Following the Popular march of Rabat of the 15th July, 2017, La Via Campesina supports the Vital Forces in Morocco and calls for the release of the detainees of Hirak RIF and all social movements activists, for the opening of an investigation on the torture and ill-treatment they suffered, and for accomplishing their demands
We, from La Via Campesina, the international peasant movement, were shocked when learning about the verdicts and heavy prison sentences handed down against 52 detainees of the Rif social movement in northern Morocco, who were prosecuted before the criminal court of first instance of the Casablanca Appeals Tribunal.
The sentences reached 20 years of prison for four activists, including the leader of the Hirak, Nacer Zefzafi, 15 years for three others, 10 non-suspended years for seven, 5 non-suspended years for ten others, 3 years for eight, and 2 non-suspended years for twenty other activists, more than three centuries total.
In most cases, detainees have been accused of instigating, participating in, or being complicit in, acts of public disturbance, but without providing any evidence of their individual criminal responsibility in acts of violence; unauthorized demonstrations not being a reason for imprisonment as long as they remain peaceful. Since when did claiming economic alternatives represent a breach of public order?
The Hirak Rif was initiated in October 2016 following the horrific death of Mohssine Fikri, a fisherman from the city of Al-Hoceima, crushed by a compressor of a garbage truck in a humiliating and surreal scene. The peaceful movement that followed, after six months of demands to which the Moroccan state had not answered other than with repression, resulted in the arrest of hundreds of demonstrators, many of whom suffered torture and ill-treatment, and were sentenced to more than 1,000 years in prison.
Hirak Rif is not the only social movement currently repressed in Morocco. In many regions, indigenous “Amazigh” rural ones in particular, the population living mainly from agriculture faces repression and even torture and prison as soon as it claims its right to development and to the wealth of its lands. This is the case of Jerada, Zagora, Seraghna, Imider, Oulmes, Outat Lhaj and many other regions.
We, from La Via Campesina:
- Proclaim our outrage at the unfair and biased trials of social movement activists who have peacefully demonstrated for legitimate social and economic demands.
- Call for the annulment of these sentences and the immediate release of detainees, who demanded their fundamental rights in peaceful protests, whether at the Rif, Jerada or other localities,
- Express our support for the detainees and their families, and call for the initiation of an investigation into the torture allegations made by the detainees during the trial.
- Recall that the demands of the Hirak Rif movement are fundamental rights that Morocco has committed to guarantee to its citizens, and demand that the Moroccan State respects its commitments related to the right to development and struggle against poverty and marginalization.
- Welcome all the organizations and Vital Forces in Morocco who went out on the streets to express their dissatisfaction on July 8th in Casablanca and July 15th in Rabat, to express their solidarity with the arbitrarily detained Hirak activists in Morocco, and demand their release, and especially our comrades at the National Federation of the Agricultural Sector (FNSA).
- Affirm our solidarity with all legitimate Moroccan social movements and the forms of protest adopted by the Moroccan people who fight for their dignity.
Globalize the Struggle! Globalize Hope!