The following statement, written by the families of a number of political detainees, was released last Tuesday (19th) by #FreeKoulchi (‘Free Everyone’), a day before those detainees began a co-ordinated, forty-eight hour hunger strike. On the second day, hunger-striking prisoners in Tanger 2 (i.e., Movement of the Rif detainees) were dispersed across several prisons – a ‘mesure de vengeance‘, as solidarity groups described it to the YaBiladi news site.
The following translation is based on the Arabic version of the families’ statement. A graphic from #FreeKoulchi can be found below; group’s Twitter handle is @FreeKoulchi.
A statement for national and international public opinion
We, the families of the Movement of the Rif detainees (Nasser Zafzafi, Nabil Ahamjik, Mohamed Jelloul, Mohamed El Haki, Samir Ighid, and Zakaria Adahchour), the journalists Souleiman Raissouni and Omar Radi, and the university professor Maati Monjib, announce to national and international public opinion and all human-rights defenders that our sons (in Tanjer 2; Oukasha, Casablanca; and El Oulja, in the Salé region) will observe a 48-hour hunger strike on Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st of January.
This symbolic hunger strike is in protest against the continuing, securitised management of the right to peaceful protest, to freedoms of the press, opinion, and expression, and the right to organise.
Unbiased observers of the human rights situation in our country – including national and international human rights organisations, reports and observations from various UN bodies and UN Human Rights Council rapporteurs, and the independent national and international press – have unanimously agreed that there are systematic violations of such rights in Morocco, whose frequency has increased over recent years.
We underline that the steady stifling of freedoms and rights has benefited, firstly, from the decline of importance of interest in human rights in the hierarchy of international political priorities (particularly with the coming to power of right-wing, ultra-nationalist currents in many countries), and secondly, from the instrumentalisation of the COVID-19 pandemic by authoritarian forces as a means to extend restrictions, controls, and autocratic rule, and to stymie the work of human-rights defenders.
We have all been close witnesses to the human rights breaches and violations in the treatment of the Popular Movement of the Rif, the journalists [Taoufik] Bouachrine, [Souleiman] Raissouni, and [Omar] Radi, and of the academic Maati Monjib, which include the repression of peaceful protest, torture, fabrication of accusations, unfair trials, the prolongation of police custody, defamation, et cetera.
This symbolic hunger strike is a call to remind all concerned that the continuation of political detention is evidence of the Moroccan state’s failure to comply with commitments it has ratified, whether they be international charters and agreements (and their annexed protocols) relating to a respect for human rights, or those commitments to external partners: nations, international organisations, and continental and regional federations.
With all the symbolism it carries, this warning strike is a declaration of the rejection of arbitrary detention, unjust trials, the repression of peaceful protests, torture, the stifling of the freedom of opinion, the defamation of dissidents, and the securitised management of the public sphere.
As families in solidarity with our relatives [ابنائنا], we hold the Moroccan state responsible for whatever may befall them, and call on it to not only proceed with their immediate release, but also to break with it security approach when dealing with opponents, journalists, social movements, and the peaceful expression of opinion.