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Berbers - Amazigh - in Libya

Berbers, who call themselves Amazigh, are the original inhabitants of North Africa. In Libya, they live mainly in the western mountains, in towns such as Nalut, Zintan, Yafran, and Qalaa. They have long suffered from Gaddafi's genocidal policies where their very existence was denied. Berbers who maintain their culture number up to 150,000, but Berber genes are present in a majority of the Libyan population. Berbers in Lybia include the Tuaregs, who are also numerous in Chad and Niger. Tuaregs from Chad are fighting in Gaddafi's army, but their Libyan cousins have declared themselves anti-Gaddafi, as have the rest of the Berbers. The Libyan Tuaregs live in towns further south in the desert -- Ghadames, Ghat, Djanet, and Suhoul Adrar.

Western Lybia

Zintan 2011 - YouTube channel for Revolutionaries from the western town of Zintan, in Arabic

 

Zintan
on Twitter

Berbers in Libya News Articles

Video: Uprising in Nalut  4/28/2011 Al Jazeera: "Al Jazeera reports on the uprising in Nalut with the help from a new Amazigh radio station who are now free to play their own music and speak in their own language. They also show pictures not seen before from the uprising in Nalut."

Video: Opposition gaining ground in Nafusa mountains  4/26/2011 Al Jazeera 

Rare view from Libya's western mountains shows rebel gains against Qaddafi  4/26/2011 CSM 

Libyan rebels firmly in control in mountainous west  4/23/2011 LA Times: "The people of the region — a mixture of Arab and ethnic Berber, or Amazigh, tribes — have long been at odds over water and land rights. Kadafi deftly pitted them against one another in an attempt to maintain his hold on power, they say. But for now, they have united in opposing him, Lameen said."

Libya rebels seize border post  4/22/2011 Al Jazeeera: "Footage has emerged showing armed rebels seizing a border post along Libya's national boundary with Tunisia. Waheed Burshan, a Tunis-based political activist, tells Al Jazeera's Nick Clark about the scene at the Wazin border crossing."

Libyan rebels seize Tunisian border post  4/22/2011 Irish Times 

Death of Libyan patriot confirmed on Twitter  4/22/2011 Ma'an: "It was reported that the surgeons were using the lights of mobile phones to examine Khalid’s wounds, and he was listed on Tuesday afternoon in critical condition. Throughout the painful ordeal, he continued to tweet, knowing that as he was the only English-speaking member of the group, the information he provided would be able to reach a much larger audience."

The Nafusa Mountain Rebellion  4/21/2011 Family Security Matters: [the neocon version]

Libya: rebels ‘seize Tunisia border post  4/21/2011 Feb17.info 

Video: Libyan Revolutionaries Sing Around Campfire in Amazigh (English Translations)  4/21/2011 Feb17.info: "Where do you want us to go? Give me your hand So we can go to Benghazi The City of Freedom So we can go to Zawiya The City of Marytyrs So we can go to Zintan The City of Knights And in the end Libya will be free, and we will live in love and tranquility"

The first graduating class of the National Army of Zintan  4/20/2011 Youtube: "Uniformed soldiers are shown marching in formation as civilians watch." [trained while engaging in an insurrection]

Nafousa Mountain Libyans living in fear  4/18/2011 Amnesty International: "In fact, speaking to families from the Nafousa Mountain, the majority of whom are from the Amazigh minority, it is hard to separate the past from the present. Many told Amnesty International that they took to the streets in February to demand change and an end to repression and discrimination against the Amazigh community in Libya. They described how the Libyan government under Colonel al-Gaddafi has sought, they say, to erase the Amazigh cultural identity and language – for example, by banning them from giving their children Amazigh names, insisting that they use only Arab ones."

Major offensive launched against Gaddafi forces 40km east of Zintan  4/16/2011 Audioboo: 55-60 Gaddafi men killed, equipment seized, 11 revolutionaries martyred.

Seven rebels killed in western Libya-rebel spokesman  4/15/2011 Reuters: "Yafran is part of the Western Mountains region, an area inhabited by Berbers who are ethnically distinct from most Libyans." [Most Libyans are actually genetically Berber, but culturally Arab.]

Hundreds of ethnic Berbers forced to flee fighting in western Libya – UN agency  4/12/2011 UN News Centet: "More than 500 ethnic Berbers fleeing conflict in western Libya have reached neighbouring Tunisia, the United Nations refugee agency reported today as it steps up support for the new arrivals. The Berbers who have arrived in the Dehiba area of southern Tunisia have limited resources and “significant humanitarian needs,” said Andrej Mahecic, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)."

Map of Gaddafi’s attacks on the Western Mountains region  4/11/2011 Libya Feb 17 

Libyan refugees tell of region suffering in silence  4/10/2011 Reuters: "The bombardment ... is targeting homes, hospitals, schools," said Mohamed Ouan, from the town of Kalaa, who arrived at Tunisia's Dehiba border crossing with about 500 other Libyans from the Western Mountains… The Western Mountains region, which includes the towns of Nalout, Kalaa, Yafran and Zintan, is populated by Berbers, a group ethnically distinct from most Libyans and traditionally viewed with suspicion by Gaddafi."

Libya: Berber refugees report atrocities in remote Western Mountains  4/10/2011 WW4 Report: "As battles rage for the Libyan coastal cities of Misrata and Ajdabiyah, refugees arriving in Tunisia report atrocities by Moammar Qaddafi's forces in the remote Western Mountains—including the shelling of homes, poisoning wells with petrol, and threatening women with rape. "The bombardment...is targeting homes, hospitals, schools," said Mohamed Ouan, from the town of Kalaa, who arrived at Tunisia's Dehiba border crossing with about 500 other Libyans from the Western Mountains. "No one is interested in this region, which is suffering in silence."

The Black African Soldiers Who Fight for Libya—and the U.S.  3/28/2011 New American Media: "At remote gunnery ranges outside of Sabha, a military town in the southwestern Fezzan region, the Tuareg commandos receive training from American special-forces instructors in automatic-weapons-handling, sniper marksmanship and communications. These masters of desert survival need no outside training in tracking and outmaneuvering the AQIM, who in the Sahara region are called the Salafists. The counter-terrorism cooperation between the U.S. and Libya, two countries with a history of rocky relations, is kept out of media view. Neither is this joint project ever mentioned in the U. S. Africa Command's Trans-Sahara Terrorism Program, which openly includes every other country of the vast arid region."

Denied Existence: Libyan-Berbers under Gaddafi and Hope for the Current Revolution  3/24/2011 Muftah: "There are no official numbers defining the percentage of Amazigh within the Libyan population, as Gaddafi has refused to treat the Amazigh population as a separate and distinct ethnic group for purposes of national statistics. Nonetheless, experts estimate that nearly 10% of the population is of Amazigh origin, including the Tuaregs living in southern Libya, residents of the western cities of Ghdammes and Ghat, and those living in the western highlands of Jabel Nafousa and the coastal town of Zuara… Gaddafi’s regime has also conducted a relentless campaign, which continued up until the beginning of the current uprising, to eliminate Amazigh activists. On December 16, 2010, two brothers, Mazigh and Madghis Bouzakhar, were arrested and allegedly tortured for their involvement in activities promoting Amazigh culture. At about the same time, two Moroccan researchers disappeared after entering Libya to study Amazigh culture."

Video: Aftermath after Attacks in Zintan  3/23/2011 Feb 17: "In the middle of house.. the first bullets (attack) was in the middle of houses.. in the middle of civilians.. these boys live in this area. Look at this .. just leave it in it’s place the people who know weapons will know what type it is. I don’t know what it is. This is the missile. Look here *points at hole* one of the missiles coming from the south east, coming to houses. This was a safe area full of simple people.. they are being attacked in their homes. The house is about 10 meters away from houses. Do not move it leave it this is history. All these are coming from the south-east there is area which has storages for ammunition. They were aiming for the mosque. This is one of the sheep hit by the missiles and this is its blood. One "In the middle of house.. the first bullets (attack) was in the middle of houses.. in the middle of civilians.. these boys live in this area. Look at this .. just leave it in it’s place the people who know weapons will know what type it is. I don’t know what it is. This is the missile. Look here *points at hole* one of the missiles coming from the south east, coming to houses. This was a safe area full of simple people.. they are being attacked in their homes. The house is about 10 meters away from houses. Do not move it leave it this is history. All these are coming from the south-east there is area which has storages for ammunition. They were aiming for the mosque. This is one of the sheep hit by the missiles and this is its blood. One of the victims look it is dead. This is another one in the middle of the house. Look these are houses not even 4 meters away. Look this is broken window broke just from the noise. This is all just as a result of the noise missiles made. These are just houses just look. Simple people, they have no relation to war or anything."

Zintan rebels persist  3/23/2011 France 24: "“This man kills innocents,” one fighter tells Florent Marcie, one of the few western journalists present in the region. “We have these old rifles, but most of the people here have nothing at all. His forces shoot shells from their tanks on our homes and children. They shoot at anything.” On Monday, Gaddafi’s troops pounded Zintan with heavy weapons for several hours. Witnesses said several houses and the minaret of a mosque were destroyed. They came back on Tuesday and renewed the assault with even greater intensity."

Gaddafi forces attack Zintan, destroy farm and sheep  3/21/2011 Facebook 

Gaddafi Rails Against 'No Fly' Attacks and Berbers  3/20/2011 All Africa: " In the past, Gaddafi has denied the existence of indigenous Berbers as an ethnicity alongside the now-dominant population of Arab origin, although communities of Berbers still live in areas west and southwest of the capitol Tripoli. Estimates put the Berber population of Libya at 25,000 to 150,000. According to a 2008 U.S. embassy document recently released by Wikileaks, efforts of diplomats to visit Berber areas or to discuss Libya's Berber heritage were met with charges of "unacceptable interference" in Libyan affairs, as well as with a ban on travel to the Berber town of Zuwara by embassy personnel."

Libyan Oil Buys Allies for Qaddafi  3/15/2011 NYT: "Touaregs in Mali spoke of government soldiers poisoning wells and pulling Touareg men off buses and making them eat their national identification cards at gunpoint and then arresting or shooting them for not having any identification. When thousands of Touaregs fled into Libya in the 1970s and 1980s, Colonel Qaddafi welcomed them with open arms. He gave them food and shelter. He called them brothers. He also started training them as soldiers. Touareg elders here say that many of the so-called African mercenaries Colonel Qaddafi is now relying on to suppress the revolts are actually Touaregs who have been serving in the Libyan Army for years, not new arrivals. Still, Touareg elders in Mali and Niger have also said that in the past few weeks hundreds of former rebels have crossed the porous borders into Libya to fight for Colonel Qaddafi. Most are said to travel in pickup trucks, unarmed, appearing as migrant laborers, only to be armed once they get to Libya. In another wrinkle, some Touaregs are widely believed to be cooperating with Qaeda agents in the Sahara, which would completely undermine Colonel Qaddafi’s repeated utterances that his forces are defending the nation against a Qaeda onslaught."

Morocco grants Berbers greater rights, as Libyan Berbers join revolution  3/9/2011 WW4 Report: "Significantly, Morocco's constitutional reform comes as Amazigh tribes in eastern Libya have joined the rebels fighting to overthrow Moammar Qaddafi. (The Guardian, Feb. 28) We noted in 2005 a secret meeting of Libyan opposition groups to call for resistance against the regime, which included representatives of the Berber people—and was boycotted by the Salafists (North African jihadis) because of its secular orientation. We've also noted that Berber demands for cultural rights and recognition have contributed to a groundswell for democratic reform in Algeria in recent years. A wave of Berber protests in Algeria's Kabylia region in 2001 was followed by the arrests of political and cultural leaders. We recently noted that the Berbers' southern cousins, the Tuaregs (or Kel Tamashek in their own tongue)—a chiefly nomadic people of the interior Sahara, speaking a closely related tongue—are in danger of being pitted against each other by the Libyan crisis. In the 1990s, Moammar Qaddafi backed Tuareg insurgencies in Mali and Niger, where they had long been denied rights or autonomy, and is now recruiting former guerilla fighters from these countries as mercenaries to defend his regime. Meanwhile, Libya's own Tuareg tribes have declared for the revolution."

Tuareg mercenaries said to fight for Qaddafi —as Libyan Tuaregs join revolution  3/2/2011 WW4 Report: "There are also ominous possibilities that the Libyan fighting could pit Tuareg against Tuareg, with reports that indigenous Tuareg tribes in Libya's south have joined the uprising against the regime. Attacks by Tuareg tribesman on official buildings have been reported from their interior strongholds of Ghadames, Ghat, Djanet, and Suhoul Adrar. (OnIslam, March 1)"

Libya's Berbers join the revolution in fight to reclaim ancient identity  2/28/2011 Guardian 
 

 

Links/Enlacestop

Stop the Cultural Genocide Carried out Against the Berber Nation of Libya by the Qadhafi Regime, 2/7/2010

The Berbers of Libya

Berbers in Libya - languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=3107

Libyan Berbers struggle to assert their identity online, Arab Media & Society, 2009

World News - Berbers - wn.com/berbers - videos

 

Berber and North African Genetics

Y chromosomes in North African populations, 7/16/08
The frequency distribution of Y-chromosome haplotypes at DNA polymorphism p49/TaqI was studied in a sample of 505 North Africans from Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. A particulary high frequency (55.0%) of Y-haplotype 5 (A2,CO,DO,F1,11 ) was observed in these populations, with a relative predominance in those of Berber origin.

 

 

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