accusations. We will no longer spend our time saying who is supporting us or how we are being supported.
Question: Has the latest Franco-Algerian rapprochement had any impact on your activities in France? And do you have full confidence in the Elysée Palace?
F. M : The latest rapprochement between France and Algeria, as we were convinced in advance, could not have a future. It was stillborn, because Algeria has definitively turned its back on any strategic agreement with France and NATO. Algiers is aligned with Moscow and Beijing. In addition to this anti-Western geostrategic alignment, Algeria had no historical existence prior to the war of independence against France. For Algeria, France must therefore remain an eternal enemy to legitimize its own existence. The appeasement of memories invoked in Paris is a French whim. It is with Morocco that France has every chance of concluding reliable and lasting agreements.
As for the consequences of a possible Algerian-French thaw on our activities, we have total confidence in France, its rule of law and its democracy. I personally enjoy political refugee status in France, protected by the Geneva Conventions. I admire France and live happily here.
Question: You and dozens of your companions have been sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of “creating and managing a terrorist organization, undermining state security…”. What is your comment?
F. M : I’ve already been sentenced to death five times, life imprisonment thirty times and 20 years in prison. I don’t care about my own fate. I’m thinking of those who are in prison and who have suffered indescribable violence. I call on countries and NGOs committed to the respect of human rights, I call on the UN Secretary General, the European Union and the African Union to demand the immediate and unconditional release of these peaceful activists condemned on arbitrary charges and in unfair racist trials. I refuse to allow the peaceful assertion of Kabylia’s right to self-determination to be criminalized. It is in line with the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the two International Covenants on Political, Social and Cultural Rights ratified by Algeria. Our demand is in line with UN Resolution 1514 of 1960.
As for calling us “terrorists”, that’s the world upside down. The only terrorists in this affair are the Algerian military, who are using a rump justice system to abuse international law by issuing an order defining terrorism in defiance of the criteria laid down by the UN.
What we need to remember about this criminal behavior on the part of the Algerian authorities towards the MAK and Kabyle political activists is that the result is the opposite of what Algiers had in mind. Far from weakening the demand for independence, the repression only served to legitimize it further at the heart of Kabyle society.
It is because of this densification of the popularity of our right to independence that fires are organized, set off in synchronized fashion by helicopters, and Algerian soldiers in Kabylia to punish the Kabyles for their adherence to the cause of their independence. Two years ago, Algeria accused the MAK, Morocco and Israel of being behind the fires that killed over 500 people. This year, not even the MAK can be invoked, since its militants are in prison. On the other hand, we can see that Algiers is conducting a scorched-earth policy in Kabylia, so that when it becomes independent, it will already be a desert.
But we’ll win. It’s all these crimes against Kabylia that legitimize and reinforce Kabylia’s right to independence.
Question: You were one of those who welcomed Israel’s recognition of the Moroccan Sahara. On the other hand, Algeria denounces an Israeli-Moroccan alliance that threatens its security. How do you view this situation, and do you hope for recognition of the Kabyle people’s right to independence?
F. M: Algeria is delirious. Neither Israel nor Morocco has any warlike intentions against Algeria. It’s a discourse aimed primarily at local consumption. To brandish a threat against the country is just a way for its power to vainly try to give itself a popular base and a legitimacy that it has sorely lacked since 1962.
As for Kabylia, yes, it is awaiting recognition by many countries, including Israel, just as it impatiently awaits the opening of diplomatic representation in Dakhla and Rabat.
INTERVIEW WITH MAK AND ANAVAD PRESIDENT FERHAT MEHENNI BY “HESPRESS.COM”.
hespress interview with Ferhat MEHENNI, President of MAK and Anavad.