Western Sahara: Peaceful demonstrations marred by violent police intervention

image2The Moroccan authorities violently intervened in peaceful demonstrations, organised by young unemployed Saharawis on 11th and 16th June 2016 in El Aaiun and Smara. The demonstrators demanded access to their right to work and to freedom of expression.
According to witnesses, the Moroccan police threw stones at demonstrators as well as using sticks and truncheons to attack demonstrators in both cities, resulting in dozens of demonstrators as well as some bystanders being injured, some of them seriously. One of them was a correspondent for the local TV channel RASD-TV.  

Sokaina, who participated in the demonstrations, told Adala UK ‘Suddenly the Moroccan forces started attacking us. Four police officers started beating me, now I have wounds all over my body. This is what human rights mean to Morocco.’
In Smara, an eye witness told Adala UK: ‘When we arrived at the hospital, we saw that it was surrounded by uniformed and plain clothes police officers. Police officers were also present inside the hospital with the patients – it seemed more like a police station than a hospital.’
Moreover, the local Moroccan government tarnish the actions and demonstrations which highlight the Saharawis’ dire social and economic situation, by representing them as a ‘betrayal of the throne of the kingdom of Morocco.’
Adala UK has systematically documented human rights abuses at the hands of the Moroccan security forces. We urge the Moroccan authorities to carry out an investigation into the excessive use of violence during these most recent events and to hold those responsible to account.

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