To inform people about the reality of repression and structural human rights violations by the Moroccan State.
At a time when Morocco is preparing for the 2nd World Forum on Human Rights, we believe it is important to alert the public about the true activity of the Moroccan state. Since the 90s, Morocco sought to build an image of “good governance” inserted into a process of democratization by formally referencing numerous international conventions. It was a matter of wiping out, on the part of the Moroccan government, the memory of the “years of lead” and having the support of the “international community” in a historical sequence marked by the crisis, or weakening of authoritarian regimes. The Moroccan government has had to make concessions when confronted by the democratic struggles carried on over decades, at a crossroads where it saw itself isolated internationally, weakened internally, and faced with the preparation for a transition (that of the monarchy passing from Hassan II to Mohammed VI).
Today, it seems clear that these concessions have not changed anything in the despotic practices of the Moroccan State: the repressive apparatus have remained intact and moreover, been strengthened, justice is still not independent, impunity is the rule, and red lines red regarding freedoms of all kinds can still not be transgressed. The few areas of democratic freedoms have been trampled, one after the other. The record contains many examples of systematic violations. Let us merely remark that there is an overall tightening of increased repression and a pervasive will to silence all dissidence. Without going through an exhaustive run-down, let us not forget that many movements and associations still have no legal existence despite the steps taken in accordance with the law. This is the case of Attac-Morocco Association, National Association of Unemployed Graduates in Morocco (ANDCM), independent trade unions and the association “Freedom Now” which campaigns for press freedom, to cite a few examples. As for the associations working on behalf of public interest, in particular in the field of human rights, like the AMDH (Moroccan Association for Human Rights) organization, there is an attempt to control them and force their compliance by interfering with and prohibiting their activities.
A significant fact to note: the Moroccan State imprisons those who defend their fundamental rights and file complaints against brutal treatment and torture. The victim is transformed into the guilty party, while torturers go unpunished. Our comrade Wafaâ Charaf found herself charged and sentenced to jail time for “slanderous denunciation” of authorities. In this same way, activists may be “punished” sometimes until they succumb to their torture and die “under medical supervision,” evidenced by the case of Mustapha Mezziani. Other students from the UNEM are on a hunger strike, have been arbitrarily imprisoned and are fighting for their right to continue their education, improve the conditions of their detention and be recognized as prisoners of conscience.
Today, prisons are overflowing with hundreds of activists: human rights activists, trade unionists, youth from the Feb. 20th Moverment, UNEM students, association members and the unemployed, Sahrawi organizations and citizens who have, at one time or another, protested. Most of the time, convictions are based on confessions extracted under torture and spurious grounds so as to present those in prison as offenders. Similarly, many demonstrations or peaceful actions, even when they conform to the canons of law, are subject to brutal police intervention.
Critical creative artists and independent journalists are no exception. Freedom of expression is tolerated only if it is consistent with the image the kingdom wants to give to the public or when it relies on self-censorship and/or unbridled praise. The minute an element of criticism or a work is produced which provides serious information, State pressure on the citizenry becomes a daily event, and those who were involved in the dissemination of such, find themselves on a court bench awaiting judgement. A number of independent newspapers had to cease publication under strict censorship and prohibitions, or submit to the State’s carefully orchestrated financial devastation that threatened bankruptcy.
It seems necessary to remind people that one of the tasks of the government, specifically the central government, is “the restitution of the authority of the State” as a sequel to the winds of protest ignited by the Feb 20th Movement in the context of democratic uprisings in the region.
This “restitution of authority” has sought its justifications in the fight against those who want to take advantage of “democracy” to undermine the authority of the State and its “fundamental underpinnings.” We have also recently witnessed the Minister of the Interior accuse a number of associations, without mentioning them specifically, of “tarnishing the country’s reputation, hindering the action of the security forces in their fight against terrorism, and working in accordance to external agendas.” In the same spirit, the statement by Justice Minister Mustapha Ramid on June 11, 2014, announcing prosecution “in the event of accusations for non-existant infractions” termination of offenses not” could open the door to lawsuits against the very victims of torture.
For all these reasons, it is necessary to enlighten the public as to the reality of a State which remains a police State, still using a democratic language but only as the means of communication for the outside world. While inside Morocco, it is the daily reality of repression in all its forms that is growing stinger. When the Moroccan powers that be are getting ready to host the global forum of human rights, we have every justification to be concerned that they are using this event to legitimize continuing impunity for torturers, for their prime contractors, and the flagrant decline of those fragile areas of freedom that still exist. We must therefore develop a movement of public solidarity with the democratic forces and human rights organizations who are fighting for genuine rule of law based on social justice, freedom and dignity. Let us put an Immediate halt to this repressive escalation that has no limits.