Morocco: Free the three detainees from Jebha (Chefchaouen)!

As a result of a mass protest against the lack of water supplies, power cuts and other problems affecting the village of Jebha (Chefchaouen) in Morocco, three leaders of the protest have been arrested. We call on all our readers to send messages of solidarity.

Three young men, Yassin Bazi, Zatev Mohammed and Mohammed Said Oorjagl, were arrested on Monday, January 11, 2010 in the village of Jebha in the province of Chefchaouen in the North of Morocco. They were amongst the activists who are protesting against the lack of water and electricity in their village since the end of last year.

They have been accused of participating in an illegal demonstration and destroying public property. This is a clear act of intimidation of the local population who have heroically fought for better living conditions for their community.

This is the background of the arrests. On December 29 a large crowd organized a sit-in in front of the electricity company. For a week no drinking water was available for most of the families. The director of the company refused to talk with them and even insulted the representatives of the organized community. As a result of this arrogant attitude and refusal to come up with any solution, the population staged a demonstration in the village.

General assembly after a demonstrationGeneral assembly after a demonstration This demonstration was as massive as those last year against the Israeli imperialist attack against Gaza. Actually it was more representative of the population as a whole as a lot of adult and older people, men and women alike, joined in. This had never been seen before in the village. This forced the authorities and the police (the Gendarmerie) to negotiate with them and make all kinds of promises to defuse the movement. The next day the teachers, the shopkeepers, the small artisans and the youth organised a general strike in the village.

It was a day of “civil disobedience”. Almost the whole village was shut down. At 10am the students came out of their school and demonstrated in the centre of the village. Many other people joined them. At that moment the mood in the village became really electric. Some people broke the windows of the electricity company. The slogans also became more radical and more general; against the high cost of living and youth unemployment. At the end of the demonstration a general assembly was held where everybody could participate and have their say.

Demonstration in JebhaA list of demands and grievances was drawn up. This list includes demands such as the guaranteed supply of drinking water for the whole village, an end to the regular power cuts, the setting up of a medical centre with enough doctors and an ambulance, the repairing of the local roads, a football pitch and jobs for the unemployed. Then they elected a committee mandated to discuss with the authorities. As always they received only promises and promises but no concrete solutions.

The committee reported back to the general assembly, which decided to give some time to the authorities to come up with some solutions, and at the same time also to continue the mobilisations with the aim of keeping up the pressure. This time has been used by the vindictive authorities and the gendarmerie to prepare a plan of intimidation and repression against the leaders of this movement. Part of this plan involved the arrest of the three young men at the beginning of the week.

The human rights organization MAHR, Moroccan Association of Human Rights, [AMDH, Association Marocaine des Droits Humains] is involved in the protest against these arbitrary arrests and accusations.

The IMT calls on comrades, sympathisers and readers of In Defence of Marxism to support the campaign of solidarity with the Jebha three! We demand the immediate dropping of all charges and the release of the arrested comrades. Intimidation by the authorities and the police should also cease immediately.

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