BIOGRAPHY : FERHAT MEHENNI

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Naissance : 05/03/1951 en Kabylie sur les bords de la Méditerranée.
Birthdate: March 5, 1951
Birthplace: Kabylia, on the Mediterranean coastal line
Ferhat Mehenni started school only in 1963, at the age of 12, because of the Algerian war of liberation (1954-1962) in which he lost his father. He earned a degree in political science from the University of Algiers.
Ferhat Mehenni always had to face the Algerian military dictatorship. He was arrested 12 times and was sentenced to three years in prison for being one of the founders of the first Algerian League of Human Rights in 1985. While in incarceration, he helped his fellow inmates – who could not read or write – by writing for them.
Since the beginning of the nineteen seventies, in a stifled society, he challenged the dictatorship in restoring a voice to citizens through songs and debates with which he always ended his musical tours.
By the word and melody, he gave to his people and Berbers of North Africa, a voice and ways of resisting peacefully the politics of depersonalization to which they have been submitted since the decolonization of their countries from France.
Despite the torture and imprisonment, threats and intimidation, deprivation and the life in a large family, he has always fought for freedom, human rights and the rights of peoples to freedom.
In 1989, he was one of the four founders of the Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) for which he was National Secretary for Culture and Heritage.
When Islamist terrorism killed mostly intellectuals, he denounced fundamentalism and assassinations through his songs. In 1994, when the violence was widespread between the Islamists and the Algerian army, Ferhat Mehenni organized a school boycott throughout the 1994-1995 school year. To violence and the sound of guns, he preferred to use the strength of words and peace. As a result of this action, the High Commission for Amazigh (HCA) was created; an institution that is responsible for teaching the mother tongue of Amazigh peoples of Algeria. The Berbers of Morocco have also benefited from the work of Ferhat Mehenni for the recognition and formalization of their language.
As a committed singer and an avid activist for human rights and democracy, he was the leader of the Berber Cultural Movement from 1980 to 2001. When the Algerian gendarmes fired at peaceful Kabyle demonstrators killing over 120 of them, Ferhat Mehenni founded the Movement for Self-Determination of Kabylia. The murder of his son in Paris on 19/06/2004 is, according to him, the work of the Algerian authorities who wanted to punish him for his daring claim of freedom and peace for the Kabyle people.
He has been the chairman of Anavad, the Provisional Government of Kabylia in exile, since 01/06/2010.

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