Moroccan Groups to March in Rabat to Demand Hirak Activists’ Release

A protester holds a portrait of protest movement leader Nasser Zefzafi and shouts slogans during a demonstration against corruption and official abuses, in the Rif region in Rabat, Morocco June 11, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES

Rabat – The Amazigh World Assembly and the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) are planning a march in Rabat on Sunday, April 21, to condemn the judicial system’s treatment of Hirak activists.

On April 5, the Casablanca Court of Appeals upheld the sentences handed down in June 2018 to 54 Hirak activists.

The 11 a.m. march will protest what the assembly called the “heavy and vengeful sentences” and “unfair trials” of activists who participated in the 2016-2017 mass protests known as the Hirak Rif.

Read also: Police Allegedly Prevent Hirak Activist From Flying out of Morocco

The assembly wrote in a statement on Facebook that it will demand the “immediate release of all Hirak prisoners” and an end to what it called a “masquerade,” referring to the legal proceedings in the imprisoned activists’ trials.

The Hirak movement in Morocco’s northern Rif region, the association said, was the result of 60 years of “marginalization, exclusion, repression, and terror” that has driven the people of the Rif to immigrate to Europe.

Read also: International Petition Demands Morocco Release Hirak Rif Activists

The Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH) also stated it would join the march on Sunday, calling on activists to also take part.

On Sunday, April 14, the “committee of popular Hirak in Tamassint” and relatives of the imprisoned activists marched in Tamassint, a village near Al Hoceima in northern Morocco.

The activists received sentences ranging from one to 20 years in prison.

The death of a fishmonger stirred up the protests in the Rif region. Mohcine Fikri died in a garbage truck when trying to retrieve his confiscated fish. Afterwards, mass protests broke out in the streets of Al Hoceima, with hundreds of the city’s inhabitants demanding social and economic equality.

The protests drew the sympathy of a number of international human rights organizations and government officials.

On April 3, 24 members of the European Parliament and one member of the Council of Europe addressed a letter to Morocco’s Minister of Justice Mohamed Aujjar, calling for the release of the Hirak activists.