Tuesday , August 22 2017

Open Letter Regarding the Human Rights Situation in Rif

Monday June 12, 2017

Re: Gravely concerned over the continuous repression in the Rif region in northern Morocco.

Your Excellencies,

We, the undersigned international, regional, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), write to share our serious concerns about the deteriorating human rights situation in Rif, a region of Morocco located in the North part of the country lived by an Amazigh-Berber- population, known for experiencing a long history of marginalization, neglect, and brutal repression.

Arrests and detentions of human rights activists, civilians, journalist and opposition figures have multiplied since late October 2016 when peaceful protests began, as a reaction to the death of a young fish vendor, Mouhcine Fikri, who was crushed to death in a garbage compactor while attempting to retrieve fish that the police had confiscated and thrown away.

These protests have increased in size and number, initially around Al Hoceima city, and spreading to other towns of the Rif, supported by gatherings of other Amazigh population in other parts and major cities of Morocco, as well as abroad in the Amazigh Diaspora.

The response of the government of Morocco has not been an effort to listen to the legitimate griefs of its citizens, but a repressive one: troops have been sent to the Rif area to squelch the movement, and the arrests of over 100 leading activists have aggravated the situation. In these events, the flagrant disregard of the Rif people’s human rights has become quite manifest. A cry for help has come out of the young leadership of the Amazigh movement, calling out for support in their struggle to be heard in their legitimate demands for improvement in their social and economic lives, and to bring international attention to the disregard of their human rights by the Moroccan government.

The Moroccan authorities have justified the arrests of its young leaders on the pretext that their call for action and cries for justice are a threat to the welfare of the nation, thus rendering any forceful retaliation necessary. This is a travesty of the situation as it exists for a population which has suffered immensely in the remote and recent pasts.

There are nearly 130 Amazigh detainees in Morocco. The most prominent cases include:

• Nasser Zafzafi
• Mohamed Jelloul
• Mouhamed Elmajjaoui
• Issam Achhbar
• Ayman Fikri
• Silya Ziani
• Nabil Ahamjik
• Mohamed Boulaarassi
• Ilyas El Hajji
• Ayman Fikri
• Abdelilah Bensiaamar
• Khalid Cheikh
• Wassim Boubouh
• Youssef El Fakih
• Yahya El Fakih
• Ayoub Zaghdoud
• Achraf El Yakhloufi
• Hossain El Idrissi
• Mohamed El Majjaoui
• Amin Bouhaddou
• Tarik Anissi
• Omar Bouhras
• Karim El Boukri
• Ibrahim Bouzian
• Othman Bouzian
• Mourad Zafzafi
• Jaouad Hammouti
• Ouassim El Boustati
• Ahmed El Karroudi
• Bilal Farou
• Lhaurdin Chanhout
• Samir Taghdouini
• Bilal Ahabbad
• Bilal El Yahyaoui
• Mohamed Afasi
• Adil El Hachmi
• Izddin El Garrah
• Fouad Essaidi
• Mouhamed Fadel
• El Mortada Imarechen
• Houssein Idrissi
• Ahmed Sultan
• Anass El Khattabi
• Badr Agraf
• ILyass EL Moutaoukil
• Karim Amghar
• Mohamed El Asrihi
• Jawad Sabiri
• Abdel Ali Heddou

In addition, family members of activists are being targeted.

To avoid imposition of such sanctions, and consistent with its commitments as a member of the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and other international agreements and covenants, we demand the government of Morocco needs to undertake the following steps:

  • Release of all Amazigh-Rif detainees and those imprisoned for practicing their non-violent protest and grant them full political rehabilitation.
  • Cease harassment and intimidation of family members of the Rif movement leaders and human rights defenders in Morocco.
  • Respect the rights of journalists to do their job unhindered.
  • Permit both local and foreign broadcasters to resume operations without fear of state harassment and raids.

To support the struggle of the Rif people, we have decided to lunch a worldwide campaign to issue this statement in the hope to create an international concern which will bring change in the way Morocco treats its autochthonous Amazigh citizens, in the Rif and other rural areas of Morocco (Souss, Atlas mountains), granting them the same social, economic and human rights as those of other citizens. The militarization of the Rif region must stop, and the use of violence by governmental forces against peaceful demonstrators needs to cease.

We hope that Morocco will succeed as a democratic state fully integrated into the international community. We support efforts to resolve peacefully the ongoing Rif Protests. But none of this is possible as long as Morocco continues down the authoritarian path it is currently on.

The government of Morocco cannot be both a respected member of the international community and a repressive, kleptocratic autocracy. It must choose. We urge it to choose democracy and respect for human rights, a course that is in the best interests of the people of Morocco and in the cause of international peace.

Signed,

Amazigh Cultural Network in America
Boston Amazigh Community
Assemblée Mondiale Amazighe -Belgium
The U.S support committee of the Rif’s People movement
Association Tamaynut – Morocco
Tazzla Institute for Cultural diversity – Los Angeles, California
Amazigh Community in New Jersey
Movement for the Autonomy of Rif (MAR)
Sifaks Association – Utrecht, Netherlands
The Frankfurt support committee of the Rif’s People movement

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