Rabat - While protesters in the Rif call for the release of detained activists, government spokesperson Mustapha Khalfi has announced that a total of 86 demonstrators have been arrested.
Rabat – While protesters in the Rif call for the release of detained activists, government spokesperson Mustapha Khalfi has announced that a total of 86 demonstrators have been arrested.
While speaking in a press conference held Thursday in Rabat following the government coalition’s weekly meeting, Khalfi stated that 16 of those arrested are currently being prosecuted in Al Hoceima Court of Appeals, and 32 in the city’s Court of First Instance.
Khalfi, who is also the Delegate Minister to the Head of Government for Relations with Parliament and Civil Society, said Khalfi went on to add that 38 people are being prosecuted in the National Brigade of the Judicial Police. Thirty-one of this number have been placed in pre-trial detention and seven in custody.
Responding to claims that the detained activists have been tortured, Khalfi said that anyone who says they have been tortured will be medically examined, citing orders from King Mohammed VI. He noted that the law will be applied in cases where such these claims are proven.
Khalfi mentioned that Head of Government Saad Eddine Othmani has plans to visit the region of Al Hoceima, without specifying the exact date.
Earlier this week, Moroccan intellectuals, including writer and poet Abdellatif Laabi, the writer and Mohamed Ahrouba, and the journalist Fatima El Ifriqi, issued a communqiué saying that that the first step to put an end to the “Hirak” movements in the Rif is to release all detained activists and began a dialogue with the representatives of the region.
“The first step to finding an effective solution to what is happening in the Rif is to release all the detainees of the movement and to engage in an immediate and wise dialogue with the representatives of the region in order to respond to the citizens’ legitimate social, cultural and economic rights,” the statement said.
Protests erupted in the region following the death of fishmonger Mouhcine Fikri, who was fatally crushed in a garbage compactor in October 2016. Since then, 700 sit-ins have been held in the region of Al Hoceima.
Tensions have grown in the region in the past two weeks following the police’s pursuit and arrest of leading activist Nasser Zafzafi. He was taken to custody last Monday along with many other activists after interrupting a Friday sermon he felt was unfairly denouncing the “Hirak” movement, and was transferred to Casablanca for investigation. Zafzafi has been charged with “obstructing the right of worship” and “undermining state security.”
Through his lawer, Zafzafi has refuted the government’s claims that the protests were motivated by separatism and foreign funding.