Algeria: Olympian Hassiba Boulmerka “Confuses” Sahrawis and Kabyles at the U.N

Moroccans are accustomed to Algeria’s anti-Morocco rhetoric when it comes to the Western Sahara conflict that opposes the two nations. Algeria dispatches on a regular basis national and international personalities to champion the Sahrawi cause in international conferences. Yet, the “militancy” of former Algerian athlete Hassiba Boulmerka for the self-determination of the Sahara stands out as a joke and an affront to human rights activism around the world.

While an official Algerian delegation headed by the former Algerian Olympian had been denouncing Morocco’s alleged human rights abuses in New York all week long, Algiers has refused to “uphold the values of the United Nations Human Rights Council by allowing UN human rights experts and international human rights nongovernmental organizations to visit the country.”

Five human rights organizations, including Amnesty international and Human Rights Watch said that “the Algerian authorities have not agreed to visits by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, despite repeated requests.”

On other related developments, Reuters news agency reported Monday on “clashes between Arabs and Berbers near the southern Algerian desert town of Ghardaia, with two people killed and businesses torched” as” policemen staged a march in Ghardaia to protest against attacks on them by gangs of youths”. With the absence of President Bouteflika leaving a leadership vacuum, human rights abuses against Kabyle people will persist and the confrontation with local Arabs likely to worsen.

As the situation in Ghardaia and New York prove, the Algerian government campaign against Morocco is nothing but a failed attempt to hide the mounting security and social instability in Algerian Kabyle region. At the heart of Boulmerka’s speech are disguises and distractions to veil Algeria’s continues human rights abuses.

Ms. Boulmerka, who doesn’t perform any notable human or civic activities outside the Algerian government ordered and financed endeavors in support of” the holding of the self-determination referendum in Western Sahara”, looked out of place in New York.

Her recent speech to the UN Fourth Committee was self-contradictory and a sham , given the deteriorating situation in the Kabyle region and Algeria’s refusal to let human rights monitors investigate extra-judicial killings committed by the Algerian Army during the civil war of the 1990’s.

Like the rest of the Algerian nationals who spoke on behalf of the human rights for Sahrawis warehoused by the Algerian Army in the Tindouf refugee camps, Boulmerka is in no position to call Morocco an occupier or discuss human rights in the region.

Instead of discussing” abuses” in Morocco, Ms. Boulmerka should have used her time to explain to the United Nations body the reasons behind her government’s refusal to let independent investigators look into thousands of disappearances blamed on Algeria’s security forces.

It is preposterous for Boulmerka to address self-determination in the Moroccan Sahara when the Kabyle people in Tizi-Ouzou are being denied their rights to self-governance.

She should worry about protecting the Kabyle community that is abused by terrorists and ignored by the security forces. Amazighs continue to complain about lack of protection from attacks by armed groups that remain “conveniently” active in their mountainous region.

The military backed regime in Algiers will not hold the Kabyles as a hostage for too long. Its plan to exploit insecurity and terrorism as a tool of « occupation » is coming to an end.

Hassan Masiky

Born in Kenitra, Morocco and based in Washington, Hassan Masiky (Hassan.masiky@gmail.com) is a Blogger and freelance writer. Hassan is a former spokesman for Amnesty International USA and worked as a consultant for USAID funded democracy projects in Mexico, ...