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More arrested in Morocco crackdown on protests

20 June 2017 17:33

 

Moroccan authorities have arrested more people in relation to anti-government protests in the North African Arab country.

Lawyers and rights groups said on Tuesday that more activists had been arrested over involvement in protests across Morocco.

“There are arrests on a daily basis,” said Abdessadak Elbouchattaoui, a lawyer, adding that, “On average, there are about four arrests a day, sometimes reaching 10 a day.”

Morocco’s Ministry of Justice would not comment on reports about the growing number of arrests. It has not updated statements about arrests since June 6, when authorities brought charges against Nasser Zefzafi, the leader of the Hirak al Chaabi or the Popular Movement, which has spearheaded popular protests since the end of May.

Ministry officials told a parliament session last week that the arrests, which have mainly targeted protesters in the northern city of Hoceima, had been carried out by security forces who acted with “maturity, responsibility, wisdom, and in accordance with legal provisions.”

Security forces seize a demonstrator in Rabat on June 20, 2017 during a protest in support of the grassroots movement for the neglected Rif region in Morocco. (AFP photo)

 

Protests began in Hoceima over the gruesome death of a fishmonger who died after he struggled to recover confiscated fishes. Thousands of people took to the streets in Hoceima and later in other cities when they heard that Mouhcine Fikri was crushed to death inside a garbage truck. The months-long demonstrations have been described as the largest in scale since a political uprising in Morocco in 2011.

Police on Monday dispersed a demonstration in the capital Rabat involving human rights activists who had attempted to mobilize in solidarity with Hirak. Protesters in Hoceima have warned that they would stage a massive march on the holy Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr next weekend if Hirak protesters are not released from prison. Sources close to the palace of King Mohammed VI, who remains the ultimate power in Morocco, have suggested that the monarch might issue a royal pardon for the prisoners on the religious occasion, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

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