Daily Archives: November 2, 2018

Political Unrest Drives Moroccans to Join Africa Exodus

Moroccans are increasingly joining other Africans in the dangerous sea crossing to Spain, driven by what they see as deteriorating social conditions and a crackdown on political dissent.
Morocco’s government has recently accepted $160 million from the EU to act as its regional “gendarme,” curbing a growing flow of Europe-bound migrants from sub-Saharan Africa. But its own citizens now are piling onto boats pulling up at its windswept beaches for the illegal journey across the Mediterranean.

The government does not provide figures on the number of Moroccans leaving illegally. But navy patrols intercepting migrant-laden boats plying the narrow Strait of Gibraltar between Morocco and Spain report they are finding them filled with Moroccans at a growing rate.
According to the Madrid government, 13,000 Moroccan migrants reached Spain in August, an “unprecedented” number, according to Mohammed Ali, a human rights activist and consultant to the regional council of Tetouan from where most migrant boats set sail.
“People are being forced to migrate for the same social and economic reasons they are revolting inside Morocco,” said Ahmed El Goatib, a Socialist Party militant who served jail time for offending King Mohammed VI. “The government might even be encouraging migration as a social escape valve and as a way to pressure Europe for money,” Ali said.
Moroccan navy sailors killed a 19-year-old Moroccan law student, Hayat Bellcacem, and seriously wounded a teenage boy when they fired machine guns to halt migrant boats in separate incidents last month, touching off large protests in the victims’ home towns of Tetouan and Agadir.
Supporters of Tetouan’s Moghreb Athletic soccer team marched to the city stadium chanting, “With our soul and with our heart we will avenge Hayat.”
A similar stadium protest in Agadir centered on demands for freedom to emigrate. The crowd hissed when the national anthem was played and shouts were heard rejecting Moroccan nationality. Someone in the crowd unfurled a Spanish flag.
Tetouan and Agadir were part of a Spanish protectorate in Morocco until they were ceded back to Morocco in 1958.
Popular revolts in Morocco tend to be short-lived. The soccer protesters and Hayat’s mother — who vociferously denounced the government following her daughter’s death — had stopped talking to the press by last week.
Local journalists say the family had been visited by the all-pervasive royal secret police, or DGST, and that some protest leaders in Tetouan had been jailed.
The EU may be relying on Morocco’s extensive police powers to control waves of migrants moving toward the Mediterranean from neighboring Algeria and Mauritania.
When hundreds of sub-Saharan Africans broke through border fences surrounding the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in July, Moroccan police rounded up hundreds more migrants gathering in the hills and forests around Ceuta and deported them back to the border with Algeria.
But political unrest within Morocco may in some cases feed the migration. Hundreds of people fled to the beaches of Tetouan from the Riff mountain region of Alucemas following a government crackdown on a local rebellion last year, according to activists. The protests were sparked by delays in the construction of a hospital.
“At the fourth day of the declaration of martial law, 150 people from the Riff were gathering at beaches in Tetouan to board boats to Spain,” said a Socialist militant in the coastal region.
He said it is in the EU’s interest to pressure the Moroccan government to respect human rights and social needs to avoid a social explosion that would drive even more people to attempt the crossing to Spain.

Source: Voice of America

Political Unrest Drives Moroccans to Join Africa Exodus

Moroccans are increasingly joining other Africans in the dangerous sea crossing to Spain, driven by what they see as deteriorating social conditions and a crackdown on political dissent.
Morocco’s government has recently accepted $160 million from the EU to act as its regional “gendarme,” curbing a growing flow of Europe-bound migrants from sub-Saharan Africa. But its own citizens now are piling onto boats pulling up at its windswept beaches for the illegal journey across the Mediterranean.

The government does not provide figures on the number of Moroccans leaving illegally. But navy patrols intercepting migrant-laden boats plying the narrow Strait of Gibraltar between Morocco and Spain report they are finding them filled with Moroccans at a growing rate.
According to the Madrid government, 13,000 Moroccan migrants reached Spain in August, an “unprecedented” number, according to Mohammed Ali, a human rights activist and consultant to the regional council of Tetouan from where most migrant boats set sail.
“People are being forced to migrate for the same social and economic reasons they are revolting inside Morocco,” said Ahmed El Goatib, a Socialist Party militant who served jail time for offending King Mohammed VI. “The government might even be encouraging migration as a social escape valve and as a way to pressure Europe for money,” Ali said.
Moroccan navy sailors killed a 19-year-old Moroccan law student, Hayat Bellcacem, and seriously wounded a teenage boy when they fired machine guns to halt migrant boats in separate incidents last month, touching off large protests in the victims’ home towns of Tetouan and Agadir.
Supporters of Tetouan’s Moghreb Athletic soccer team marched to the city stadium chanting, “With our soul and with our heart we will avenge Hayat.”
A similar stadium protest in Agadir centered on demands for freedom to emigrate. The crowd hissed when the national anthem was played and shouts were heard rejecting Moroccan nationality. Someone in the crowd unfurled a Spanish flag.
Tetouan and Agadir were part of a Spanish protectorate in Morocco until they were ceded back to Morocco in 1958.
Popular revolts in Morocco tend to be short-lived. The soccer protesters and Hayat’s mother — who vociferously denounced the government following her daughter’s death — had stopped talking to the press by last week.
Local journalists say the family had been visited by the all-pervasive royal secret police, or DGST, and that some protest leaders in Tetouan had been jailed.
The EU may be relying on Morocco’s extensive police powers to control waves of migrants moving toward the Mediterranean from neighboring Algeria and Mauritania.
When hundreds of sub-Saharan Africans broke through border fences surrounding the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in July, Moroccan police rounded up hundreds more migrants gathering in the hills and forests around Ceuta and deported them back to the border with Algeria.
But political unrest within Morocco may in some cases feed the migration. Hundreds of people fled to the beaches of Tetouan from the Riff mountain region of Alucemas following a government crackdown on a local rebellion last year, according to activists. The protests were sparked by delays in the construction of a hospital.
“At the fourth day of the declaration of martial law, 150 people from the Riff were gathering at beaches in Tetouan to board boats to Spain,” said a Socialist militant in the coastal region.
He said it is in the EU’s interest to pressure the Moroccan government to respect human rights and social needs to avoid a social explosion that would drive even more people to attempt the crossing to Spain.

Source: Voice of America

2 Machar Followers Freed in South Sudan

South Sudanese authorities on Friday released two former high-ranking followers of rebel leader Riek Machar who were facing death sentences.
President Salva Kiir’s government had imprisoned former Machar spokesman James Gadtet and former Machar security adviser William John Endley on charges of treason and conspiracy.
The two men were smiling and appeared to be in good condition as they were released by guards at Juba National Security Headquarters.
Interior Minister Michael Chienjek said, “Their release comes as part of the peace [agreement] implementation.”
The Sept. 12 agreement requires the parties to release all political detainees and prisoners of war. Kiir said his administration was checking to see whether there were more detainees to be released.
Chienjek said he expected Gadtet to travel to Khartoum and that Endley would be deported to his native South Africa.
Security officials in Kenya arrested Gadtet two years ago and sent him to South Sudan. Endley was arrested in Juba in August 2016, days after government forces and Machar’s bodyguards renewed fighting.
Both men were first sentenced to 20 years in prison, then later were sentenced to death by hanging.
Expressions of thanks, gratitude
Gadtet said he was happy to be free after two years in prison.
“I think this the same day I was arrested in Nairobi — on the 2nd of November 2016 — and today is the 2nd of November 2018,” he said. “I want to thank President Salva Kiir for ordering my release. I am very happy that this will enable me to reunite with my family.”
Endley said he was thankful for the hospitality of the South Sudanese people.
“Unfortunately, in all walks of life in all countries, you will get the good people and the bad people, and my memories of South Sudan always will be positive,” he said.
James Gatluak, a relative of Gadtet, praised the president for releasing Gadtet but said more political prisoners must be freed.
“I am very, very happy. I am thanking President Salva Kiir for the release of James Gadet, and I also thank Dr. Riek Machar for bringing peace to South Sudan,” he told South Sudan in Focus. “But still we have people we want: lawyer Dong Samuel and Aggrey Idri. We want these two people also [to] be released.”
Seif Magango, deputy director of Amnesty International East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, welcomed the release of the two men but also said more must be done.
“It is a relief that two lives have been spared,” he told South Sudan in Focus. “They were at risk of the death penalty, but that will not happen as a result of the pardon that was given. But that is not the end of it. There needs to be a proper end to the use of the death penalty. All people who are on death row need to be commuted so that no one in South Sudan is executed by the state.”

Source: Voice of America