Black Spring

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a violent uprising, from april to august 2001, against state security forces in the northeastern algerian region of kabylia.

Between April and August 2001, the Kabyle provinces in northeastern Algeria witnessed a violent uprising of local youth against national gendarmes that has become known as the Black Spring. On 18 April, high school student Massinissah Guermah died of gunshot wounds received while in police custody in the village of Beni Douala, on the outskirts of Tizi-Ouzou. Occurring on the eve of the twenty-first anniversary of the Berber Springthe 1980 insurrection of Kabyle students for Berber cultural and linguistic rightsand in a civil war context of violence and socioeconomic marginalization, Guermah's death transformed a generalized sense of despair into one of explicit outrage against the state and drew thousands of male youths into the streets throughout the region. "Refusing pardon" to Guermah's "assassins," they attacked state security forces and government buildings with rocks and homemade Molotov cocktails. The gendarmes responded with tear gas and live ammunition, launching a four-month cycle of protest and violent repression in which over one hundred local residents were killed and as many as five hundred injured.

The Black Spring brought about the emergence of a new political actor, the Coordination des Archs (CADC), which quickly became the principal Kabyle representative in the ongoing dialogue with the state. Whereas the institutionalized Kabyle political parties had failed to control the conflict, this informal committee of village and tribal assemblies succeeded in directing a series of general strikes and a 500,000-person Black March in Tizi-Ouzou on 21 May.

see also berber spring; coordination des archs (algeria); kabylia; rassemblement pour la culture et la dÉmocratie (rcd).


Silverstein, Paul. "'No Pardon': Rage and Revolt in Kabylia." Middle East Insight 16, no. 4 (2001): 6165.

Paul Silverstein