Yesterday, Farida Houdoe, the sister of the detainee Abdelali Houdoe, published a text she received from her brother on behalf of all detainees in the Oukkacha prison in Casablanca. With the consent of the Houdoe family, Arif News publishes the message:
A message from the Riffian popular mass protest movement to support the political prisoner Nasser Zafzafi with his nomination for the Sakharov Prize.
In just a couple of weeks from now and it will be two years since the gruesome crime against martyr Mohsin Fikri was committed, which also broke the straw of the camel’s back. This crime underlined once again the the systematic marginalisation policy adopted by the Moroccan State towards the Rif. The policy has remained unchanged since the so-called “independence” of the country. Exclusion, marginalisation and repression continue to define the relationship between the State with the Rif despite their cheap slogans that read “the new covenant,” rule of law “and” democratic transition“.
Out of the shadows appeared a man…
Right after the crushing of the martyr Mohsin Fikri, the young man Nasser Zafzafi appeared and spoke to the crowd with full courage and strength and demanded the officials of the highest ranks to take accountability and provide clarification and measures in resolving the crisis. This proved to be the pivotal moment in giving rise to what would be known as “People’s Movement”, led by the people of different social backgrounds and age groups including women, children, young people, the elderly in the entire Rif Region …
The peoples demands
A People’s Movement characterized by its peacefulness called for an investigation into the countless crimes committed against the Rif, as well as their just and legitimate rights to freedom, dignity, social justice and to provide basic living conditions concerning health, education and employment. This movement also brought all social currents and ideologies under one umbrella and spoke with one voice, being the voice of the people who want to live in dignity and freedom … “YES to freedom, NO to repression” was the voice of the people.
Back into history
The Riffian People’s Movement has succeeded in a short time in reviving hope in the hearts of the sons and daughters of the Rif. It opened the doors of history and refreshed the memory whereby the Riffian flag and the Amazigh flag act as symbols of identity, history, culture and glory, despite the efforts made by the government to erase them from the collective memory.
The youth is the future
The Riffian People’s Movement surpassed both man and nature and gained momentum due the unwavering commitment of the youth and everyone longing for a better future. The fact that it spread to different parts of the world is due to the youth who are permeated by ideas such as: human rights, peace, coexistence, love and honesty. This youth sacrificed their time, money and themselves for a country where everyone can live in freedom
… and his name is Nasser Zafzafi
Nasser Zafzafi was one of these Young Men, who said once: „I am not a leader nor do I want leadership. I am a citizen, like all other citizens who reject injustice, oppression and dictatorship. I strive together with my brothers and sisters to build a country in which there is room for everyone. A country where citizens dignity, human rights and freedom of expression are respected.”
Ethos, pathos, logos
He is one of those young people who were able to win the trust of the Riffians thanks to his reason, rationality, simplicity and clarity. Besides his refined ethics, humility and fighting spirit he is characterized by his seriousness, sincerity and steadfastness. In addition to his daring and clear way of stating his position, his frank and transparent contact with the audience, self-sacrifice, his way of including and engaging everyone while rejecting all forms and kinds of extremism won the hearts of the masses.
From an idea to a march
The philosophy of the Riffian People’s Movement broke with all the traditional and classical forms of the previously known concept of leadership, and presented a new alternative by adapting new creative ways of activism. As much as the result of energetic young people full of vitality and positivity, with love for teamwork, solidarity and partnership saturated by values of tolerance, coexistence and acceptance of the other. Since these values and norms are so typical and frequently shown during mass demonstrations and marches, some examples are listed here:
1) The march of candles and roses on November 11th, 2016
2) 40-day commemoration of the martyr Mohsin Fikri on December 10th, 2016 coinciding with the International Day of Human Rights
3) Ratification of the list of demands on March 5th, 2017
4) March of the shroud on April 10th, 2017
5) Tan-tan demonstration (knocking on kitchen utensils) on May 6th, 2017
6) March under the slogan “we are not separatists” on May 18th, 2017
The millions march on May 18th, 2017 was a clear and straightforward response to the majority political parties who accused the Riffians of separatism and betrayal. These serious and malicious accusations have paved the way for the arrest, kidnapping and torture of the People’s Movement activists to hold them under circumstances that are a blatant violation of all international conventions in the context of human rights and freedom of expression.
Hand in hand
The Riffian women stood next to their brothers in various forms of struggle, expressing their desire for a society of freedom and dignity. The march on March 8th, 2017 with a massive presence of the Riffian women is the proof of the ability to trust in herself and her self-awareness … hand in hand with the men to overthrow the traditional dogma.
Arif, the people and the region
The Rif is in possession of an enormous cultural wealth, history filled with glory and heroes. It’s people are free and love freedom, refuse to be chained into slavery and have always been against subjugation and submission to another under any kind of flag. It is nation who believes in the individual regardless of race, gender, religion and culture, whose youth strives for world peace. Evidence of this is the historical document, the demands list of the People’s Movement, which demands universal human rights. This gives an impression of the mentality of the Riffian, who love life, freedom and protectors of humanity.
Determination vs hard trials
The vivid example of what I am proclaiming here is the political prisoner Nasser Zafzafi. The young man is a ferm believer of human values and universal principles, despite being subjected to libel, torture and ill-treatment, as it was witnessed in the leaked video in which he was filmed naked at the office of the Judicial Police in Casablanca and clear traces of abuse could be seen on his body. After this he was separated from the rest of the world for 15 months, held in a small cell where all conditions regarding health are absent. He continues to insist, that he has no hatred or resentment towards anyone because he believes that patience and sacrifice is the price that must be paid by anyone who desires to live in a free and decent country and that success during the most difficult trials of life is one of the most important achievements that can bring joy to man.
Our imprisoned activist of the Riffian People’s Movement, Nasser Zafzafi, will remain a symbol of peaceful struggle, a shining beacon on the path of emancipation and a role model for future generations. He will certainly need the support of free-spirited people in the home country and beyond. The reward for his contribution in defending human dignity and freedom will be channeled back to him through our recognition in particular and the worlds acknowledgment for what he has offerd. Let his candidacy for the Sakharov Prize for Human Rights and Freedom of Speech be a first step towards this recognition.
We are calling all to stand up for what’s right
And that is why we want to thank everyone who contributed to the nomination of the activist Nasser Zafzafi for the Sakharov Prize. We therefore call on all actors for freedom, all human rights organizations and all institutions to support Nasser Zafzafi’s candidacy for the Sakharov Prize and awarding the Sakharov Prize to Nasser Zafzafi will be a symbolic tribute to his two-year struggle in which the Riffian People’s Movement mourning over three martyrs: Mohsin Fikri, Imad al-Attabi, Abdelhafid Elhaddad, not to mention the hundreds of prisoners who got (when added up) more than 10 centuries of effective imprisonment and most of them of course are still behind bars. In addition to the hundreds of ongoing investigations against local and activists abroad.
The award of the Sakharov Prize to Nasser is a tribute to the struggle of the Riffians and all citizens across the whole country, who are longing for freedom, dignity and social justice.
(Written and supported by the prisoners of conscience in Oukacha in support of Nasser Zefzafi for the Sakharov Prize, translated to English by Arif News), link to the Dutch version.