Mass arrests, trials and deportations: report by our Alarm Phone friend

Our Alarm Phone member D. was arrested in the night of the 19th/20th of February in Ceuta (Spain) when several hundred people attempted to cross into Europe. He was in a group of 11 people who had already crossed all the fences when they were arrested on Spanish territory by the Morrocan Forces Auxiliaires (a paramilitary police force). At 4 am, they were taken back to Morocco. They were violently arrested, having stones thrown at them and being beaten. Some people were injured and more than 100 people ended up in prison.

The situation in prison was very difficult and D. couldn’t inform anyone about his situation because he was denied access to a phone. The authorities said that people arrested at the fences were „illegal“. This is an absurd claim as such, but our friend had applied for residency already months before, but in prison they didn’t give him the possibility to make a call to prove this. For the trial, the imprisoned were wrongly accused that they had used weapons (knives, stones, etc.) and that they had humiliated the Moroccan Forces Auxiliaires. The accused were not given an opportunity of defending themselves in court, they were only given time to introduce themselves. They were denied access to a lawyer under the pretext that they were in an “irregular situation”.

After being imprisoned for more than 3 months the Moroccan state began the deportation process. The country of origin of Alarm Phone member D. was obviously cooperating with the Moroccan state and agreed to take him back. He arrived in Cameroon without any financial support and without any prospects, after having lived in Morocco for so many years.
„My hope is that the others who are still in prison shouldn’t have the same treatment like us“ said D.

As friends and Alarm Phone comrades, we are very angry and we will continue to fight against these border policies. The responsibility for the ongoing violence and human rights violations that travelers face in Morocco lies with the EU that continues to finance transit states to prevent people’s free movement.

To overcome global injustice and this neo-colonialism, we must create societies in solidarity!
We demand freedom of movement and ferries for all!

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Subsaharan migrants in Morocco / Algeria: Raids – Displacements – Arrests

Report Alarm Phone Western Med March/April 2017

Since the end of November 2016, the war against Subsaharan migrants in Morocco and Algeria has intensified. The Alarm Phone in Morocco is monitoring the situation on the ground in order to shed some light onto the tragic facts that have been caused by the repression of migrants: raid operations, arrests and mass deportations.

Everywhere, we witness the same facts: the violation of fundamental rights and abuses of all kinds: the theft of personal belongings (phones, bags, etc), the destruction of camps and material, the deprivation of food, and harassment.. These instances of violence cause forced displacement and maintain a situation of constent insecurity for Subsaharan migrants.

The operations for the deportation of Subsaharan migrants are multiplying. In Algeria, migrants are being deported towards the South, the Sahara, at the border with Niger and Mali. These deportations are carried out in inhuman conditions, migrants are abandoned without the minimum necessities for survival (food, water, etc). More than 1500 migrants were arrested in Ziralda (Alger).

In Morocco, deportations are carried out towards the Moroccan-Algerian border (Oujda region) and towards the South of the country. Several people we contacted after the raid spoke out about the violence they had suffered. This was confirmed by Algerian human rights organisations that reported these incidents.

Between November 2016 and February 2017, raids were carried out in the border towns and in cities at the centre of the country. During these raids, personal belongings were stolen (phones, money, luggage, etc). People remained blocked at the border in „buffer zones“, including a group of 47 people (men and women). Another group of 5 people, including one woman, tried to arrive on Moroccan territory but was arrested by the Moroccan authorities. These migrants have suffered from all kind of abuse as well as physical and psychological torture.

Thanks to them, the Alarm Phone has obtained testimony of the violence committed by the authorities between February and March 2017.

  • Mouhamadou, 24 years old, Ivory Coast: beaten and flogged which has handicapped the fingers of his left hand

  • Esseline, 26 years old, Cameroon: chased by the Algerian border guards although she was pregnant, she had a miscarriage.

  • Cedric, 16 years old, Cameroon: had to stay at the border in a military barack for three days, deprived of his luggage.

Raids and forced displacement: the drama at the Algerian-Moroccan border continues

The militarisation of the Algerian-Moroccan border increases the risks for migrants. Along the border, the Algerian authorities have dug trenches (3 metres long, 3 to 4 metres deep), and on the other side, Morocco has built an enclosed wall. The Alarm Phone has reported 3 deaths between the end of 2016 and early 2017, and several wounded (broken bones) because people fell into these anti-migrant trenches. Apart from that, the border guards have started shooting into the air in order to scare migrants and force them to take flight which can have serious consequences. Some of the mgirants who made it to Moroccan territory were in a bad state of health, physically and psychologically.

After the attempts at crossing the Ceuta fences, raids were carried out by the Moroccan authorities in the areas of Mesnana (Tanger) and Castellejo. These operations resulted in the arrest and the deporation of numerous migrants. Some were deported towards the Algerian-Moroccan border, others towards the centre of the country, towards Fes, Tiznit and Kenitra. These deportations were conducted in inhuman conditions. The Alarm Phone has received testimony of violence and intimidation that migrants had to go through. More than 20 national and international organisations, including the Alarm Phone, have publicly denounced these operations.

The Alarm Phone has followed up on the situation of a group of 47 deported persons, and another group of 5 people. Some of them have a regular residence permit. Some are minors, two of them were at the Protection Centre in Oujda during recent deportations. Among those deported to Algeria, some managed to come back onto Moroccan territory. A group of 5 people, including a handicapped women, found themselves in the buffer zone for more than 10 days without water and food. Alarm Phone has verified this information based on videos and photos.

Tangier – Tetouan in the North of Morocco: mass arrests and trials

Thanks to information we received from friends in Tangier, we learned that more than 100 migrants were arrested at the Ceuta fences and are currently in prison in Tetouan.

When several hundreds of migrants tried to cross the Ceuta fences in mid-February 2017, the Moroccan security forces have chased and arrested several migrants, including wounded people. For more than one month they have been kept imprisoned in Tetouan. The Alarm Phone has managed to contact some of them by phone. We learned that more than 100 mgirants are imprisoned and that they were on trial in Tetouan. However, it is likely that their number is even higher than the number mentioned. The trial took place in a record time frame: those who were arrested on the 19th, 20th and 21st of February were sentenced to 3 to 6 months in prison. These rash legal proceedings did not guarantee any fair trial. The accused did not have any means of defence. Some did not have access to the minutes and documents. Translations from the Arabic documents into other languages were not undertaken. The way the detainees were treated is inacceptable. The prisoners have denounced the discriminatory detention conditions (no right to receive visitors, no possibility to meet with human rights organisations, etc)

Consequently, the Alarm Phone Western Med:

  • expresses its support for the victims of this injustice and demands that all migrants accused of having “illegally“ crossed the borders be freed

  • denounces these unfair trials and the violation of the prisoners’ rights

  • calls upon the Moroccan authorities to respect human rights, guarantee better medical conditions and concede the right to receive visitors such as friends, if families and relatives cannot be present

  • calls for the respect of human rights at the Moroccan-Algerian and the Spanish-Moroccan border

  • emphasizes that this situation has been caused by European policies that are based on a strictly securitized approach

  • calls upon initiatives, organisations and individuals to support these political prisoners by denouncing the lethal European border regime and the lack of respect of human rights on both sides of the Mediterranean.

New publication: brochure VOICES FROM THE BORDER

title-image-brochure-voix-des-frontieresNoBordersMorocco and AlarmPhone have published the brochure VOICES FROM THE BORDER! A collection of articles, testimonies, analysis and artistic pieces denouncing the European border regime and its inhuman consequences. The brochure, written mainly by North and West African activists, reflects the situation at the Moroccan-Spanish border in the wider European-African context.

You can download the brochure (in English and French, some parts in Arabic and Wolof) here: brochure_voicesfromtheborder_voixdesfrontieres_2016

If you would like to have some printed copies sent to your city/social centre/group, send an email to nobordersmorocco@riseup.net

Destruction in Boukhalef

After the raids, deportations and murders from the first week of October, the Moroccan authorities continue to instill terror in the migrant communities.
The majority of attacks has so far been concentrated on Cassiago (Ceuta) and Nador (Melilla) but Saturday a week ago (10th of October), the police started destroying the camps and personal belongings of the migrants living in Tangier.
Following the big raids and deportations in July, the migrant communities which used to live in the squatted houses in Tangier found themselves in the streets. Due to their resilience, those Tangier residents built themselves a life in the forests and fields around Boukhalef, see the situation here.

On Saturday, 10th of October), the police came to the “Cameroonian forest” at the entrance of Boukhalef (next to Aswak Assalam, the big supermarket), and to the little Senegalese forests next to the airport. They destroyed the camps, burnt the modest sleeping spaces, arrested and deported people, and made life for migrants even worse.
Here are some pictures and videos, taken and filmed by migrant activists, which show the scope of destruction.

(In French, with English subtitles)

 

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What remains of the sleeping spaces and “bunkers”…

And personal belongings, spread around and ripped apart:

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From now on, the residents of those camps are sleeping in the streets, dispersed, and without any means.

After the evictions – on the outskirts of Boukhalef

Since the evictions in early July, the housing situation in Boukhalef has been similar to Cassiago (Ceuta) or Nador (Melilla): most of the people live in the forests, without shelter.
Generally, not all Subsaharans are denied a room. But for the majoriy, it’s not an option because the landlords often ask for a at least 2 month financial guarantee – from people who have nothing, or even worse, they ask for a rent contract – from people who don’t have papers. Nevertheless, there are some houses in Doha and Miznana (2 neighbourhoods a bit before Boukhalef) which are currently overcrowded by Blacks.

Others live dispersed in several forests in the surroundings of Boukhalef. People spend their day on the streets of Boukhalef, looking for some little business (selling cigarettes, or coffee, or braiding hair) or they are begging.

Some forests are quite far away, so you have to walk at least 3km, and the living conditions are problematic. Continue reading

A tribute

Some of us had the chance to meet Simon.

David Fidele, the direcor of “The Land Between”, wrote this short tribute to Simon which we want to share.

This is Simon – also known as “Rasta”.
I met Simon while in Tanger, Morocco, at the start of this year. I was walking the streets and he came up to me with a big smile on his face, to shake my hand and give me a hug. I didn’t immediately recognise him, until he told me that we had met in the Gourougou Mountains of northern Morocco last year – he was living in the mountains along with thousand of other Sub-Saharan African migrants, dreaming of one day entering Europe for a “better life”.
We went to a cafe to drink a tea together, and I showed him my finished film. He loved it.
Simon was from Guinea Conakry. He was an artist. A musician.
He showed me photos of himself playing music, and told me that all he wanted to do was to go to Europe to play music.
Now that will never happen.
I just received the news that Simon passed away last week. He drowned while attempting to cross from Morocco to Spain on a small boat, without a life jacket. It is being reported that over 1,200 migrants successfully reached Spain from Morocco last week. It is suspected (but not being reported) that up to 100 migrants also died while attempting this journey in the past week.
We put up walls. We put up barriers. And we think that this is a way to stop the movement of people. To stop migration. But it is not.
All it does it make determined people take incredible risks, which so often turns fatal.
Every migrant has their own unique story. Some are asylum seekers, fleeing war or persecution. Some are “economic migrants”, wanting to work to send money back to their families.
And some are footballers. Artists. Musicians. Wanting to share their talent with the world, and get opportunities that they can not in their own countries.
Simon just wanted the opportunity to play music.
I only spent a very short time with Simon, but I know that his character, personality and enthusiasm touched many people in his time in Morocco.
Here is a song that he recorded in Morocco called “Rastaman”, where his music lives on – https://myspace.com/diasporaguinea/music/song/rasta-man-95799271-106745656 (you have to stop the “advertising” first, and then press play to listen to his music)

Violence at the Spanish-Moroccan border

In this video migrants talk about their experienced violence at the Spanish-Moroccan border.
They blame the Spanish Guardia Civil for beating up migrants at the border fences of Melilla and Ceuta, using tear gas against people while they are on the several meter high fences and directly pushing back migrants from Spanish to Moroccan territory through small gates in the fences.
People tell about the Moroccan Forces Auxiliaires hitting migrant’s heads with rocks and iron bars.
The interviews were made at the 7th of April 2014 in Rabat and shown at a press conference of the platform “protection-migrants” at the 15th of April 2014, when different Moroccan human rights organisations demanded the “end of the violence against migrants”. (only in French)

New blog from migrants talking about their situation

Some migrants in Tangier, Morocco, the Sexion Doundou, started their own blog to tell about their experiences here and en route, and share their thoughts about life, borders, freedom and migration.

Sexion Doundou explained in their own words:
“Sexion Doundou is a positive thought. Because life can be two things. You either survive or you die. For now we are surviving, but we don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Sexion Doundou is something we created between us, to bring unity and solidarity. We came here with the mission to cross. So this is the kind of thing we can do to give each other courage. Sexion Doundou resembles the good things we do, we want it to be something positive, a way we can talk to our brothers and make them conscious. That’s our mission and that’s what we are fighting for. Because we are all struggling to make life better.”

You find the blog here: sexiondoundou.wordpress.com

EU is funding human rights abuses behind the razor wire

ARTICLE BY PAUL MASON of The Guardian

Ibrahim, from Gambia, paddled into what he thought were Spanish waters and phoned the coastguard, demanding to be rescued. They handed him to the Moroccan coastguard and he’s now in Tangier. Amadou, from Cameroon, had tried to scale the border fence into the Spanish enclave of Melilla. “The Moroccan cops beat us with their batons,” he says. He was taken across the border with Algeria, near the city of Oujda 75 miles (120km) away, and dumped there with 35 others. Now back in Morocco, he lives rough, in a forest, reliant on the local mosque for food.

Gathering testimony from these men, and others like them, is not easy. They hide in the slums and forests. They bear the trademark scars I have seen on destitute migrants on all the borders of Europe: scars from racist beatings; scars from scrambling across rubble to escape the police. They have the deep fatigue and torn clothing that come with a life lived mainly under starlight. Continue reading

Saturday 3rd November 2012 Interview with boat survivor from crossing incident that occurred on the 28th October 2012

Interview recorded in Tangier in the home of the survivor, and the former home of two people who died in the crossing incident.

All participants are anonymous and so are identified by letters here.

We (R and J) ask questions in English to “I” who speaks Wolof to “M”, who asks “B” (the survivor) in French. The questions are translated back via Wolof to English. The transcript below is only the English spoken.

If you can help with translation/transcription for the Francais or Wolof parts of the recording, please get in touch.

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I: He says he will tell us everything even if another journalist is here he’s looking for international journalists to feed them the information, and these people are not working and how they maltreat the black people here. If they were working a lot of people would not die like this. They are not doing the job. Continue reading