Morocco: freedom for political prisoners!

Submitted by AWL on 14 May, 2013 - 2:52

Ziyad M is a supporter of the Revolutionary Marxist Current of Morocco

Freedom for all political prisoners in Morocco!

In the jails of Morocco, political prisoners have been on hunger strike for more than sixty days.

More than twenty political prisoners have undertaken a hunger strike, in spite of the media blackout levelled against them. Tarek Hammammi and Abdes-semad Haïdour, imprisoned in Taza, have been refusing food for more than sixty days. Hassan Koukou, Soufiane Sghéri, Mounir Aït Khafou and Hassan Ahmouch, who are being held in the Toulal 2 prison in Meknès are entering the fiftieth day of their hunger strike.

All are protesting against the conditions they must endure and the violations of their rights (torture, rape of certain prisoners) which they face from their jailers.

Moreover, the health of these prisoners, whose number includes activists of the 20 February Movement, the main initiator of the "Moroccan Spring", is deteriorating by the day. Moroccan human rights associations, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have repeatedly raised the alarm over the situation for the 172 political prisoners, some of whom (Sarahawi activists) are condemned to life imprisonment.

A campaign of support for the prisoners, involving the writer Gilles Perrault, has been launched to raise public awareness of the prisoners' plight.

Driss El Yazami, former president of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), now president of the National Council of Human Rights (CNDH), appointed by King Mohamed VI and recipient of an award from Asdhom (Moroccan Association for the Defence of Human Rights) is observing a royally-mandated vow of silence on the issue. Hardly a line about the case has been written in the media of Metropolitan France; not a single word or image in the TV and radio.

It is as if it were forbidden to say anything which might contradict Morocco's image as a place which welcomes political and cultural figures (like Strauss-Kahn or Jack Lang), or philosophers like Bernard Henri-Levy, who take beautiful "riads" in Marrakech, or who are hosted by the Palace itself, as was the case with the Sarkozy family!

There are no surprises here: 150 French capitalists accompanied the French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault during his December 2012 visit to Morocco. No fewer than 36 businesses listed with the CAC 40 group of top French firms have a presence in Morocco. The leader of Moroccan captains of industry herself describes Morocco as "France's surest partner in a politically and socially troubled region". And in return French imperialism supports the Moroccan monarchy with all its might.

When asked, during an official visit to Rabat, to intervene with Moroccan authorities in connection with the condition of Moroccan prisoners and human rights violations in Moroccan jails, French President François Hollande answered (cf. Humanité 23, 28 and 29 April 2013): "Every day Morocco is taking decisive steps towards democracy". Such was his support for the King that the Moroccan Higher Education Minister, a leader of the Islamist party which took power in the November 2011 elections, was able to exclaim approvingly, "One can't tell whether it is the King or the President who is speaking, such is the agreement between them".

And the complicity between the Moroccan monarchy and French imperialism goes further than that: Morocco supported the French action in Mali, in particular authorising access to Moroccan airspace for French forces - while Hollande, continuing Sarkozy's policy exactly, supports the Moroccan state's repression of the Sarahawi people.

Even the press briefing organised by Asdhom on 17 April at the European Parliament, with the assistance of MEPs Marie-Christine Vergiat and Willy Meyer (GUE-GVN), Ana Miranda (Greens-ALE) and Ana Gomes (PS), went unnoticed. One could be forgiven for thinking that Morocco is a state which not only enjoys the protection of France, the USA and her allies - but also of almost all French media, newspapers, televisions and radio.
So there is nothing surprising about the fact that the monarchy can pursue its repressive agenda without fear of repercussions.

Only mobilisations by workers and youth, through their organisations, in Morocco as well as in France and elsewhere, can force the Moroccan monarchy to grant the unconditional release of its political prisoners.