By Safaa Kasraoui
Rabat – Moroccan police officers have arrested two additional people during the ongoing protests of Al Hoceima on Friday.
An AFP correspondent has reported that [three] people were arrested in Al Hoceima including Mohammed Al Hilali, director of a local news platform, RifPress. A local authority, however, affirmed to AFP that only two arrests were made on Friday.
More than 130 people have been detained since the arrest of Nasser Zafzafi, the most prominent leader of Al Hoceima protest. He was arrested on May 29 for “undermining interior state security” and “obstructing freedom of worship.”
Zafzafi interrupted a Friday prayer sermon in the Mohammed V mosque in Al Hoceima in protest of the sermon’s content, which he said was critical of the protest movement. Since then, a number of demonstrations have been organized in other cities, especially in Al Hoceima and the surrounding areas.
Thousands of demonstrators expressed their concern over the shaky situation in the Al Hoceima and the detention of protesters, urging the government to release protest detainees and respond to their social and economic demands.
The detainees’ lawyers have claimed that five of them, including Zafzafi and Nabil Ahamjik, have been protesting against their conditions of detention and threatened to start a three-day hunger strike.
Abdessadek El Bouchtaoui, a lawyer for the detainees said that “They were placed in solitary confinement, which is a punitive measure even though they have not been tried.”
AFP has said a source close to one of the detainees claimed that “despite he was not physically violated in the prison, this person has been jailed in deplorable conditions.”
The same source added that “the detainee has been wearing the same clothes since his arrest […] he has lost a lot of weight.”
AFP also reported that prison guards forbid detainees to speak Riffain (local dialect) with their visitors.
AFP claimed that it contacted the prison administration on Friday to check the validity of the reported news, however, the administration “did not submit any comment.”
Earlier this month, Government spokesperson, Mustapha Khalfi, had announced during a coalition government weekly meeting that “there are higher instructions [from King Mohammed VI] to medically examine anyone who claims to have been tortured.”
He added that that the detainees have all the legal guarantee to a fair trial “the higher instructions stress the application of the law severely.”
Seven months of protests have followed the death in October of Mouhcine Fikri, a fishmonger who was fatally crushed in a garbage truck trash compactor while attempting to retrieve his merchandise, which had been confiscated and thrown away by authorities.