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The Kabylia Republic Declares Independence from Algeria

The Kabylia independence movement, led by the Movement for the independence of Kabylia (MAK), recently marked a significant milestone in its long-standing campaign against what it describes as Algerian occupation. In a ceremonious event held in New York City, close to the United Nations headquarters, the movement officially proclaimed the rebirth of the Kabyle state. This symbolic location was chosen to underscore the new state’s aspirations to gain recognition as a legitimate member of the international community.
During this poignant ceremony, Ferhat Mhenni, the leader of MAK, delivered a powerful speech to the attendees. He revisited the historical narrative of the Kabyle region, which had been incorporated into modern-day Algeria during French colonial rule. Mhenni highlighted the longstanding resistance against Algerian Military control, particularly emphasizing the revolts from 1963 to 1966, which he characterized as a foundational struggle against Algerian domination.
The event was charged with emotion as participants waved the Kabyle flag and passionately sang the national anthem, signaling a unified desire for recognition and sovereignty. Days prior to this declaration, Mhenni had addressed the 23rd session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, advocating for Kabylia’s inclusion in the UN decolonization process. He expressed optimism that the UN’s Fourth Committee on Decolonization would soon engage directly with a Kabyle delegation to explore ways to support their non-violent quest for independence.
Mhenni also criticized the harsh treatment of Kabyle activists by Algerian authorities, condemning the imprisonment of over 500 peaceful proponents of independence on what he claimed were unfounded charges. He accused the Algerian government of employing “terrorist means” to suppress self-determination movements within its borders while simultaneously denying these rights to the Kabyles, despite their distinct historical sovereignty, language (Amazigh), and traditional legal systems.
The repression of the Kabyle people has been a longstanding issue, tracing back to their prominent role in resisting French colonial rule. Tragically, this resistance was met with brutal reprisals from the post-independence military regime, which not only assassinated Kabyle leaders but also installed an authoritarian single-party system.
The legacy of oppression continued into more recent times. During the presidency of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the regime was responsible for the deaths of 126 Kabyle protesters in the Black Spring incidents—an uprising ignited by the death of high school student Massinisa Guermah at the hands of the Algerian gendarmerie. These protesters had demanded recognition of their cultural and linguistic identity and called for improved economic opportunities.
The current military leadership under Chengriha and Tebboune has escalated this climate of intimidation, with accusations from Kabyle activists that the regime has orchestrated arsons to target their community and unjustly imprisoned numerous individuals on trumped-up charges, including terrorism. The overwhelmingly low turnout in Kabylia during the 2019 presidential elections and subsequent constitutional referendum starkly illustrates the local population’s profound disillusionment with Algerian governance.
The Kabylia independence movement continues to seek international support for its cause. It strives to achieve recognition and the right to self-determination, free from the oppressive tactics historically employed by the Algerian state.
The longstanding grievances between the Kabyle people and the Algerian regime have been marked by a series of actions that many have characterized as state-sanctioned abuses. These actions include a pattern of systemic repression, cultural suppression, and violent incidents, which have contributed to a deeply strained relationship.
Systematic Repression and Arbitrary Arrests.
The Algerian regime has frequently been accused of employing harsh tactics against Kabyle activists, including arbitrary detention and politically motivated arrests. These are often conducted under the guise of maintaining national security but are viewed by many as attempts to stifle dissent and suppress the independence movement.
Cultural Suppression.
One of the more insidious forms of repression has been the attempt to marginalize the Kabyle language and culture. Despite the rich Amazigh heritage of the Kabyles, the Algerian government has historically promoted Arabization policies that sideline Amazigh cultural practices and languages. This cultural erasure has been a source of significant tension and resentment, fueling movements towards greater autonomy or independence.
Violence and Killings.
Perhaps the most blatant abuses have occurred in the form of direct violence against the Kabyle people. A notable example was during the Black Spring of 2001, when the Algerian gendarmerie killed over 126 Kabyle protesters. These protests were sparked by the death of the young student Massinisa Guermah in gendarmerie custody, which ignited widespread demonstrations across Kabylia demanding justice and greater autonomy. The violent response from the state further entrenched the distrust and animosity between the Kabyle community and the Algerian authorities.
Economic Neglect and Discrimination.
Beyond physical and cultural repression, the Kabyle region has suffered from economic neglect and discrimination, exacerbating poverty and unemployment in the region. This neglect is perceived not just as a failure of governance but as a deliberate marginalization that has fueled further unrest and calls for independence.
Environmental and Land Rights Abuses.
Accusations have also surfaced about the government’s role in environmental mismanagement and neglect, particularly in response to wildfires that have periodically ravaged the Kabyle region. Activists have accused the government of inadequate responses to natural disasters, which some allege may be exacerbated by deliberate neglect or even malicious actions aimed at displacing Kabyle communities.
The cumulative impact of these actions has been a profound sense of injustice among the Kabyle people, contributing to the intensification of their independence movement. The international community’s role remains critical in addressing these issues, as international pressure can help mediate these deep-seated conflicts and encourage a more humane approach to governance by the Algerian regime.

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