Rabat - Minister of Interior Abdelouafi Laftit said that police officers reacted in a “civilized” manner during their intervention to disperse a protest in support of the Hirak movement held July 8.
Rabat – Minister of Interior Abdelouafi Laftit said that police officers reacted in a “civilized” manner during their intervention to disperse a protest in support of the Hirak movement held July 8.
“Morocco knows no regression in terms of human rights and individual freedoms,” Laftit said during an oral questions session in Parliament on Tuesday, justifying the security policy carried by his department. The minister also spoke on the recent Rif demonstrations, including the one that was dispersed in Rabat on July 8.
While Morocco’s 2011 constitution affirms the rights to free expression and free assembly, for Laftit, the organization of Rabat’s sit-in “did not respect the law,” because the demonstrations “did not make an official declaration” and the organizing body “do not dispose of the legal quality which allows it to supervise citizens.”
The minister said that “the police intervened against the demonstrators in full respect of the law, the constitution, and the supervision of the prosecutor’s office,” stressing that those who criticize the intervention of the public forces “are guided and motivated by their political leanings.”
Laftit claimed that the Ministry of the Interior has not adopted a security approach against protest movements, explaining that the few interventions were exceptional and justified by the concern to protect public order.
In fact, the minister considered the police intervention to be “civilized,” claiming that police officers were provoked by demonstrators who were “pretending to faint.”
“Twelve people were taken to the hospital, even if their condition did not require it,” added Laftit, asking those who have evidence of the violence of the security forces to present it. Laftit finally specifies that any person proven to have violated the law “will be accountable for his actions and sanctioned.”
At 7 p.m. on July 8 at the heart of Rabat, several human rights activists gathered in front of the Moroccan parliament to denounce the politically motivated arrests of the Rif protesters, especially that of Silya Ziani, a prominent Amazigh singer and a leading voice in the Hirak movement.
What started as a civil and peaceful protest soon turned violent, and local police forcibly dispersed the gathering. Old women, underage activists, journalists all had a taste of police officers’ violence.
One video from the protest showed a journalist from the newsdaily Lakome being kicked and stomped by a group of officers.