The city of Bni Bouayach in the mountainous area of the Northern Rif in Morocco has been sealed off since Wednesday, March 8. All the repressive organs of the state, the army, the gendarmerie together with the secret and public police, have joined forces to blockade the small city. The inhabitants live in fear of police terror and the raiding of houses and arrests. Other repressive forces are hunting down activists who fled into the neighbouring mountains to escape arrest. The media black-out is total.
This violent intervention is the dictatorship’s response to peaceful demonstrations organised by the young unemployed and the activists of the 20F movement that have been ongoing for many months. The protest is against the generalised lack of jobs and bad social and economic conditions in this marginalised city of the Rif.
The regime has used a variety of tactics against the protest movement, from “containment” to targeted repression of the leaders of the action. One activist, Kamal al-Hassani, was killed on October 27th last year, another, Bachir ben Shu'ayb, was abducted and put on trial. His imprisonment and the accusations against him have provoked new protests in the city. National highway Number 2 was blocked and a sit-in was organised in front of the municipal buildings and the National Electricity Company. On March 5 the youth wanted to organise a march (25 km) to the city of Al Hoceima in support of the arrested comrade but the police stopped them.
Then on Thursday, March 8, the forces of repression attacked the demonstrators during a sit-in. The police used truncheons, teargas and water cannons to disperse the demonstrators. The masses of this city, known for their fighting traditions and activism, have defended themselves by throwing stones (see this report).
Demonstrations have been organised in the main streets leading to clashes in different neighbourhoods. Many people have been injured in those clashes. Fearing arrest, most of them have avoided being treated in the hospitals. Dozens of demonstrators have also been detained. The attack of the repressive forces was ferocious. No-one was spared, not even the women and the children. In seeking out demonstrators, the police entered people’s homes and destroyed the contents or plundered them. They are even hunting down the young activists in the mountains all around the area.
Friday the police arrested a group of activists, including Wael Faqih a leader of the unemployed youth association (Association Nationale des Diplômés Chômeurs au Maroc), and Mohammed Jalloul, a teacher in a primary school and also an activist of the 20F movement.
This attack against the city of Bni Bouayach is taking place against a background of growing revolt in some cities (such as Taza and Khénifra) that are completely marginalised by the state. These protests are organised by the 20F movement. They reflect the absolute bankruptcy of the system and the lack of alternative. It also shows the real nature of the dictatorship which is not ready to reform itself out of existence.
Therefore we declare:
-Our rejection of the violent and repressive intervention against the city of Bni Bouayach.
-Categorical rejection of the attacks against the population and the arbitrary arrests.
-We call for the immediate release of all prisoners detained during recent events
-The immediate lifting of the state of siege in the region around Bni Bouayach.
-All those responsible for the brutal repression against the youth, men and women of the city, should be put to trial.
-An immediate acceptance of all the demands of the population
-We appeal to the unions to take up their historic responsibility in reacting firmly and systematically against all forms of oppression and to call for a general strike!
(March 11, 2012)
[More photos and videos about the situation in Bni Bouayach here
Original Arabic article here]