MOROCCO: Demonstration in the Rif, the echo of social and political inequalities

Justice and the Rule of Law, Maghreb, Morocco / Western Sahara, Statement

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On Sunday 11 June, thousands of Moroccans gathered in Rabat in solidarity with the demonstrators of the Rif (region in northern Morocco). EuroMed Rights adds its voice to their call, and emphasizes its great concern regarding the Moroccan authorities’ repression of protesters and the pacific social movements taking place in the region.

Since 28 October 2016, date of the death of Mouhcine Fikri, a fishmonger crushed by a dumpster while trying to save his confiscated food, the inhabitants of the city of Al-Hoceima and its surroundings have been taking part in daily demonstrations. They are calling for the observance of their economic and social rights and denouncing corruption and abuses by the government.

Several dozens of demonstrators have been arrested over the past few weeks, and now find themselves charged with the most serious offenses. Following the arrest of Nasser Zefzafi, considered to be the leader of Hirak (“the movement” in Arabic), social unrest has spread to the entire Rif region and could reach other regions of the Kingdom of Morocco, threatening the country’s stability. These daily and regular demonstrations are the largest of their kind since the 2011 uprisings.

EuroMed Rights condemns these arbitrary arrests that are in total violation with the Kingdom’s own legislation and international obligations, and it deplores the reaction of the Moroccan authorities which have chosen the path of repression. We call on Morocco to put an end to the arbitrary measures taken against the demonstrators and to guarantee the conditions of access to a fair trial for all.

We call on all stakeholders to begin a responsible and transparent dialogue aimed at exiting the crisis as soon as possible and at ensuring observance of the most fundamental of human rights, in particular the freedom of expression and the freedom of peaceful assembly.

EuroMed Rights also calls for an impartial and independent inquiry aimed at shedding light on the events and the human rights violations that took place there.

EuroMed Rights welcomes the efforts made by civil society in the region aimed at initiating mediation with the authorities and recalls the importance of cooperation with civil society.