“Million-Man March” begins in Al Hoceima

Protesters in the city of Al Hoceima are taking part in an “million-man march” this evening, the latest in a series of demonstrations associated with the Hirak movement.

The march, originally planned for 3 p.m. GMT,  instead began at 5 p.m. after demonstrators from outside the city were delayed at checkpoints.

Demonstrators marched from their own neighborhoods towards Sidi Abid, a neighborhood in the northwestern part of the city which has seen more marches than any other place in the city apart from the park at Sahat A’chouhadae. The march had initially been planned to take place at A’chouhadae, but police began assembling at the park at noon, leading Hirak leaders to relocate the march. Members of the international press have also been spotted at the park.

The march is the latest in a series of demonstrations in Al Hoceima which began eight months ago after a fish-seller was crushed to death by a refuse lorry.

Many days ago, Riffi people in European countries have been invited by the people of the region of Al Hoceima to go back home and stand tall with their people to fight for their rights. There has also been an open invitation to every Moroccan person concerned by the matter of human rights.

The screams and slogans of the people could be heard from all over the city, demanding the release of prisoners arrested during these past months. Many of those prisoners have been on hunger strikes, alleging that they were arrested on false pretenses or claiming cruel treatment by Moroccan authorities. Some, including prominent Hirak leader Nasser Zafzafi, were taken to the Ain Sbaa’s prison in Casablanca. Several are still awaiting trial after months of detention. 

March 2
Marchers aid a man badly beaten by police. Picture used with permission on condition of anonymity.

As of writing, police are attempting to break up the march with little success, despite the use of tear gas and beatings. Demonstrators meet up in various places around the city, then break up the march when police arrive and gather elsewhere to confuse the police and avoid arrest.

Internet access has been limited in Al Hoceima throughout the day, drawing speculation that the government is intentionally curtailing internet use to prevent marchers from filming and broadcasting police actions. The Moroccan government has a history of restricting access to telecommunications for this purpose.

Despite police’s use of violence to stop the peaceful march, Riffian people are standing proud and tall to fight for what they have always believed in and what they want for the region: respect for human rights.

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