In July 1971, the Moroccan army carried out a failed coup against the king in the palace of Skhirat. The following year airmen made a new coup, this time the plane of King Hassan II, on his return from France, was attacked in the air by jet fighters.
In the near future the Amazigh Information Centre will reconstruct this historical event with short articles. We do this on the basis of testimonies from people who have experienced this event, such as the fighter pilot Salah Hachad, books by critical authors such as Gilles Perrault, Stephen Smith and various newspaper articles.
International pressure on sick king
The changes in world politics and the state of health of Hassan II played a role in the closure of Tazmamart.
The year 1989 saw the fall of the Berlin Wall and the breakup of the Soviet Union, with the prospect of the end of the Cold War, which means that the Moroccan regime is no longer able to respond to the conflicting interests of the superpowers: the US and the Soviet Union.
In 1990 the book Notre Ami Le Roi (Our Friend the King) was published by the author Gilles Perrault, who denounces the large-scale human rights violations in Morocco and devotes an entire chapter to Tazmamart entitled: The living dead of Tazmamart.
International human rights organisations bring Tazmamart to the fore, Danielle Mitterrand, the wife of former French President François Mitterrand, chairman of the France Libertés Foundation – the Danielle-Mitterrand Foundation has pleaded with Hassan II for the release of political prisoners in Morocco.
At the beginning of the 1990s, doctors announced to Hassan II that he was suffering from an incurable disease and this was one of the reasons for him to revise his political policy so that his son, the current King Mohamed VI, could follow him without interruption when he dies. In this way he pardoned all his opponents.
More than half of the prisoners dead
More than half of the prisoners of Tazmamart died in the dungeon and were buried in the courtyard without any religious Ritual, their remains were sprinkled with a chemical substance so that no traces remain. The survivors were taken to the Ahermoumou school for cadets in 1991 to have them treated and to erase the visible traces of Tazmamart on their bodies with food and medication.
The prisoners sentenced to 20 years in prison have been returned to the prison from which they were abducted 18 years ago, the Kenitra prison. To add to the suffering, the prison director reads to them the pardon of Hassan II.
Royal grace and threat
Other prisoners sentenced to less than 20 years have served much longer than their sentences, some of them have died in Tazmamart. This explains Colonel Ahmed Dlimi’s words on the day of the Kenitra court ruling: “There is no difference between three years and twenty years in prison, it is all the same“. The trial was just a show trial, the plan for the regime’s revenge on the prisoners.
The executioner of Tazmamart, Colonel Bouchaib Feddoul, warns the survivors on their release in a threatening tone: “Forget everything you saw there [Tazmamart]! We will give you proof of identity, but if you ever reveal anything, we will make you disappear forever“.
Arrest after release
Army officer Ahmed Marzouki was arrested, threatened and intimidated again after his release from Tazmamart after the intelligence service found out that he wanted to publish a book together with a French writer. According to Marzouki, a university lecturer, who works as a supporter for the French writer, has reported him to the Moroccan secret service.
Marzouki was attacked by two people in Brussels in 2010. They beat up Marzouki and insulted him in Arabic. He was in Belgium to give a lecture on the theme of ‘reconciliation’ and human rights in Morocco.
Marzouki is the author of the French bestseller ‘Tazmamart, cellule 10’.
This article will be continued
Translated by: Najat M.