Rabat - Another round of demonstrations ignited across Jerada province on Friday, when four more local miners died while working in abandoned mine shafts. The social protests in Jerada are mainly voicing dissatisfaction about social disparities in the region.
Rabat – Another round of demonstrations ignited across Jerada province on Friday, when four more local miners died while working in abandoned mine shafts. The social protests in Jerada are mainly voicing dissatisfaction about social disparities in the region.
The situation in the eastern region escalated after a clash broke out between law enforcement and protesters on Wednesday, resulting in several injuries among security forces.
The prefecture of Jerada issued a statement earlier this week, saying that several members law enforcement were injured during an unauthorized Jerada sit-in, defying the Ministry of Interior decision to ban demonstrations in the region.
The ministry’s decision, however, did not prevent protesters from rallying in the streets of Jerada, correspondents told French news agency AFP.
Defiance of Ban Against Protests?
Following the protests that erupted on Wednesday in spite of the ban on unauthorized protests in the city, thousands of people marched on Friday to denounce security crackdowns and the arrest of nine protesters.
The protests began with a small group, who were then joined by hundreds of demonstrators, including children and women. Thousands marched, voicing their objections to social disparities and waving Moroccan flags, while others chanted the national anthem.
Morocco’s government, however, remains firm on its decision to ban unauthorized protests.. In a recent cabinet meeting held on Thursday in Rabat, officials emphasized that security forces have the unconditional right to intervene to enforce the law in accordance with legal provisions in the region.
After the cabinet meeting, Morocco’s Government Spokesperson Mustapha El Khalfi offered a press conference, during which he condemned the fake photographs of protesters injured by Jerada law enforcement that have been circulating on social media.
According to El Khalfi, the government is creating ambitious economic alternatives for the former mining town to respond to inhabitants’ demands for improved social conditions.
Friday’s demonstration came only a few days after the government released a statement, announcing its decision to ban unauthorized protests. However, El Khalfi stressed that peaceful demonstrations are allowed as long as demonstrators respect the law, which prohibits acts of violence and vandalism.
A New Hirak Movement?
Jerada’s protests hearken back to a series of social protests known as the Hirak movement that took place in Morocco’s northern province Al Hoceima between 2016 and 2017. The protests, which made economic and social demands–such as improved infrastructure and regional demilitarization–were initially sparked by the death of fishmonger who was crushed in a garbage truck as he tried to retrieve fish confiscated by the authorities.
The Al Hoceima protests were also deemed unauthorized by the Moroccan government, resulting in the arrest of more than 300 protesters, sentenced for participating in unlicensed protests and for “undermining” the country’s security.
Wednesday’s protests in Jerada have resulted in the arrest of nine people so far, charged with committing violent acts against law enforcement. A statement by the prefecture of Jerada states that protesters burned five police cars and caused extensive damage to law enforcement vehicles and equipment.