On 16 April Chairwoman Hautala and Former Chairwoman of the European Parliament Subcommittee, Ms Helen Flautre sent the letter below to the Ambassador of Algeria in Belgium[:], regarding the safety of the demonstrators at the Berber commemoration of the thirtieth anniversary of the so called “Berber Spring”, scheduled for 20th April. [:]
We are writing to you to express our concern the information that we have received regarding the safety of the demonstrators at the Berber commemoration of the thirtieth anniversary of the so called “Berber Spring”, scheduled for 20th April.
We have understood that the so called “Berber Spring” stems from the period of 10th March – 20th April in 1980 that was marked by unrest in the Kabylie region in Algeria ending with violence and arrest of hundreds of Berber rights activists. Ever since then the Kabylians have commemorated the people who died for official recognition of Berber culture and rights on 20th April of every year.
We have learned that the people attending the commemorations and marches are often violently attacked by the security forces. Moreover, on 20th April 2001, four people were killed in such commemoration. Immediately after the events the then Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, Ms Hélène Flautre, visited the families of the victims and called for inquiry into the killings. We have understood that these are not the only cases of loss of live in the same vein.
We would like to remind that Algeria has freely committed itself to the International Covenant on civil and political rights guaranteeing the rights to life and physical integrity (article 6 & 7), the right to freedom of association (article 22) and the right of peaceful assembly (article 21).
As the annual 20th April demonstration for the respect of the rights of the Berber people nears we strongly call the Algerian authorities to ensure that the commemoration take place in the best conditions of calm and to refrain from using violence this time
Furthermore, we would like to insist on the Association Agreement between the EU and Algeria which is based on full respect for human rights in its article 2. The European Parliament and the Subcommittee on Human Rights will continue to monitor the human rights situation in Kabylie region and the authorities’ commitment to support the legal activities of the Berber community.
We welcome the opportunity to hear from you on your Government’s response to our serious concerns.
Chair of the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights, Member of European Parliament
Chair of the EU-Turkey delegation, Former Chair of the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights, Member of European Parliament