Morocco , the Hirak Verdicts
The Moroccan Judicial system has finally issued its verdict, a little over a couple of hours ago, on the cases of all the Rif Hirak leaders it had been trying over the past few months, handing down unforgiving sentences ranging from 20 to 2 years in length, and totaling over 340 in all. A simple preliminary look at these cruelly punitive sentences quickly sends all hopes anyone watching the situation unfold, ever had for a Democracy, Justice or the illusion of the Reconciliation with Rif, down the gallows to die. Nacer Zefzafi, the charismatic Hirak leader along with Nabil Ahamjik, Waseem El Boustati and Samir Aghith, were on the receiving end of the sternest the Moroccan courts have to offer on, racking in 20 years each for their role in the movement. The next batch down is a deck of 15 years handed down to Mohamed El Haki, Zakaria Adahshour and Mohamed Bouhanouch, followed by a cluster of 10 years, another of 5, then 3 and 2 respectively.
Ever since their collective and Hollywood style arrest a year ago, all the Hirak leaders have been consistently reporting acts of cruelty and inhumane treatment for the duration of their incarceration at the hands of the world renown sadistic and sociopathic Moroccan henchmen, with their infamously disgraceful track record of torture and abuse. For instance, Mohamed Jelloul, the undisputed godfather and spiritual leader of the movement, though he was incarcerated for most of it, also wasn’t spared. He had just left prison after a 5 year long stretch for his involvement with the organization of the February 20th movement in 2012, and was plucked right back up with the rest a mere 40 days after his release, only to be sentenced to 10 years, this time around. Nacer Zefzafi, spoke in open court about his torture and rape with a wooden bat, prior to being brought to a solitary cell, away from the rest of the prison population for the entire duration of his incarceration. Equally, Rabii Al Ablak also complained of torture and beatings and having had a loaded gun pointed at him at one point and his clothes striped from him while being threatened with rape. When his requests to open an investigation in his torture allegations went unanswered, he entered a series of hunger strikes, the longest of which lasted 48 days and nearly killed him. Not to be outdone, nearly all the political prisoners have entered a hunger strike at one point or another, during their yearlong incarceration, in an effort to get some of their very basic rights restored. As far as everybody knows, Rabii is, until the writing of this article, still on his 30th day of another hunger strike and his life is in real danger, which still did not spare him a harsh sentence of 5 years. Journalism and the press also got its share of repression when Mohamed Al Asrihi and Abdelali Houd were penalized with a 5 year long sentence each for running the online news sites of Rif24 and AraghiTV correspondingly and Jawad Essabiri got 2 years for being on the staff of Rif24 as well.
Early in the evening last night on June 25th, and in a surprising twist of events, Investigative Journalist and Reporter Hamid Mahdaouy, who was also detained at the same facility, facing an equally inhumane treatment and heavy charges for his role during the Hirak, got a sudden and unecpected court decision to try him separately. A decision that stunned the public attending the trials and his defense team alike, most likely in an attempt to eliminate all possible complications the Moroccan courts might face at sentencing, as it knew all along that all of the Hirak leaders were going to be massacred, legally speaking. Having that one reporter in their midst who was arrested many months after they were, with a different set of charges against him was only going to further obfuscate the sentencing process.
During their trials, the Hirak leaders were not afforded the opportunity to present evidence or witnesses in their own defense. They stood in open court, many times, and accused it of losing its impartiality and commitment to justice, therefore infringing on their universal rights to a Fair Trial, otherwise guaranteed to them not only constitutionally, but also internationally through every convention and treaty that Morocco prides itself on being a part of. When all their attempts and those of their attorneys went in vain, the group decided, in unison, to boycott the trial proceedings and instructed their respective defense teams to act in a similar fashion. As such, there was no closing statement from the defense team, nor did they get to cross-examine the prosecution witnesses.
These young men who, by all accounts, have done nothing but organize amongst themselves and took the streets at the wake of the state-sanctioned murder of fishmonger Mohcin Fikri in October 2016, which had brought the entire city of El Hoceima and its surrounding suburbs together to demand justice for him as well as shed the light on the marginalization of the region, due to the royal decree, deeming it a military territory. These educated, polite, ethical and soft spoken young men and women got their heads together and took to the streets to demand a cancer center, a university and to lift the militarization on their city, only to be accused of some of the worst crimes out there including separatism, and treason.
Merely a few days after the holiday celebrating the end of Ramadhan, Riffians and the rest of Morocco and the world is stunned at the callousness of the Moroccan regime, and directly points the finger not just at the judicial system and its lack of impartiality, or the government itself, but at the royal institution no less, for, all the judgments rendered in courts today, were so on the name of “his majesty” the king, leaving all those who heard in shock and disbelief, having no choice but to blame the institution for having influenced and directly inspired these trials, considered by most Moroccans as well rehearsed scenes, and nothing but smoke in mirrors to cover up the entire regime’s conspiracy against all those who dare challenge it.
Today will forever remain deeply etched in the memories of those who care enough to remember, how justice was gruesomely beheaded at the guillotine and innocence massacred at the altar of tyranny. Today, marks an important milestone in the lives of all these women, wives, mothers and sisters, left to raise little children without the men in their lives, their chants of freedom and (Youyous/Zghreedas) filling the stale, depressed air suspended above the skies of the bleeding Rif. Today is the day nobody has any more delusions about the extent to which the Moroccan regime is willing to go to protect its throne exactly the way it is. Today is the day hopes for a better Morocco simply committed suicide, rather than crash at the shores of despotism and tyranny. Today is the day dictatorship declared a bloody victory over all. A sad day, indeed, for justice seekers everywhere in Morocco.