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Morocco: the struggle for change

Hanan Jibril

March 1, 2013

Since February 20, 2011, people across Morocco have participated in protests demanding social, economic, and political reforms and an end to the high illiteracy, the growing unemployment rate and corruption. On February 20 of this year a group of activists held a series of rallies against the lack of reforms.
Attacks on activists
The Western-backed regime has arrested and even tortured activists and journalists affiliated with the protests--including the longstanding harrassment and then ten month jail sentence given to journalist Mohamed Attaoui for “working as a local official despite being suspended”. He was not only placed in solitary confinement untill his jail sentence but also was not allowed to see his wife untill after his sentencing.
In March 2012 the regime arrested rap singer Mouad Belghouat, a member of the 20 February movement, and sentenced him to a year in jail for offending the police in one of his songs  denouncing police corruption. He went on hunger strike twice and is still held in prison. The police arrested Youssef Orbella and five others at a protest in Casablanca in July 2012, and subjected them to violence, beatings, insults and torture--finally releasing them in January 2013 after forcing Youssef to sign a letter claiming he had hit a police officer.  
Western Sahara
The situation in Western Sahara in Morocco has worsened. The government has abused the rights of the Sahrawi people. The Western Sahara used to be a colony of Spain, when the dictator Franco died; Morocco invaded the Sahara occupying two thirds of the land, rich with minerals and phosphates. A number of Sahwaris left their land to go to Algeria, and are presently residing in refugee camps, while others remain in Western Sahara facing descrimination. The demands of Sahrawi people include self-determination and an end to discrimination.
The struggle against imperialism
On the other hand, 1400 US Marines and Moroccan soldiers are to land in April 2013 in Port Alagdir to conduct a live-fire rehearsal to prepare for African Lion 2013, an exercise conducted annually in April by the US and Morocco to share tactics and procedures.  Being a Western ally, the monarchy in Morocco has the privilege to escape mainstream media attention when demonstrators demand reforms and when the government cracks down on pro-democracy activists. Showing solidarity with people in Morocco means supporting them in their struggle against Western imperialism and the oppressive and corrupt regimes it supports. 


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