Göttingen, 07. März 2010
The Society for Threatened Peoples STP (Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker GfbV) accused the European Union (EU) on the occasion of its summit meeting with Morocco in Granada, Spain, on Sunday of ignoring violations of human rights in the north African kingdom. "The arbitrary persecution of human rights activists who speak up for the Berber culture and of critical journalists and Morocco's blocking attitude in the West Sahara question are tamely accepted by the EU”, criticised the STP Africa consultant, Ulrich Delius. "Instead of giving precedence to human rights the EU allows itself in its policies towards Morocco to be guided by economic and strategic interests and is turning itself into a stooge in the West Sahara question.”
"Ten years after his coming to power Morocco's King Mohammed VI is still seen abroad as a reformer”, said Delius. "The King is not giving human rights activists, journalists and opposition politicians more freedom, but turning the clock back. Anyone criticising royalty and criticising the deplorable circumstances is systematically silenced.” In this way the Berber activist and President of the human rights organisation of the Rif, Chakib El-Kheyari, was sentenced to three years imprisonment and a heavy fine. He had dared to criticise publicly corruption, drug trafficking and the deep poverty in the Rif Mountains.
Peaceful demonstrations of Mazirs (Berbers) are broken up by force. Mazir activists are arrested and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment, criticised the STP. The founding of a democratic party of the Berbers has been forbidden, teaching in the Mazir language is often hindered and parents are forbidden to give their children Berber forenames. Yet the Mazirs make up some 60 percent of the population.
Critical journalists are silenced by subtle means. The newspaper "Journal Hebdomadaire” had to go bankrupt in February 2010. Its editors had to flee abroad after the royals had ordered a stop to advertising in the paper because of reporting which was too critical.
"The situation in West Sahara occupied by Morocco is even worse”, reported Delius. The peaceful demonstrators are arbitrarily intimidated, arrested, beaten, tortured and sent to prison in unfair court cases. Morocco has for 19 years systematically undermined all attempts of the United Nations to solve the future of the West Sahara in a credible plebiscite. The STP accuses the EU of being a party to a fisheries agreement with Morocco on the plundering of the resources of the occupied West Sahara and thus becoming the stooge of the kingdom.