MARK COLVIN: The killing of Osama bin Laden diverted some of the world's attention from Libya, where the savage fighting continues in cities like Misrata.
But the war has had its effects in lesser-known parts of Libya too. The north-west of the country, in the wild mountains near the Tunisian borders, is the traditional home of the Amazigh people, also called Berbers. They've seen themselves as an oppressed minority under Colonel Gaddafi's rule.
Gaddafi's forces have been attacking the Western Mountains hard, laying siege to their towns and creating a refugee crisis. But it's hard terrain for conventional armies, and the Berbers now have some mountain towns to themselves.
One result, a virtual media empire is booming in the Western mountains.
Mazigh is a Berber who spent four years in Australia, and graduated from Narwee High School in Sydney in 1998. He spoke to us from what he called the 'Nafusa Mountain Media Centre
MAZIGH: Yes we have a newspaper, I mean not only one, we have almost four or five from different towns and cities. I'm the editor of one of them. It's called Tidlee (phonetic) in Tamazight which means freedom. Our journal is published in two languages; Tamazight, the native and Arabic. The first time we published in Tamazight for almost 42 years.
MARK COLVIN: Was it a banned language?
MAZIGH: Well it's not a banned language but it's not been recognised by the regime for almost 42 years.
MARK COLVIN: So you couldn't get a licence to print a newspaper in that language?
MAZIGH: It's actually not only a newspaper or a journal, also in the media we cannot use it in the media. We don't have a news broadcasted in Tamazight. We cannot get an album music, album in the Tamazight and distributed in Libya.
Also you know we had in the '90s an article announced by the regime, it's called Article 24 which does not give the right for a newborn child in the Nafusa Mountain to have an Amazigh name so the article says that only an Arabic and an Islamic name should be given to a newborn name and Amazigh names are forbidden and there's a list of the Amazigh names that are forbidden.
MARK COLVIN: What were the penalties and have you suffered from that yourself?
MAZIGH: Well you pay you know 5,000 dinars and also you not allowed to have the Libyan passport or not being considered as a Libyan national.
MARK COLVIN: But what about your own experience?
MAZIGH: Being an activist in the Amazigh cultural movement actually I've been arrested and jailed by the regime and I've been released on the 19th February of this year after the uprising.
MARK COLVIN: So you were jailed in December and only released because of the uprising?
MAZIGH: Yeah, the uprising, yeah.
MARK COLVIN: And what were the charges?
MAZIGH: Well the charges are calling for Tamazight language to be official in Libya, to be used in the school and the university, to have an academy for Tamazight research, also for my political articles criticising Gaddafi himself and his sons and the regime.
MARK COLVIN: And what were the conditions like in jail?
MAZIGH: Well, you know, the first 40 days I've been actually in an intelligent jail and my family couldn't know where we are and we didn't know where we are. Actually I was …
MARK COLVIN: You mean a jail run by the state intelligence bureau?
MAZIGH: Yes by the intelligence yeah. And I was in an individual cell for a time, you know, being kind of like in isolating from my brother and the room was very small room and you have a door painted black and only a small window out of it and actually you know the only thing that we had to eat every day, cheese and bread.
MARK COLVIN: You've obviously been an activist and a writer, what is the broader feeling in that region about the Gaddafi regime, the Gaddafi family?
MAZIGH: It's very well known by all Libyans, for 42 years we did not give a loyalty to him. He knows us very well. We were opposition from the beginning, from the '69. We were against his regime and he arrested and he jailed and he assassinated a lot from our intellectuals and he knows us very well.
So from the uprising we were the first in the line you know will be a revolution, with our assistance with our brothers in Benghazi and the eastern side of Libya.
MARK COLVIN: So what's the military situation now?
MAZIGH: Yesterday and today it's a bit calm but the last two weeks or three weeks there was a very heavy battle and different frontlines and the borders between Libya and Tunisia wasn't, now it's in the control of the freedom fighters, the opposition, and we had actually heavy battle with the Gaddafi forces in the Yefren and Al-Qalaa and also in the east area of Zintan and until now my town Yefren, it's been seized by the Gaddafi forces for almost two weeks, you know.
There's no humanitarian aid or support which is to Yefren and Al-Qalaa but still you know the opposition or the freedom fighters are trying to hold their position and now in the Nafusa mountain we have a unified military forces; it's called the Nafusa Mountain United Forces and there's a plan, you know, with the coming days to liberate Yefren and Al-Qalaa from the Gaddafi forces and march all the way to the other Nafusa Mountain towns.
MARK COLVIN: So you are pretty optimistic then; that- is it because Gaddafi's forces are so much concentrated elsewhere?
MAZIGH: Well it's not like that it's just the thing is that the majority of the Gaddafi forces are in the foot of the mountain. We have only a few that, you know, managed to get up to the mountain and try to place their positions but for us geographic landscape it's, you know, it's kind of helpful for the freedom fighters to attack and withdraw the Gaddafi forces and defeat them so that's the thing you know.
MARK COLVIN: What about NATO? Have they taken any notice of you at all?
MAZIGH: Not a lot. Well actually we admit that there were strikes by NATO last week but it's not enough because you know the thing is that, it's, the target is clear, you know. The military council here are contacting the Benghazi Military Council and they give them the coordinates, all that but the process may be slow for them.
But as I said the target is very clear for them, especially those, the forces, Gaddafi forces on the foot of the mountain. It's a clear target and there's no civilians in that area.
MARK COLVIN: Mazigh, speaking to me from the Nafusa Mountains in Western Libya.
source : abc.net.au
Lien : http://libyatadreft.com/