Rights groups call for restraint in wake of Morocco protests



Morocco should refrain from violence against teacher-trainee protesters and investigate an incident during which Moroccan police attacked and beat peaceful teacher-trainee protesters earlier this month, causing dozens of injuries, says Human Rights Watch:

The watchdog released a statement on Monday remarking on the Moroccan police’s use of excessive force to disperse peaceful teacher-trainee protests [above] in six cities in the North African country. HRW said teacher-trainees took to the streets in six cities – Casablanca, Marrakech, Inezgane, Tangiers, Fez, and Oujda – after a call by the National Coordination of Teacher-Trainees at Regional Centres for Education and Training in Morocco, for a nationwide protest against two new decrees reducing their stipends and job security.

“Clubbing and tossing stones at peaceful demonstrators would fall well outside the realm of lawful means of dispersing a peaceful demonstration,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director.

About four thousand workers staged a sit-in outside parliament in Rabat in a show of popular protest against planned pension reforms, a freeze on talks with civil society groups and ongoing violations of worker rights, the Solidarity Center’s Carolyn Butler adds:

Protesters expressed solidarity with student teachers beaten by police last week while peacefully marching against the decision to reduce their stipends and block their path to teaching jobs. The sit-in is a follow-up to last month’s nationwide strike by national and local public-sector workers, organized by the four largest trade union confederations in Morocco…..Images and video footage of police attacks on young protesters around the country on Thursday last week went viral on social media, inspiring condemnation from local and international sources.

Moroccan activists formerly associated with the February 20 Movement are redirecting their focus to cultural activities away from overtly political demands, the Carnegie Endowment’s Sada Journal reports.

The activists’ current approach is a sign of maturity in the  context of a region in turmoil, the National Endowment for Democracy’s Hanane Zelouani Idrissi tweeted.

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