• Indigenous peoples in Algeria

    Indigenous peoples in Algeria

    The Amazigh are the indigenous peoples of Algeria that has adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Still, the indigenous status of the Amazigh is not recognised by the Algerian government, and they continue to face a number of challenges.
  • Peoples

    11 million people in Algeria belong to the Amazigh.

    140 political prisoners from the Amazigh peoples are incarcerated without trial in the M’zab region.

    2016: Tamazigh is recognised as national language in Algeria's Constitution.
  • Rights

    The Amazigh are the indigenous peoples of Algeria. Their language, Tamazight, has been recognised as official and in the Constitution. Also, Algeria has adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • Challenges

    The Amazigh peoples are continuously marginalised by state institutions, and anti-Amazigh laws are still in force. The indigenous status of the Amazigh is not recognised by the Algerian government, and thus, they continue to face a number of challenges.

Algeria

The Amazigh are the indigenous peoples of Algeria. Their language, Tamazight, has been recognized in the Constitution. Algeria has adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Despite this progress, the Algerian state of the Amazigh is not recognized by the Algerian government, and therefore, they continue to face a series of challenges.

Algeria voted in favor of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on September 13, 2007. However, the text remains unknown to the vast majority of the citizens of Algeria and is not put into practice. Because of this, the UN treaty monitoring bodies are carrying out numerous additional observations and recommendations for the country.

The Amazigh peoples

Since the Algerian government does not recognize the indigenous status of the Amazigh, there are no official statistics on the number of Amazigh peoples. However, the associations that defend and promote the Amazigh peoples estimate that the Tamazight-speaking population is around 11 million people or a third of the total population of Algeria.
 
The majority of the Amazigh peoples of Algeria live in Kabylia, in the northeast of the country. The rest live in the Aurès region in the east, the Chenwa region on the Mediterranean coast, the M'zab region in the south and the Tuareg territory in the Sahara. Many small Amazigh communities also exist in Tlemcen and Bechar in the southwest, as well as in other places scattered throughout the country.

Tamazight, the language of the Amazigh peoples

In 2016, the Algerian parliament adopted a new Constitution, in which Article 4 establishes that Tamazight is also a national and official language. Article 3, however, indicates that Arabic is the national and official language. According to many observers, the way in which articles 3 and 4 are formulated shows the lack of equality between the two official languages.

However, in 2017, the Algerian Head of State announced during the Council of Ministers final year, which urged the government to spare no effort to standardize the teaching and use of Tamazight, in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Constitution . . He also accused the government of accelerating preparations for the bill to create an Algerian Academy for the Amazigh language.

Main challenges for the Amazigh peoples

The Amazigh peoples are continually marginalized by state institutions, and anti-Mamaigh laws are still in force.

The Amazigh peoples face arbitrary arrests in different regions of the country. For example, in 2016, the total number of Mozarabic and Amazigh people in the M'zab region arrested and sent to jail normally without trial was around 140. In protest against their illegal detention and inhuman detention conditions, some prisoners of Mozabite resorted to repeated hunger strikes.

In Kabylia, traditional activities and events of the Amazigh organized by non-governmental organizations such as Yennayer, Amazigh Year Year or Amazigh Spring, have been interrupted, forbidden or prevented by force by the police. Members of the Amazigh World Congress (CMA) living in Kabylia have been arrested, interrogated and then released several times. In police custody, they were threatened with imprisonment and violence against their families if they do not stop their activism.

The obstacles in relation to free movement on the Algerian border with northern Mali and the Niger continue to impede traditional exchanges between indigenous populations and deprive them of family and community relations.

 

ALGERIA IW 2019

The Amazigh are the indigenous people of Algeria and other countries of North Africa and have been present in these territories since ancient times.

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About IWGIA

IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting, protecting and defending indigenous peoples’ rights. Read more.

Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for indigenous peoples worldwide. The Indigenous World 2019.

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