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When the forgotten of Morocco say enough

After more than a year of demonstrations in the Rif other municipalities rebel against abandonment and lack of employment

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When the forgotten of Morocco say enough

First it was Hoceima. The death of a crushed fish vendor in a garbage truck brought to light in Rif a magma of enormous discontent. It was born thus in November of 2016 so-called Hirak Chaabi (Popular movement, in Arabic), an association which did not respond to any party. Today, according to Amnesty International, re are 400 Rifian imprisoned or prosecuted because of those demonstrations. The Rif protests seem to be controlled, though not extinguished. However, or Hirak, with ensuing arrests, have ignited in some of most neglected areas of country.

In November, 15 crushed women were killed in a stampede when y waited for a charitable distribution of food in sourn village of Sidi Bulaalam. That tragedy did not trigger social protests. However, on 22 December, two mining brors, aged 22 and 30, died in northwest of country when abandoned coal site was flooded where y worked. And that has awakened yearning for social justice in area. It happened in municipality of Jerada (40,000 inhabitants), about 60 kilometers south of Uchda, near border with Algeria. The country became aware of illicit traffic in coal that is registered in that region. The press reported on poor living conditions of population, on caciques who benefit from illicit trafficking. Neighbors demand a reduction in electricity and water bills, creation of economic alternatives and justice against local politicians.

The government has promised an emergency plan in area, but mobilizations continue. Several unions have convened a general strike this Friday in area, and it is already third in less than a month. "So far we have made promises," says Mohamed Gloria, a member of Jerada of Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH). "And only Minister of Mines and Energy has come here. There are no concrete measures on table. "

The tensions didn't stop re. On 11 January, in village of Will, about 30 kilometres from Algeria and 140 kilometres south of Jerada, an 11-year-old boy was hit by a truck. The ambulance took more than an hour to arrive, according to neighbors, and that again resulted in protests against abandonment of area. Already in 2005 this newspaper published a report which described how emigration was only hope for many minors. There was not a single house where someone had not left for Europe. Many of m came to Valencian Community. There are now seven protesters sentenced to six months ' imprisonment.

Khadija Ryadi, former president of AMDH and member of Consultative Committee of this Organization, believes that Hirak of Rif has encouraged people in or parts of country to protest. "But even if no one had left Rif, alarming situation in se areas would also have brought people out into streets. And that despite all violent repression re has been. "

Development programmes have been implemented in last two decades that have managed to reduce poverty. But y have also raised hope of citizens

David Goeury, French political associated with Moroccan Analysis Centre Tafra

When protests in Rif had not yet been suffocated, between August and September, in town of Zagora (of 30,000 inhabitants, in east of country, at gates of Sahara), what was known as Hirak of water, or manifestations of thirst. Hundreds of residents complained about scarcity of drinking water and were protesting against poor management of hydric resources. There were 23 detainees, of whom still eight remain in prison.

Khadija Ryadi stresses that re have always been discriminatory policies in Morocco. "Only a few families in ruling class monopolize country's wealth, an income economy and almost total opacity. The palace budget is enormous in relation to even certain monarchies of rich countries. Besides, it's a taboo. No one, not even members who approve that budget, dare to discuss it. The spring of 2011 managed to overcome fear of protesting. But result of revolutions that fell in chaos has returned fear in Moroccans. People react only when misery and injustice reach too high a level. That is when people feel in ir flesh and in ir next violence of se policies of privatization and looting. "

David Goeury, a French political associated with Moroccan analysis Centre Tafra believes that latest protests come from very different local contexts and it is very difficult to match m. He believes that some people are trying to highlight certain common elements in order to take a political advantage. It also thinks that phenomenon of demonstrations in small, isolated and poor municipalities is old in Morocco.

Neverless, political assumes that re are common elements in se protests: "In all of m word Hirak is used, because it has succeeded among young protesters of or cities and also in press. That word translates a strong rupture between young people and ir representatives. Young people reject any link with traditional political organizations and local politicians. And, in addition, protests usually happen in places that suffer from a cruel shortage of private employment. "

Goeury states that in last two decades, development programmes have been implemented that have managed to reduce poverty. "But y have also raised hope of citizens." He adds that authorities have learned lessons of Hoceima and react more and more quickly. "But it is unlikely," he warns, "that government or territorial councils will be in a short-term position to respond to question of substance: lack of private employment in medium-sized cities on periphery."

"Hoceima is an example for rest of country"

FRANCISCO PEREGIL

Reda Benzaza, former spokesman in Hoceima of Hirak and now in exile, believes that influence of Rif protests in last protests registered in Morocco is undeniable. "The events of Jerada and will indicate a tendency and a line, a generalized fatigue. Of course, Hirak and its peaceful values are an example for rest of country. What never changes is state's response: repression and imprisonment to delay end of a model based on inequality, human rights violations, and systematized corruption at all scales.

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