Police Respond to “Million-Man March” With More Tear Gas and Beatings

At least one protester is dead and several injured in the aftermath of a “Million Man March” in Al-Hoceima on July 20, during which protesters say police used brutal and deceptive tactics to attack marchers.

The march brought protesters against government repression from all over the city to A’chouhadae Park. When police attempted to break up the march with tear gas and beatings, however, gatherings emerged all over the city.

At one point, Imad El Attabi, a young man in his 20’s, was hit in the head with a tear gas bomb by police from a distance of 2 meters.  The man was knocked unconscious, and was later taken to the urgent wing of the local hospital.

Other protesters seeking medical attention were also rudely surprised. A group of people who were using barriers to stop police from getting to them opened the gates to make way for an ambulance hurtling in their direction, only to be attacked by policemen who emerged from the ambulance.

Many other marchers who called ambulances to tend to the injured were instead arrested.

7.22 pic2
Marchers protesting government mistreatment in Al Hoceima walked in a “Million-Man March on Thursday. All photos used with permission from Achraf Bellaali. 

The tear gas created a cloud that floated through the streets of the city for hours, causing many people to faint and feel ill. Neighbors, especially women who stayed at home during the march, opened their doors to let some of the marchers in and used onions and Coca-Cola  to help them breathe and wash their faces. They also gave the hurt marchers water and food.

The clouds of tear gas only grew bigger with each passing hour as the march continued through the night, eventually coming to a close around midnight. For a moment, people were scattered on the ground from suffocation and beating.

There was no respect for human rights, or any kind of possible logic to the way the people of Al Hoceima and their supporters have been treated.

Protesters saw the cherry on the top when Moroccan state television reported that the police only hit twice with the tear gas bombs and that only about 300 hundred people marched, contradicting video and photographic evidence showing that at least 4000 people took part, all standing up for their right and all wanting freedom for Riffi activists, some of whom have been detained now for 2 months.

The events of the 20th of July are reminding everyone is the region of Al Hoceima that the Years of Lead, when hundreds of people were killed and imprisoned in the Rif, are far from over.

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