Morocco king pardons 188 people linked to Hirak protests

Morocco's King Mohammed VI. (REUTERS)
Updated 23 August 2018
0

Morocco king pardons 188 people linked to Hirak protests

  • The social unrest linked to Hirak began in October 2016 after the death of a fisherman and spiralled into a wave of protests demanding more development in the neglected Rif region and railing against corruption and unemployment

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has pardoned a total of 188 people linked to the “Hirak” protest movement on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha, the National Council on Human Rights said on Tuesday.
The council initially reported that royal pardons had been granted to 11 activists serving sentences of two to three years in prison for their part in the Al-Hirak Al-Shaabi, or “Popular Movement” whose protests rocked the northern Rif region in 2016-2017.
The other pardons concern people sentenced in connection with the demonstrations in the region, according to the Moroccan press.
It was not immediately possible to get confirmation from the Justice Ministry, which published the list of people granted royal pardons.
The social unrest linked to Hirak began in October 2016 after the death of a fisherman and spiralled into a wave of protests demanding more development in the neglected Rif region and railing against corruption and unemployment.
The pardoned Hirak detainees were immediately released and the rights council has begun coordinating with local authorities in various cities to prepare for their return home, according to a council official.
A Casablanca court on June 26 sentenced 53 Hirak members to prison terms ranging from one year to 20 years. The movement’s leader Nasser Zafzafi, sentenced with three companions to 20 years in prison for threatening the security of the state, was not among those on the pardon list.
Nor was journalist Hamid el Mahdaoui, sentenced to three years for covering the events.
The defendants in the Casablanca trial have appealed and the hearing is scheduled for October.
The 2016 protests began when fisherman Mouhcine Fikri was crushed to death in a rubbish truck, while he was apparently trying to retrieve swordfish seized by authorities as it was caught out of season.
Subsequent unrest in the Rif region focused on social issues as demonstrators demanded jobs and development.
The king also pardoned 522 people for Youth Day on Tuesday which is also the birthday of the monarch, who turned 55.
On Monday, the anniversary of “the revolution of the king and the people,” he had also granted 428 pardons.


End Syria hospital attacks, Russia told at UN

Updated 37 min 4 sec ago
0

End Syria hospital attacks, Russia told at UN

  • Kuwait, Germany and Belgium asked for the hastily called closed-door session
  • Russian and Assad egime aircraft have since late April ramped up deadly bombardment of the Idlib region

UNITED NATIONS: Russia on Thursday opposed a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an end to attacks on health facilities in Syria’s Idlib region, diplomats said after the latest meeting over violence in the country’s last major opposition bastion.
The outcome led to a rare statement following the meeting by the UN’s humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock.
“The carnage must stop,” he said.
Russian and Assad egime aircraft have since late April ramped up deadly bombardment of the Idlib region of about three million people in northwest Syria, despite a deal to avert a massive government assault.
Kuwait, Germany and Belgium asked for the hastily called closed-door session, the latest of many they have sought since May in response to worsening fighting in Syria’s northwest.
The draft text, given to journalists, expressed “grave concern regarding the recent attacks on hospitals and other health facilities,” including a July 10 attack on Maarat National Hospital, one of the largest in the area and whose coordinates had been shared through the UN “deconfliction mechanism” that aims to spare civilian targets.
Russia again denied bombing such facilities.
“I provided information from my ministry of defense” and investigation demonstrated that there were “no attacks at nine out of eleven facilities” allegedly attacked, Moscow’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters.
“The two others were partially damaged but not by Russian” forces, he said.
His British counterpart, Karen Pierce, seemed skeptical.
“There’s some interest in an investigation into the Maarat Hospital hit. So I think that’s the thing to focus on,” she said at the end of the meeting.
“We’ve got our suspicions. But let’s get a proper look into that and get a proper answer.”
Lowcock said after the meeting that since July 1, “at least six health facilities, five schools, three water stations, two bakeries and one ambulance have been damaged or destroyed.
“Entire villages have been destroyed and emptied” because of air strikes, he said.
Regime air strikes on Tuesday killed 11 civilians in Idlib’s south, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The region on Turkey’s doorstep is administered by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, but other jihadist and rebel groups are also present.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres last week strongly condemned air strikes in the region following reports from a Syrian doctors’ group that four health facilities including the Maarat Al-Numan facility were hit during a single day of bombing.
Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.