<Guest Post> Ghassan Koumiya on the demonstrations in Morocco

Submitted by Vijay Prashad on Mon, 10/09/2017 - 08:03

 

[Glad to welcome Ghassan Koumiya, a young scholar, to my blog. For some background about what Ghassan writes, you can see my diary of travels earlier this year through Morocco - including in the Rif - published in The Hindu]

 

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On October 8, thousands of people flooded the streets of Casablanca to protest against the Moroccan regime’s fierce crackdown on peaceful protests in the Rif region (in the north of Morocco).

 

Protest in Casablanca (October 8)
Protest in Casablanca (October 8)

 

Call for the protest came from leftist youth, the Left Democratic Federation (FGD) and the Annahj Dimocrati (Democratic Way). The protest was supported by many other democratic organizations and by trade unions. The people chanted slogans to demand three things:

  1. For the release of political prisoners (now numbering at least 410).
  2. For the government officials who were responsible for the repression and massacres against the popular movements to be held to account.
  3. For the social and economic demands of the popular masses to be acknowledged and brought into State policy.

 

Demands for release of political prisoners.
Demands for release of political prisoners.

 

Yout from across the country came to Casablanca's streets. But the call for popular mobilization swept different cities, towns and rural areas across Morocco. Authorities have secured the Rif region - making it a heavily militarized zone. Peaceful protests have been repressed there by the State authorities.

 

A wide range of people came to the streets of Casablanca.
A wide range of people came to the streets of Casablanca.

 

These demonstrations are part of a series of protests that began in October 2016, when a fishmonger Mohcen Fikri, was crushed to death in a garbage compactor in Houceima City. Fikri was trying to save his load of swordfish, which had been confiscated by the police. He died before their eyes. Protests have grown significantly in the Rif, where Fikri was killed, and elsewhere. People took to the streets to denounce this atrocious crime. They called for those responsible for Fikri's death to be held accountable and to demand social and economic rights.