The Hirak Rif activist Achour EL Amraoui was released early in the morning on the 6th of September 2019. Achour, who had posted on Facebook about France’s dubious role in Moroccan politics, was arrested on the 6th of September 2017. He was accused of inciting terrorism and sentenced to two years in prison.
In a (recorded) telephone conversation with a friend, he said that he had been interrogated by the French secret service.
Achour was previously detained in the Sale prison (near Rabat), but was transferred even further away to the Taroudant prison at 1100 km from his home in the Rif, Nador which made it even harder for family and friends to visit him.
We congratulate Achour with his release from the small prison of Taroudant to the large prison called Morocco.
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Imad El Attabi, demonstrator of ‘Hirak Rif’, the first to be killed by the hand of the Moroccan security forces during the Hirak Rif protestsBy Riftime — 3 years ago
The 22-year-old Imad El Attabi, like thousands of others, went out to demonstrate for his rights in Al Hoceima on 20 July 2017. When he left his house he could not know that he would not return and that a bullet from the Moroccan security forces would put an end to his life. On top of this crime his family was denied the right to say the last goodbye to him. Witnesses of this murder were pressured, intimidated and imprisoned.
When Imad El Attabi took part in the demonstration of 20 July 2017 in Al Hoceima, he was suddenly shot with live ammunition, he was hit in the head and fell to the ground, whereupon his friends took him to the local hospital. Nurse Najib Bouzambou witnessed this. Subsequently, without consulting his family or the doctor on duty, his lifeless body was taken by the local authorities, most probably on assignment from Rabat, the next day by helicopter to the military hospital in Rabat.
On 8 August 2017 Imad El Attabi was officially declared dead by the Moroccan regime. Thousands of Riffians said goodbye to him during his funeral in Al-Hoceima. That the Moroccan regime had something to hide with regard to the death of Imad El Attabi who was buried in Iyyar Azegwagh, a nearby town near Al Hoceima, is evidenced by the fact that the coffin was not allowed to be opened, his medical file was not given access and his family was put under pressure by the Moroccan regime not to speak publicly about the death of their son.
After the funeral, the Moroccan regime started the prosecution against the witnesses of this political murder of El Attabi. The first was Abdelhak Al Fahsi (1999) from Ayt Ulichek in the province of Driouch (Nador). He was a direct witness to the political murder and responded to a call by lawyer Abdessadeq El Bouchattaoui. This lawyer presented himself on facebook as the lawyer of the El Attabi family and searched that way for witnesses of the murder of El Attabi. El Fahsi then contacted the lawyer. This brought not only the lawyer in contact with this witness, but also the Moroccan secret service. To put it mildly, this was a naive action by this lawyer who had also assisted Nasser Zefzafi and other kidnapped Riffian activists. He should have known that he was spied on and that he should not have endangered his clients in this way.
And so Al Fahsi was arrested in August 2017 and falsely accused of crimes. He was systematically tortured during pre-trial detention. This may have had something to do with the fact that Al Fahsi had registered the murder with his smartphone, the smartphone with the evidence was confiscated by the police. During a show trial he was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. This sentence also meant that he could not testify in the case of Imad El Attabi. Moroccan criminal law does not allow the testimony of a person with a criminal record. The harsh punishment also served as a deterrent to other witnesses and it was hoped to silence them.
Nabil Achahbar also witnessed the murder of El Attabi. Photos and videos show how this Riffian activist was abducted by several Moroccan agents with brute force. All this because he witnessed this political murder and together with others he carried El Attabi to the hospital. The Moroccan court sentenced him to fifteen months in prison and he was released in October 2018.
The previously mentioned nurse Najib Bouzambou, who was at the hospital when El Attabi arrived there, was given access to the X-ray photographs of Imad El Attabi showing the bullet in his head. Bouzambou was arrested by the Moroccan police on the afternoon of Sunday 13 August 2017 and taken to the police station where he was humiliated, scolded, beaten and abused by Arab-speaking executioners. Najib Bouzambou was sentenced to 2 years in prison.
Younes Fathi, who was 20 years old at the time, had contact with the witness Abdelhak Al Fahsi who mentioned his name in the trial verbally. Fathi comes from the same region as Fahsi. For this reason Fathi was arrested in September 2017 and was convicted during a show trial for, among other things, taking part in an unauthorised demonstration, funding from abroad. Younes Fathi was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment.
In an interview the Moroccan Minister for Human Rights Mustapha Ramid denied in all tones that there had been deaths during the Rif protest movement (Hirak Rif). In fact, he denied that the Moroccan police who had been specially sent to the Rif had any ammunition at their disposal. That this is a huge lie is clear from a trial verbally drawn up by the judicial police following the fire in a police building in Imzoueren, where it is stated in black and white that this police unit had various weapons and types of ammunition at its disposal.
However, the King of Morocco Mohammed VI praised the bloody behaviour of his police officers in the Reef during his annual speech from the throne on 29 July 2017, more than a week after the death of Imad El Attabi. In doing so, he resolutely rejected all criticism of the police action.
The entire funeral ceremony of Imad El Attabi was directed by the Moroccan regime, nobody else had anything to say about it, including his family. Today, three years later, the actual cause of Imad El Attabi’s death has still not been made public, so no serious investigation has been done into it.
Translated by: Najat M.
By Riftime — 3 years ago
The Rif was always an independent and autonomous area despite the fact that part of it was occupied. In this area they repeatedly and fiercely resisted various occupiers, such as Portugal, Spain and the sultans of Fes and Marrakech.
In the course of time, several sovereign states were founded by the Riffians, such as the state of Nekour and the state of Amejjaou. Perhaps the last state they founded was the ‘Arifublik’ inspired by the creation of the French Republic after the fall of the royal house, there. Maybe this was the reason to revolt against the ‘Emirate system’ and, following the European example (with which the Riffians always maintained a lot of contact) to create their own form of state: the Arifublik.
When Spain attempted to occupy the Rif at the beginning of the last century, it met with fierce resistance from the Riffians. The Spaniards had and number of defeats to collect resulting in the final defeat at the battle of Anoual, which therefore played an important role in the creation of Rif republic in 1921.
On September 18, 1921, under the leadership of Mohammed Abdelkrim al Khattabi (1882-1963), the Rif state was proclaimed. A state with its own government, parliament, anthem, currency, army, etc.
The European colonial powers saw in this young state a threat because the proclamation of an independent state by the Riffians could be seen as an example by other occupied peoples and as a source of inspiration.
For this reason, Spain, ‘Morocco’, the USA, Germany and France formed an international coalition. The US supplied pilots (mercenaries), Germany supplied poison gas and France, together with Spain, sent about half a million soldiers to the Rif.
During this war, which lasted from 1921 to 1927, this coalition did not hesitate to use poison gas against unarmed civilians. The president of the Rif, Mohammed Abdel Krim el Khattabi, turned to the international community, but there was no reaction from this quarter.
That is why he was forced to surrender to France in 1926, who then banished him to Reunion, an island in the Indian Ocean. The Rif fell largely under Spanish and partly under French rule. In 1956, the Rif was handed over to Morocco.
The establishment of Moroccan authority in the Rif created tensions among the Riffians. This was caused by the replacement of Riffian officials by new Moroccan officials who behaved feudally.
This eventually culminated in the People’s Revolt of 1958 and 1959.
This revolt was brutally crushed, with the Moroccan authorities not shying away from mass murders, rapes and destruction of crops. These crimes against humanity are the subject of a transcription of a web lecture in the Tarifit, given in 2019 by the Riffian linguist Khalid Bouyaala, edited and translated by the editors of Amazigh Information Center.
In the Riffian Language this rebellion is known by several names such as; Asgwas Iqebban (the year of helmets) or Asgwas n Tfadist (the year of mastic tree) and the Moroccan researcher and historian Zaki M’Barek (1940-2019) calls it the ‘evacuation rebellion’.
The economic situation in the Rif after Moroccan independence was bad. The Rif lived from traditional agriculture and is therefore dependent on rainfall. After 1956 a period of drought started in the Rif which lasted two years. This was already disastrous, on top of that the income from seasonal labor stopped. The independence war of 1954 in Algeria prevented many Riffians from travelling there for a living.
The Algerian resistance against France, which had occupied the country since 1830, also deepened the economic crisis in the Rif.
As mentioned earlier, the Moroccan government replaced the colonial officials. However, these ‘Moroccan’ officials were poorly informed about the situation in the Rif. For example, they had not realized that the Riffians did not speak Arabic and/or French, but their own language and/or, if they were better educated, Spanish, because this was used by the colonial rulers present at the time and they were suddenly sidelined.
In addition, these officials behaved arrogantly towards the Rif people. It could be that a man went with his mother, wife, sister or daughter to a town hall for an administrative act, then it was demanded of him (often in a language incomprehensible to him) that the women had to take their headscarves off. In the Rif this is interpreted as provocation.
Another problem is that the Spanish money the Peseta was replaced by the French currency the Franc, as a result of which the Spanish money available to the Rif was suddenly worthless.
Moreover, the Moroccans imposed taxes on the Riffians, for example those who have fertile trees such as fig trees counted them and taxes were charged on them, the same goes for animals such as sheep and cows.
So because of all this, there was no longer any prospect of life for the Riffians in their own country and they rebelled against Moroccan officials, claiming their rights.
But not only the economic situation forced the Riffians to revolt. The political situation also led to the protests and resistance.
At that time the Istiqlal, of Ahmed Balafrej, Allal al Fassi and Mehdi Ben Barka was the largest party. This party pursued a one-party system, as in Tunisia. But at that time several political actors were active. Such as the party of Choura & Istqlal, of the palace itself, the liberation army ALN, France, Spain and Mohammed Abdelkrim el Khattabi.
This was the time of the negotiations with France on the ‘independence of Morocco’. It was also the time when the ALN, led by Abbas Messaadi (1925-1956), fought an armed struggle against the occupiers of the Reef just after these negotiations began. The ALN was allied with the Riffian president in exile Mohammed Abdelkrim el Khattabi. He declared that the fight against colonization in North Africa will continue until all soldiers of the occupiers have left the Maghreb countries.
This worried the French rulers because they feared that with Morocco’s independence, the ALN would continue its armed struggle in Algeria, as they were striving for a completely independent Maghreb.
It was for this reason that the Sultan of Morocco, Mohammed V (1909-1961), informed France that he controlled the ALN. In addition, the Istiqlal party wanted to include the ALN in his party in order to encapsulate ALN’s power.
The leader of ALN, Abbas Messaadi, was murdered on July 27, 1956, according to the royal palace he was killed by order of Mehdi Ben Barka (1920-1965). A proposal was made to the ALN: integrate in the Moroccan army FAR, or join the resistance against the Spanish troops in southern Morocco, or fight against French troops in Algeria. Approximately 5,000 ALN fighters joined FAR, and some of them joined the resistance in southern Morocco. They were destroyed in a joint Spanish and French military operation called Ouragan / Écouvillon.
The sultan felt threatened by the ALN and by the Istiqlal party. The latter got too much power. And so the idea arose to play the two off against each other. First, in order to create balance in the political arena, a new political party was founded: the Mouvement Populaire (MP) he left the execution to a former officer of the French army Mahjoubi Aherdan (1921-2020) and the doctor Abdelkrim al Khatib (1921-2008). These two figures decided to respond to the feelings of the Riffians, who were in a hopeless situation. They took the initiative to reburial Abbas Messaadi, who was buried in Fes, in 1958 in his native soil, in Ajdir (Izennayen), but he originally came from Ayt Atta.
The ruling Istiqlal party opposed this reburial. The anger focused on the Moroccan government who wanted to prevent the reburial of their resistance hero. Of course, the action of Mahjoubi Aherdan and Abdelkrim al Khatib was not born out of love for the Riffs, they wanted to create a split between their two opponents and they succeeded. The Riffians set fire to the offices of Istiqlal, with which the action of the agitators Mahjoubi Aherdan and Abdelkrim al Khatib had succeeded.
With that the rebellion in the Rif is a fact. The crisis in the Rif has been seized by others to pursue their political goals. After the release of Mohammed Mmis n Rhaj Sellam Amezian (1925-1995) from prison, he was visited by Riffians who complained about the crisis, the tyranny of the Istiqlal party and asked him for advice.
He declared that he did everything in his power to prevent them from engaging in armed combat because they did not have any weapons at their disposal; this crisis had to be resolved with common sense.
To this end, a committee was set up to conduct the negotiations. This committee consisted of: Mohammed Mmis n Rhaj Sellam Amezian, an uncle of his Muhand Amezian, son of Abdelkrim Khattabi, Rachid Khattabi and a few resistance fighters who fought together with Abdelkrim against the occupiers. And there is a set of demands, the son of Mohammed Mmis n Rhaj Sellam Amezian speaks about 17 demands, while the anthropologist David Montgomery Hart (1927-2001) speaks about 18 demands.
For example, they demanded that all foreign armies should leave the Reef, Abdelkrim el Khattabi should return to the Rif. All political parties had to be disbanded in order to form a national government, release all prisoners and accelerate the Arabization. Mohammed Mmis n Rhaj Sellam Amezian says that they were received by King Mohammed V who promised to meet the demands. He even says that a few demands have actually been met. According to the son of Mohammed Mmis n Rhaj Sellam Amezian, Ben Barka changed the king’s mind. He told him that the Riffians were looking for independence. At the same time, the Riffians sent all Moroccan officials out of the Rif.
Sellam Amezian’s uncle, Muhand Amezian, told him that for six months no Moroccan soldier was seen in the Rif, but other sources speak of 3 months. The Moroccan government was under the assumption that if they weren’t present on the Rif, the Rifs would get into conflict with each other, but the opposite happened. It surprised the government that it stayed so quiet in the Rif, that the people didn’t kill each other and that the Riffians governed themselves. That made them so worried that it was decided to intervene in the Rif with a large military force.
The New York Times reported on October 28, 1958 that Morocco declared the Rif a military area, namely the triangle Al Hoceima, Nador and Aknoul, because the Rif people protested against repression and the treatment by Moroccan officials in the Rif.
On 18 November 1958, the army held a military parade in Tétouan. The New York Times of 17 November 1958 writes that “the King chose Tétouan as the venue for the annual military parade” originally planned in the southern city of Marrakech. The parade of almost half of the armed forces would not just be a simple display of power. The parade was considered as an excuse to bring the army discreetly to the north of Morocco”.
More than three-quarters of the FAR’s troops were sent to the Rif. The head of this large army was Crown Prince Hassan (1929-1999) who held the position of chief of staff of the army. His younger brother Abdellah Al Alaoui (1935-1983) also went to Rif at that time to see the ‘show’ up close.
Then there was a terrible massacre: heavy war machines such as tanks and airplanes were used against defenceless people in the Rif. There are reports about the use of napalm bombs. Victims testify to mass rapes of both men and women, the bellies of the pregnant Rif women were ripped open by Moroccan soldiers who gambled on whether the fetus was a boy or a girl, the harvest was stolen or set on fire.
The Al Hoceima region was declared a military area at that time by a decree, which is still in force today. According to academics, the number of victims is between 8 and 10 thousand dead, activists speak of more than 20,000 dead.
Before the military actions in the Rif were started, a government was formed from members of the Istiqlal party, as a kind of reparation for the fact that their offices in the Rif were set on fire.
The Istiqlal was the instrument and the palace is the principal. This was evident from a speech by King Hassan II in January 1984, in which he called upon the Reefs who do not yet know Hassan II to re-read history and pay special attention to what Prince Hassan did in the Rif in 1958/59, in other words: “I punished the Riffians in 1958/1959 and if you reclaim your rights I will do the same again”.
Abdelkrim el Khattabi asked King Mohammed V, during a visit in 1960, what the Moroccan army did to the Rif. Muhammad V answered that the Riffians shouldn’t have rebelled against their king. Abdelkrim replied that this was not the case, the Rif had rebelled against the Spanish and French occupying armies in the Rif. To which Mohammed V added “I promise you that within three years from now, there will be no more foreign soldiers in the Rif.
There is evidence to the contrary, for example that Abdelkrim el Khattabi sent a letter to Mohamed Hassan Ouazzani (1910-1978) on July 27, 1960, in which he states that planes with French pilots, at that time Morocco had not yet attacked war planes, villages and markets in the Rif, in this letter Abdelkrim el Khattabi details how many people were abducted, how many women were murdered and other information about the victims of Moroccan military operations in the Rif.
Mahjoubi Aherdan denies the repression against the Riffians and speaks of restoring order in the Rif. But a few weeks before the uprising, he declares to the AFP that Morocco’s independence is due to the Riffians, which is ambiguous to say the least.
The winners of this rebellion are France and the royal palace, the Riffians paid for it with their blood, the Istiqlal also came out as a loser although it played a dubious role.
The first battle the Moroccan army fought was against the Rif. At that time, the palace and the Istiqlal planned to build a highway they called unity, a road that would unite the Rif with Morocco. If Morocco and the Rif were one, why did this road get this name?
Muhend, an uncle of Sellam Amezian, says that when Spain handed over the Rif to Morocco, the autonomy of the Rif under Spanish administration was discussed, and this is logical for a country that is occupied.
There are issues that still need to be investigated such as: what did the elite mean for Abdelkrim el Khattabi? And why did he only send weapons to the Rif?
With Morocco’s independence in 1956, the Moroccan colonization of the Rif began.
1) Mustafa Aarab, De vergeten geschiedenis van het Marokkaanse Rif (2009) [NL]
2) Germain Ayache, La guerre du Rif (1981) [FR]
3) Vincent Courcelle-Labrousse, La guerre du Rif (2008) [FR]
4) Ignace Dalle, Les trois rois: la monarchie marocaine, de l’indépendance à nos jours (2004) [FR]
5) La mémoire d’un roi. Hassan II, (entretiens avec Eric Laurent) (1993) [FR]
6) Remy Leveau, Le Fellah marocain: défenseur du trône (1985) [FR]
7) Maâti Monjib, La monarchie marocaine et la lutte pour le pouvoir (1992) [FR]
8) Gilles Perrault, Notre ami le roi (1990) [FR]
9) John Waterbury, Le commandeur des croyants: la monarchie Marocaine et son élite (1975) [FR] / John Waterbury,
The Commander of the Faithful: the Moroccan political elite — a study in segmented politic (1970) [EN]
10) Research of Ahmed Zahid, ‘Intifadat al rif 1958/1959 al dakira wa al tarikh’ (2005) [AR]
For more information on this topic see:
Video Compilation about the Moroccan army [FR/NL]
Testimony of a victim of crimes committed by the Moroccan regime in the Rif [AR/NL]
French army shoots the Riffians with heavy weapons
Testimony of a pilot about bombing of Rif (AR/NL)
Documentary about the revolt of the Rif 1958/1959 [RIF/EN]
King Hassan II speech, January 1984 [AR/NL]
Transtaltion: Najat M.
By Arif Arebda — 4 years ago
We all know someone who has been a victim of real estate fraud. Nice apartment in Al Hoceima, Nador, Tangier or somewhere else for a nice price. Investing in a luxury real estate project with guaranteed profit. Everything looked beautiful on paper.
But then reality turns out to be hell! That nice apartment turns out to be a badly constructed building where the cracks are already in the walls before it’s finished or even worse, there’s not even a pole in the ground. The same goes for the real estate project you have invested in.
Who is responsible? Where to be? Where can you complain? How are you going to get your money back? Who is going to pay for all the travel and lawyer expenses? A lot of misery awaits you and it turns out that beautiful Morocco is a monster.
A group of British citizens, including some of Moroccan descent, have been through the same thing and have been trying for 12 years now to achieve justice in the land of injustice.
Key figure in this nightmare is Larbi Tadlaoui who, as an accomplice of the Moroccan regime, has made a lot of victims with his company for years. Mr. Tadlaoui works for projects launched by the king. In January 2016 he was ‘arrested’ in Morocco and released on 31 May 2017. During his detention, his business partner Mr. Guang Huang continued with the real estate fraud.
Mr. Tadlaoui has been staying in Spain for some time now, presumably near Marbella, and in the meantime his victims are still facing against a wall of injustice.
Their advice is to everyone:
DON’T INVEST A PENNY IN MOROCCO!
Below is a short summary of their story with below the link to their website for more information about their situation.
“In 2006, the Moroccan government gave land to the development company Atlantic Beach Paradise Resort SARL for the construction of an 18-hole Steve Ritson design golf course, swimming pools and about 400 attractive apartments and villas (a project of 45 million pounds). The property is located between Asilah (a beautiful Moorish town) and Tangier overlooking the beach.
The development has been promoted in numerous marketing brochures/websites as part of ‘Vision 2010’ – the project of King Mohammed VI – which would bring thousands of new tourists to Morocco. Off-plan properties were bought by up to 800 investors from different countries.”