Morocco pardons hundreds of convicts, including Rif activists

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King Mohammed VI of Morocco has pardoned 1,446 convicts. That reports news agency MAP Wednesday. It concerns more than 1,200 people who were detained and whose prison sentences have been shortened or suspended. For 179 convicts who were already at large, the sentence (such as a fine) has been reduced or suspended.

Among the released prisoners, at least 15 activists were arrested during the Rif protests in 2017, according to news website Arif News. Elyass Iamrachen, brother of activist Elmortada Iamrachen, who was arrested in June 2017, confirms to NRC that Elmortada has been released. Elyass Iamrachen speaks of the “end of a nightmare”. “Elmortada heard that he was free, was allowed to pack his things and was suddenly on the street.” He was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.

Also read: “There are secret police everywhere. Isn’t that barbaric? “

Oppression and abuse of power

In 2016 and 2017, massive protests took place in the Rif Mountains of northern Morocco. The cause was the death of a fishmonger who died demonstrating against the municipality that confiscated his merchandise. Ultimately, the protests culminated in a broader movement against the abuse of power and the repression of the Berber people in Morocco.

Dozens of activists have been arrested on charges of “terrorism” and sentenced to years of punishment. Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International have been talking about a political process for years and have repeatedly called on the Moroccan government to release the activists. It is not clear how many and who are still detained.

The reason for releasing the activists after three years is not entirely clear. Formally is the petition for pardon in honor of the Throne, which takes place in Morocco on Thursday. Every year Mohammed VI celebrates the anniversary of his accession to the throne, 21 years ago this year.

Also read: Wait months in The Hague to be allowed to return to Morocco

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