Morocco urged to end violent crackdown on protests
Moroccan authorities must not use excessive force against protesters, Amnesty International said today, as activists called for renewed pro-reform demonstrations across the country on Sunday.Scores of protesters in Morocco have been physically assaulted by security forces in recent weeks. Seven protesters are still detained in Tangiers and face criminal charges in relation to their participation in protests. “What we are witnessing is a draconian response to people merely exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly”, Amnesty International said.“The Moroccan security forces must not repeat the same mistakes that they have made in recent weeks, where peaceful protests were subject to a violent crackdown, “the organization added.The Moroccan authorities have been under pressure to respond to demands for political and human rights reform, following continuing demonstrations since 20 February inspired by events in North Africa.Those taking part included political activists, members of human rights organizations and members of the "20 February Movement", which calls for reform in Morocco, inspired by similar movements for change in the region. On 28 and 29 May, protests demanding political and social reform and an end to corruption continued in several cities, including Kenitra, Safi, Fes, Tangiers, Casablanca and Salé.The protests were mainly peaceful. However, Amnesty International has received numerous testimonies about scores of protesters who were physically assaulted by security forces wearing uniforms as well as civilian clothes. They were beaten with truncheons and sticks and kicked. Several victims, including women and children, sustained head and facial injuries. In Safi, ten men were reportedly arrested by the security forces, taken to cars, physically assaulted and taken to remote areas where they were abandoned. Many of them returned back home on foot with serious injuries.On 25 May, about 8,000 doctors gathered in a sit-in in Rabat in front of the Ministry of Health and wanted to march to the parliament. The security forces reportedly physically assaulted them with truncheons and kicked them. At least 40 sustained different injuries. A 43-year-old doctor underwent surgery for a broken pelvis.Amnesty International has also received reports that the security forces have been visiting families of activists from the "20 February Movement", intimating and threatening them. Amnesty International continues to receive information that some protesters treated in government-run hospitals have been denied copies of medical reports detailing their injuries, potentially obstructing their efforts to obtain justice and reparation.In March a number of reforms were announced, among them a new National Human Rights Council. King Mohammed VI also promised a plan of constitutional reform, as well as giving up some of some his political power.However, the breaking up of demonstrations is a serious blow to the ostensible promise of reform.