Moroccan Activists Accuse Security Forces of Brutality

Article Summary
Morocco's February 20 Movement has resumed its campaign for greater freedom and democracy with a series of Ramadan street protests. Abd-al-Haq Bin Rahmoun reports that protestors have returned to the streets amid a public-sector pay dispute and rising costs of living to face violent repression by security forces.

Morocco’s February 20 Movement has resumed its protests, denouncing the high cost of living and demanding further political, social and economic reforms. The movement had been inactive for several months following the formation of the government of Justice and Development Party head Abdulilah Benkirane.

The youth of the February 20 Movement demonstrated after the Ramadan iftar (meal after sundown) in several lower-class neighborhoods of Moroccan cities, including Rabat, Casablanca and El-Jadida. Sources present at the demonstrations said that security forces used violence and force to disperse the demonstrators, who had called for a peaceful march. In El-Jadida, a number of activists affiliated with the movement were  assaulted by security forces and rushed to the provincial hospital, where they remained in serious condition.

Security forces also used violence in Casablanca, injuring and arresting several demonstrators following a march in the Sidi Bernoussi neighborhood on Sunday [July 22]. Moreover, local media sources have confirmed that six activists from the February 20 Movement were arrested in Casablanca and will likely appear before the crown prosecutor at the Ayn al-Sabi court. Sources from the movement said that some of those who were released have testified that activists held at the police station in Sidi Bernoussi have been seriously assaulted by security forces.

In other news, Muhammad Nagib Boliv, minister delegate in charge of Economic and Public Affairs, said that the government of Benkirane plans to adopt a new procedure regarding granting compensation to employees.

The minister's statement came amid controversy regarding important compensation that was received by some public-sector employees. According to Boliv, the procedure the government intends to adopt does not aim to cancel the money, but rather seeks to link incentives provided independently from monthly wages in a cost-effective and efficient manner. Some trade unions argue that the government prefers to resolve its financial problems at the expense of the poor working class. They noted that the measure the government intends to endorse could have negative effects on junior employees were it to be implemented in a non-selective way to include all public-sector staff.

The Moroccan parliament is expected to conclude the spring session of its ninth legislative term. Only 13 legal texts have been approved during the October 2011 and April 2012 sessions since the election of the new parliamentarians in the primary chamber. This begs the question: Is the parliament achieving positive results? Regardless of the answer, it seem to be of little concern to deputies from both the majority and the opposition. House Speaker Karim Gallab said that he will fully apply all requirements of the internal law.

Found in: reforms, protests, morocco, arab spring, arab, abdulilah bin kirane

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