On 6th June 2014, Moroccan police brutally suppressed a demonstration in the Hay Sakna district in the Western Saharan city of Smara. A group of Saharawi citizens had taken to the streets to demand the Saharawi people’s right to self-determination.
Adala UK members in Smara informed us that ten minutes after the start of the demonstration, uniformed and plain clothes Moroccan police officers and auxiliary forces intervened, beating demonstrators and anyone else who was in the area at the time, and then blocking all roads in the area.
As protests continue to take place across Western Sahara, Moroccan security forces frequently use violence to disperse these. They recently started mass detentions of protesters, including minors, such as in the case of Ayub Garmat and others. Many detainees have been tortured in prison and they are judged in unfair trials.
In recent months, the Moroccan government has increased the presence of uniformed and plain clothes police officers and auxiliary forces in the cities of Western Sahara, as well as reinforcing the military which is based in the areas surrounding these cities. The aim is to reinforce the blockade on Western Sahara.
In an attempt to silence criticism, international journalists have been expelled from the occupied territories or denied access. Most recently the Italian journalists Jeni Bachini and Strvano Squirato were detained by police and forced to enter a car which took them to the Moroccan city of Agadir.
Adala UK considers these new measures shameful. “National security should not be used as an excuse to sanction peaceful protest”