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Rif Protest Lawyer: We Are Still Fighting for Freedom of Detained Activists, Incl. Zafzafi

Rif Protest Lawyer: We Are Still Fighting for Freedom of Detained Activists, Incl. Zafzafi

By Safaa Kasraoui

Rabat – Isaak Charia, a member of the detained Rif activists’ defense team, has denied claims that leading activist Nasser Zafzafi would be released on probation after not being named among King Mohammed VI’s royal pardons this weekend.

On July 29, the eve of the 18th anniversary of Throne Day, the King ordered the release of 1,178 prisoners. Those pardoned included 56 members of the Hirak protest movement in the Rif, most notably Salima “Silya” Ziani and Rabii El Ablak.

Following the pardon, media reports claimed that Zafzafi and other detainees not included in the list of pardoned might be released on probation to alleviate ongoing tensions in the Rif region.

On Monday, Moroccan daily newspaper Akhbar Al Yaoum reported that the detainees’ defense committee had filed a request to award the prisoners a provisional release. This request was reported unsuccessful, leading the committee to file an appeal against the refusal.

The newspaper continued that Abdelsadek El Bouchtaoui, a member of the defense committee, said that they were expecting a positive response to the appeal in the upcoming hearing session scheduled for this week.

When asked about the validity of news, Charia told Morocco World News that the committee had “no expectation about the provisional release of the remaining detainees,” and that the “battle of the defense is still continuing to defend the remaining detainees.”

“Those are just claims, we do not have any speculations on what will come and we do not have an idea about the judge’s reaction regarding the probation request.”

Akhbar Al Yaoum added that Abdelmajid Azryah, another defense committee member, stated the legal team had received a report showing that the number of prisoners benefiting from the royal pardon was between 30 and 38, as opposed to the widely reported number of 56.

The lawyer added that only ten detainees who were jailed in Al Hoceima’s local prison were released. The source continued that El Bouchtaoui described the royal pardon action as “a positive step, but not enough, because we are seeking the release of all the Rif detainees.”

The Hirak movement started after the death of Mouhcine Fikri, a local fish vendor, who was killed by a garbage truck on October 28. Since then, the Rif region has witnessed massive demonstrations resulting in clashes between security forces and protesters. Approximately 178 protesters have been arrested during the eight-month protest period.

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