Waves of arrests followed one after the other among the ranks of activists who are part of the movement “ON ROAD 96″ since October 2011 (with the first arrest of Mustapha Ouchtoubane), working in tandem with the continuing peaceful protests of Imider’s inhabitants, now having achieved a total of 1,196 days, the longest sit-in in Morocco’s history. This period has seen several stages and events that have attracted public attention. Maybe the alleged agreement, as stated by the municipal council (not legal, by the way) in coordination with the managers of Managem (a holding company belonging to the King) and the blessing of local authorities, is one of the most significant events. This event, during which the aforementioned parties tried to circumvent the “Imider” documentation in order to induce public opinion to reach false conclusions and break the momentum of the militant movement.
Indeed, Managem campaigned in the media on behalf of this illegal agreement since late 2012 and has appropriated for itself a few small placebo-projects that had already been on the agenda as part of the National Initiative for Human Development 2010 -2015, and Managem continued to put pressure on the local council to take over controlling the water flow from the “Tidsa” valve system, because according to the latest article in ‘the Agreement’ it is considered a closed case if the mining company SMI does not include the commercialization of local water and sand …
Today, while over a year and a half have passed since this illusory “agreement” on which officials (from both government and the royal holding company Managem) base their case, saying that the Imider crisis is resolved, the population still persists in campaigning peacefully and pays heavily for their actions (recklessness, threats, repression, arbitrary detention of Imider’s young men who were sentenced with a cumulative imprisonment of 30 years, between 2011 and today) and this was happening always within the security framework determined by the authorities and with the complicity of the officials representing the King’s holding company.
The March 2014 arrests also coincided with the visit of the German Ambassador, Walter Mechel, to the commune of Imider in order to inaugurate an agricultural project which was finance in part by his Embassy for the Anounizm neighborhood. And since the secondary road that links this neighborhood to the three which are along National Highway No. 10, the locals often used it to join in with others at the sit-in on Mount Albban. Knowing that the authorities would be certain to prohibit the protests so that outside visitors, Moroccan or foreign, would not see them,the Toudgha Administrator ordered a violent intervention on that secondary road, which resulted in the arrest of two militants and the vandalism of their vehicle Tear gas was used during this attack. Then, the authorities placed an embargo on the three towns in order to remove all evidence of the violent intervention and protests before the ambassador came through.