The 6th of February 2016, a transnational protest action took place in Morocco and Europe to commemorate migrants killed by the Spanish border-police Guardia Civil exactly two years ago in Tarajal at the beach of Ceuta.
About 400 people gathered under the slogan Stop the War Against Migrants in front of the Spanish embassy in Rabat to protest against the murderous border policy of the European Union. The “Comité de Suivi de Reseau pour la Mobilisation du 6 Fevrier 2016 Maroc”, consisting of various sub-Saharan and Moroccan Human Rights organizations, activists from Tangier and the Camps of Nador, as well as transnational collectives and individuals, organized the event.
Mostly sub-Saharan migrants, but Moroccans in solidary as well, made their way to the capital from Tangier, Tetouan, Nador, Oujda, Fez, Meknes, Casablanca, Tiznit and Layoune. The protest was joined by European activist too. Slogans like Freedom and Dignity for all Africans and Open the Borders were shouted angrily towards the Spanish embassy.
The atmosphere was heated, also due to the fact that a sit-in protest planned a year earlier had been criminalized and prohibited by the police. Now, finally, people, some of whom witnessed and survived the 6th of February in Tarajal themselves, were able to express their anger for the first time in the streets.
Slogans like: European Union: Stop the hypocrisy and the killing at the borders! Freedom of movement! And Open the Borders, not the deserts! could be read on various banners and posters. A group from Fez brought pictures from their friends who had been killed on the 6th of February 2014 and a musician from Senegal now living in Tangier sang a song for all the people who had died at and because of the border.
On t-shirts and stickers the demands for Ferries not Frontex and Ferries for all! could be read everywhere. This is the slogan of a campaign from the network WatchTheMed Alarm Phone, an activist hotline receiving distress calls from migrants at sea who are on life threatening journey to Europe. The same time when the demonstration took place, the Alarm Phone was involved with several boats in distress.
A young protester amongst the crowd was very scared: a boat carrying his friends had not been found yet and was lost somewhere between Tangier and Tarifa. Two persons were already dead and the Spanish coastguards was not able tofind the boat. Very late this Saturday (6.2.2016) activists from the Alarm Phone confirmed that the boat had been discovered by the Moroccan coastguards with 5 survivors out of 7.
The rage about the consequences of Europe’s border policy and the constant and meaningless dying of thousands of comrades was not to be overheard this Saturday.
It was the first time that a demonstration of this size took place and sub-Saharan migrants from all over Morocco came together to raise their voice in public to call for changes in the European border regime. Interviews were given for international TV channels, radios and newspapers.
Afterwards, the program continued in a big conference hall in the quarter of Agdal, where people from several countries spoke. Women and men from Morocco, Gambia, Mali, Cameroon, Senegal and other countries discussed issues revolving aroundglobal justice, and freedom of movement for everybody. A Cameroonian music band played at the end.
Sunday everybody talked about the rally the day before. At the sales stalls of the migrant communities people who had missed the event complained about not having been informed. Dani, one of the activists, laughed and said that during attempts of mobilisation, many people had big doubts whether they should come to demonstrate or not. It was debated whether it was worth risking another arrest and deportation to the desert.
In the end, many made their way from Fez to Rabat early in the morning to arrive on time. “We made it possible” Dany said, “we succeeded in what many people thought was impossible!” Rijaal as well, who organized the mobilisation of 70 persons from Tangier wrote to all social network channels that all friends were happy with the event. Damas, who went with his group back to their camps in Fez wrote over WhatsApp “Congratulations for successful actions, now we will continue fighting, on and on!”
At the guesthouse project, where sub-Saharan women and their children can rest for some months in a secure shelter to recover, Darel said: “That was an unforgettable day! It was the first time in Morocco that our voice was heard, in front of the embassy, on the streets and at the conference as well. This was very encouraging for all of us. We are not often in the streets here in Morocco, because we have so many bad experiences with racism. But yesterday was a special day!”
The protest against the war against migration and for the freedom of movement did not only take place in Morocco. Migrants and solidary antiracist groups demonstrated the same day in Ceuta, Melilla, Madrid, Barcelona, Strasbourg, Berlin, Rom, Genoa and Idomeni.
see also: 6feb-ceuta.org