INTERVIEW OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE ANAVAD (PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT OF KABYLIA) Mr. FERHAT MEHENNI WITH THE MOROCCAN ELECTRONIC NEWSPAPER HESPRESS
Below is the whole interview of Mr. Ferhat Mehenni, President of Provisional Government of Kabylia and the Movement for the Self-Determination of Kabylia. He went on to speak about the current situation which prevails in Kabylia and Algeria.
HESPRESS – Firstly, you certainly follow closely the Hirak (movement) in Algeria. According to you, to which way the protest movement is moving towards?
FERHAT MEHENNI – The movement, which started from Kherrata (Kabylia) on February 16th, 2019, was initially directed against the 5th term of Bouteflika. This term, which was obviously too many, was then supported by the whole circle in place, starting with Gaid Salah and Bensalah who want to make believe today that they are cleaning up the Augias Stables from garbage of which themselves are part of.
The unexpected, as well as the sudden success of this popular rising, has excited all the opportunists who, believe that the hunt is within their reach, are trying to channel it to one’s little self. There is indeed enough to tempt all the scavengers.
A non-structured popular movement without a political platform cannot be but only a folkloric one. Behind the slogan “yetnehhaw gaâ” (they will all be removed) hides a whole fauna of idiots who are waiting for the regime’s fall in order to have their position in the one which will replace it. They are counting their chickens before they are hatched. But the regime is still standing and its upholders cannot access but only to requests of musical chairs movement.
I already gave my opinion on the possible outcomes of the Algerian crisis since last March 27th in a contribution entitled “Algeria: after the Friday revolution, dictatorship or chaos”. Obviously, at some point, the authorities will have to take responsibility of a bloodbath or to be lynched by the crowd. In both cases, there is a need to be prepared to the worst.
HESPRESS – What is the position of Kabylia towards this protest movement?
FERHAT MEHENNI – Our position does not change. Kabylia has an interest in leaving the Algeria ship which will sink. It will thus become a chance to rescue everyone at the disaster time.
But, currently, in order to save the regime, its upholders and their international support are desperately drawing up diversion plans so as to make of Kabylia the scapegoat of the Algerian crisis. Even foreign powers would be pushing Gaid Salah and those hiding behind him to activate an operation to exterminate the Kabyles, known as the “zero Kabyles operation.” The Algerian gendarmes, openly and publicly, provided security during three days for a conclave held in late August in Mostaganem, under the presidency of a French agent, Lakhdar Benkoula, so as to seal the fate of the Kabyle people.
In front of the Kabyle genocide which is looming on the horizon, we wrote to the UN, the African Union and the European Union to alert them about it and ask them to place Kabylia under international protection. The continuous movement of troops in the Kabyle territory for some time now is a very serious concern. It is vital for the Kabyles to organize their self-defense if they do not want to die like sheep. The Kabyle people would not be far from a large-scale bloodbath. We seize the opportunity of this interview to make an international SOS again to avoid this horror on a large scale.
HESPRESS – How do you detect the conflicts of interest between the different Algerian generals and what is the future of the country face this difficult situation?
FERHAT MEHENNI – In one of his last speeches, General Gaid Salah accused the Kabyles, without naming them, of being the “new colonialism” from whom he will free Algeria. The purges which he has already carried out within the army, businessmen and politicians generally affect only the Kabyles. An aggressive propaganda orchestrated, for over a year, by relatives of the ruling power, treats the Kabyles as “Zouaves” (auxiliaries of the French colonial army) and the Amazigh noble symbol as “Farchita”(fork).
It is a war against Kabylia which takes place in the form of conflicts of interest between the generals, to pick up the words of your question. As far as the future is concerned, it cannot be but only dark for all. However, it is fair to me say that the Kabyle will never let themselves be.
HESPRESS – Further to these events that surround political life in Algeria, don’t you think to take advantage of the situation to deepen and strengthen your position regarding the requests for the independence of Kabylia? Wouldn’t it be an unprecedented opportunity for you to become ever more important?
FERHAT MEHENNI- The Kabyle independentists already got the sympathy and support of the overwhelming majority of Kabyles, wherever they are. Our priority is to ward off the serious threats which pile up on our future. It goes without saying that it’s these threats themselves which strengthen our ranks and dictate to all a duty of solidarity for the independence of Kabylia.
We remind that our yearning for independence is not but only esteem and respect for the other peoples of Algeria and that we do not see it as a rejection of the other but as self-esteem first.
HESPRESS – What is the latest news from the government in exile? Its activities and work plan on the Kabylia case?
FERHAT MEHENNI – The Anavad introduced a Memorandum to the UN, on September 28th, 2017 in order to request international recognition as for the right of the Kabyle people to get their independence, in a peaceful manner. We were welcomed in the European Parliament last December.
On January 9th, 2019 an Extraordinary Convention of the MAK was held right under the Algerian colonial authorities nose and at the end of which the confidence on the head of the Movement and the Anavad was renewed to me unanimously by the delegates.
A rally took place on August 24th, 2019 in front of the UN headquarters in New York, another in front of the Algerian Embassy in Paris on September 8th, 2019 and on September 28th; we will be in front of the UN Office in Geneva, in front of the US Congress in Washington and the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa.
We have built a number of diplomatic relations and we are part of five international organizations.
The anavad has also set up institutions such as the Kabyle Entrepreneurs’ Organization (ODEK), the Kabyle Students Union (UNEK), and a web television after Arabsat refused to broadcast us, at the request of Algeria. The Kabyle Women’s Union and the Kabyle Environmental Protection Agency which have just been created and we have the agreement of a number of personalities for a France-Kabylia friendship organization and for another Europe-Kabylia one.
The charter of the Kabyle representative is currently being studied by our political partners for the purpose of setting up a Kabyle parliament before next April. A currency (Adrim) is also being finalized.
Meanwhile, not a day goes by without activists are not arrested in Kabylia and our mobilization is daily.
To stand up against the Algerian authorities suppression and arbitrariness, we are setting up a body of popular protection called the Anaya
HESPRESS – You are currently an exile self-proclaimed government in the form of an association formed in Paris. Is this status advantageous to you? Or, on the contrary, you face harassment from the Algerian state?
FERHAT MEHENNI – A government in exile can only be self-proclaimed. There cannot be a provisional government elected by universal suffrage; however, I was elected by the MAK (Movement for the Self-determination of Kabylia) to form a government. I have the legitimacy of Kabyle independentist ballot boxes.
The anavad is not based in Paris; its members live in different host countries. It cannot be governed by the associative laws of third countries. Our government has its own sovereignty and its own right. However, the Movement for the Self-Determination of Kabylia, in order to have a legal existence and a legal action in the western countries, complies with the associative laws of the host countries.
The Algerian state protests in vain to the States where we organize actions because these are carried out according to the laws of each country.
HESPRESS – A few weeks ago you chaired a videoconference with students from Tizi-Ouzou University. This, of course, gave a rise to a major controversy.
Does this controversy lead to a value judgment on the key issue of this case among the Kabyles?
FERHAT MEHENNI – The multimedia has pushed back the boundaries of censorship which were ruling within dictatorships before their advent. What could be more natural than using it? The credit goes especially to the MAK activists and the students who, despite the opposition of the regime, imposed this videoconference with debate, in very good conditions. In Kabylia, even since my exile, I am at home.
Today, I am at my 4th popular videoconference and I will chair as many as the conditions allow it.
HESPRESS – Regarding Morocco, what do you think of your relations with the Kingdom, who already put your case into question, with the United Nations?
FERHAT MEHENNI- Our recognition is endless for the King and the Kingdom of Morocco for having asked, in an official capacity, during debates at the UN General Assembly, “to include in the agenda … the right of the Kabyle people to his self-determination “. I hope that this Moroccan position will be reasserted at every necessary opportunity. Our wish is to establish official relations between our two countries for the benefit of our two peoples. The building of a North Africa needs this friendship and these strong ties between us and Morocco.
HESPRESS – In your opinion, what is the reason for which the borders of the two neighboring countries are still not open?
FERHAT MEHENNI – The Algerian-Moroccan borders are the hostage of the Algerian military pipe dream to become a tutelary power of the North African region. The Sahara issue is the challenge and the pretense.
Translated from French by Muḥend u Ṛezqi