Information on Berbers in Libya; their treatment by the Libyan authorities; whether there are known Berber political opposition groups or individuals [LBY37272.E]

According to the Minority Rights Group (MRG) World Directory of Minorities,

Berbers who retain the Berber language and customs are the largest non-Arab minority. They form only 4 per cent of the population and are concentrated in small isolated villages in the west (430).

Information on the treatment of Berbers in Libya further to that available in Country Reports 2000 is scarce. Country Reports 2000 states that:

The Government discriminates against and represses certain minorities and tribal groups. The Government continues to repress banned Islamic groups and exercises tight control over ethnic and tribal minorities, such as Amazighs (Berbers), Tuaregs, and Warfalla tribe members (2001).

A 4 May 2001 IPS report states that:

While the Berbers of Morocco and Algeria now enjoy a limited freedom, their counterparts in Libya are worse off. The government of Col. Moammar Kaddafi exercises tight control over all minorities, especially Berbers.
There are frequent allegations of discrimination based on ethnic status, particularly against Berbers in the interior and Tuaregs in the south of the oil-rich desert country.

According to a Libyan Berber Website entitled "Imazighen in Libya," there is an organization called the Libyan Tmazight Congress (Agraw a'Libi n'Tmazight, ALT) that was established on 17 September 2000 as an "Independent National Libyan Foundation" whose mission is to promote the T'mazight (Berber) cause in Libya. This organization is based in London, U.K.

For further information on the treatment of Berbers in Libya, please consult LBY36963.E, LBY37079 and LBY37081 of 19 April 2001, which are available at Regional Documentation Centres.

No further information on the Berbers in Libya, their treatment by the authorities and on Libyan Berber political groups could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Amazighen in Libya. 2001. "Libyan Tmazigh Congress." http://www.libyamazigh [Accessed 23 July 2000]

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2001. February 2001. United States Department of State.

Intern Press Service (IPS). 4 May 2001. Nizar al-Aly. Rights-North Africa: 5,000-Year-Old Culture Seeks Recognition." (NEXIS)

World Directories of Minorities. 1998. London: Minority Rights Group (MRG)

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB databases

Resources Centre's Country Files: Libya

Internet Sources including:

Amazigh World Congress

Amnesty International

Fédération Internationale des droits de l'homme (FIDH)

Human Rights Watch

Imazighen in Libya

Sijill - Human Rights Violations in Libya

World News Connection (WNC)