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Archive for the ‘Protests in Morocco’ Category

Moroccan protest leader’s 20-year sentence sets off marches

June 28, 2018

TANGIERS, Morocco (AP) — Hundreds of protesters marched in Morocco’s capital Wednesday to denounce the convictions of a charismatic protest movement leader and three other activists, all given the maximum prison sentence of 20 years over mass demonstrations touched off by the death of a fish seller.

The show of public anger over the convictions signaled anew that the discontent among Moroccans, originally anchored in the northern Rif region, was shared around the North African kingdom. Protesters in the capital, Rabat, gathered in front of the parliament building and then marched up a central avenue. Earlier in the day, there were protests in the northern town of Hoceima, the center of the Hirak Rif movement that represents the biggest challenge to the kingdom since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.

“Take us all to jail,” “We are all Rif” and “State, beware” were among the chants repeated by the many hundreds of protesters in Rabat as dozens of police office surveyed the crowd. Hirak Rif leader Nasser Zefzafi and the three activists were convicted late Tuesday of threatening state security. Fifty other activists in the 2017 Hirak Rif protests received sentences ranging from one to 15 years for lesser charges.

Mohammed Ziane, who represented the activists before they suspended their legal defense, said they would appeal. “The verdict will certainly not comfort spirits, especially since the Hirak demands have not been met,” Ziane said. “To send people to prison for 20 years for asking for their rights is clearly meant to scare. But we can already see it’s not scaring people.”

Protesters demanded that King Mohammed VI fulfill promises he made last year to build a school, a university and a hospital in the neglected Rif region. “May the people live, and may those who abuse power fall,” protesters cried out.

Zefzafi’s father told The Associated Press by telephone that his son received news of his conviction and sentence in a Casablanca prison five hours after the verdict. “He told me when I visited today that he doesn’t care if they imprison him for 20 or 30 years as long as he still believes in the cause,” Ahmad Zefzafi said.

He said his son smiled, adding that “hearing that the people are rallying behind him in protest makes him prouder to be where he is.” The seeds of the protest began in October 2016 when an impoverished fish seller in the Berber Rif region was crushed to death trying to retrieve a valuable swordfish seized by police and tossed into a garbage truck.

Zefzafi, who was arrested in June 2017 after a manhunt, quickly became the movement’s public face, demanding development and the creation of jobs in the Rif region, which has lagged economically. The uprising briefly spread to other parts of Morocco.

The Rif maintains a strong identity apart from Morocco, due largely to a brief stint as an independent republic from 1921-1926, when its legendary rebel leader, Abd el-Krim, defeated the Spanish army.

In 1959 and 1984, the current king’s father, Hassan II, crushed uprisings in the Rif — and never set foot in the region. Son Mohammed has traveled there. Soon after the 2017 protests, the Moroccan monarch promised development projects for the region and pardoned some of the hundreds of protesters who had been detained.

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Mass protest in northeast Morocco after two die in coal mine

2017-12-26

RABAT – Thousands of people protested in northeast Morocco on Monday against economic marginalization after two young men died while digging in an abandoned coal mine.

The deaths on Friday of the two brothers, aged 23 and 30, sparked a wave of anger in the city of Jerada, according to Moroccan media.

On Monday several thousand people gathered for a second day in a row to denounce harsh living conditions, Said Zeroual of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights said.

“The whole city is observing a general strike” in solidarity, he added.

The demonstrators have adopted the slogans of the Al-Hirak al-Shaabi movement that staged a string of protests this year in the neighboring Rif region.

Jerada, long dependent on mining, suffered a major blow in the late 1990s with the closure of a coal pit that employed 9,000 people.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=86564.

Police break up protest in northern Morocco

2017-01-05

AL-HOCEIMA – Police have dispersed a protest in Morocco’s northern city of Al-Hoceima, a rights group said Thursday, months after a local fishmonger’s death in a garbage truck sparked unrest.

Security forces broke up the protest in the city center late Wednesday as the demonstrators did not have a permit to protest, Mohamed Bassiri of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH) said.

Footage circulated on social media showed police chasing dozens of protesters from the city’s main square after asking them to end the sit-in with a megaphone.

It showed protesters on the ground who appeared to have been bruised, and other demonstrators being arrested. The protesters were later released, according to the AMDH.

Mouhcine Fikri, 31, was crushed to death on October 28 in a garbage truck as he tried to protest against the seizure and destruction of swordfish, which were not allowed to be caught at that time of year.

His death in the Rif — an ethnically Berber region long neglected and at the heart of a 2011 protest movement for reform — triggered protests nationwide.

Those protests have now stopped but activists in Al-Hoceima have continued to call for a thorough investigation, alongside broader demands for an end to widespread unemployment and corruption.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=80688.

Supporters protest jailing of Morocco journalist

September 27, 2013

Protesters seek release of Moroccan journalist jailed after report on al-Qaida video

RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Hundreds of people protested Thursday in support of a Moroccan journalist who was jailed after publishing a story about an al-Qaida video.

The prosecutor general announced this week that the journalist, Ali Anouzla, has been charged under Morocco’s anti-terrorism law with assisting and advocating terrorism.

The protesters in the capital, Rabat, alleged he has been jailed for his independent views and criticism of authorities.

Anouzla, editor of the Lakome website, published a story about and posted the video by al-Qaida’s north African affiliate.

The video, released earlier this month, was a rare attack on Morocco and accused the king of corruption.

Amnesty International said Anouzla’s jailing “sends the message that any discussion of terrorism … will be treated by the government of Morocco as a criminal offense.”

If found guilty, Anouzla faces a maximum sentence of six years in prison.

Morocco: Protests as 24 Sahrawis tried

2013-02-01

Rabat – Rival protests were held on Friday outside a military tribunal in the Moroccan capital where 24 Sahrawis accused of killing members of the security forces in the Western Sahara in 2010 are being tried.

The politically charged trial, which is being attended by a number of independent foreign observers, has been repeatedly delayed, with the defendants held in custody for more than two years.

The authorities say 11 people died in the clashes, among them members of the security forces, which broke out as the army moved to dismantle the Gdim Izik camp where thousands of local Sahrawis were living in November 2010.

The Sahrawis arrested during the unrest are accused of violence against the security forces, of pre-meditated killing and of mutilating the victims’ bodies.

Some 100 people demonstrated outside the court in Rabat on Friday, among them families of the victims, pro-Saharwi activists and relatives of the accused, many of whom were allowed to attend the trial, an AFP journalist said.

Some relatives of the victims remained outside the tribunal, waving banners that read: “We know who the killers are, so where is justice?”

Ahead of the trial, observers and rights groups expressed concern over allegations the defendants were tortured in custody, about the case being tried by a military court, and about the possible death penalty facing the accused, if convicted.

At dawn on 8 November 2010, Moroccan security forces moved to dismantle the Western Sahara camp, near the territory’s main city of Laayoune, which thousands of Sahrawis had set up in protest over their living conditions.

The intervention sparked clashes that spread to nearby Laayoune, where businesses and public buildings were looted and torched.

The authorities said 11 were killed in the unrest, while the Algeria-based Polisario Front separatists said dozens of people lost their lives.

Morocco annexed the former Spanish colony in 1975, in a move never recognized by the international community.

The Polisario Front launched its struggle for independence even before the annexation, with the resulting war lasting until 1991 when the UN brokered a ceasefire, but a settlement of the conflict still remains elusive.

– AFP

Source: News24.

Link: http://www.news24.com/Africa/News/Morocco-Protests-as-24-Sahrawis-tried-20130201.

Morocco protest rallies draw thousands

2011-09-26

Moroccans rallied in Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakech and Tangier on Sunday (September 25th), following a call for demonstrations by the February 20 Movement, Yabiladi reported. The Casablanca protest, which demanded political reforms and anti-corruption measures, drew some 10,000 people. In Rabat, some 1,000 people demonstrated for the release of political prisoners, including young rapper Mouad Al-Haqed, who was arrested on September 10th.

Source: Magharebia.
Link: http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/newsbriefs/general/2011/09/26/newsbrief-05.

Anti-regime protests resume in Morocco

Mon Sep 26, 2011

Thousands of Moroccans have once again taken to the streets to call for deep political changes despite recent reforms aimed at curbing powers of King Mohammed VI.

The demonstrations were held in the country’s biggest city of Casablanca as well as in Tangiers, Marrakesh and the capital city of Rabat on Sunday, AFP reported.

The demonstrations were organized by the February 20 movement, named after the date Moroccans, inspired by revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, first began their anti-government protests.

Protesters urged the government to fight corruption and called for “more social justice.

Demonstrators in Rabat also called for the release of a protester detained during rallies in Casablanca in June.

The king’s proposed reforms received people’s positive vote in a referendum on July 1. However, critics believe the changes do not go far enough.

The reforms include the transfer of some of the powers of the king to the prime minister and the parliament, but the king will remain the head of state and the military as well as the highest religious authority in the country.

The Moroccan government has announced that the country’s parliamentary elections will be held in November.

Source: PressTV.
Link: http://www.presstv.com/detail/201173.html.

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