Paris, France: August 4th, 2023 Interviewer Mohamed Brahim
Q: * Recently, a statement was issued by the European Parliament on the involvement of France and Morocco in your case. What is the context of this statement? Will he lobby for your cause?
A : First of all, we would like to thank MEP Miguel Urbán Crespo who has been following our situation closely and has been supporting us for several months in our fight for justice and truth. He is at the origin of this salutary initiative.
We would also like to pay tribute to the other 10 MEPs representing six countries (Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, and Turkey) who have signed this manifesto of support and warning about our case. The context is simple: we have been suffering relentless persecution from the French state for two years, which compromises French, European, and international law with the sole aim of satisfying the Moroccan regime.
Our rights as political refugees and even as simple human beings were withdrawn for the sole purpose of silencing us. For more detail on our situation, we invite all readers to read the declaration of the European Parliamentarians here : https://urlz.fr/n2I3
To better understand our history, here is an investigation into some of the persecution we have suffered since we have been in France : https://urlz.fr/n3hm
Of course, we hope that this will help ensure that justice will prevail and that our rights will be finally respected.
Q : * As defenders of human rights and democracy and as Moroccan and African journalists, what was your experience in France?
From a personal point of view, we are currently living through the worst years of our existence. We never thought we would one day suffer such humiliation, violence, and injustice, especially from a country that calls itself democratic and is a member of the European Union.
As rights defenders, we see that human rights in France are only respected for a certain category of the population.
You must be in a well-defined box for your rights to be taken into consideration, It is possible that some of your rights will be taken away from you, and you will become an outcast. Our experience, is the most flagrant proof. We do not feel that there is a real separation of power in France, and this is not a good sign of democratic health.
As journalists, in France, we have never had a problem expressing ourselves on such and such a subject, but as said before,
if you go outside the framework, you can easily be ostracized from society. To deal with the subject of Morocco the way we do, that is to say not to silence the truth about the Moroccan despotic regime, is not well seen, it closes all doors to you. It's a sneaky form of censorship, you can express yourself, but you're doomed to social and media death.
Q; why the French media do not cover your story despite the importance of your case ?
The whole world and the major newspapers have been interested in our case for two years, except the French press, which, for most of the media outlets, perhaps needs the large subsidy and funds from the state to take the risk of dealing with a case that would compromise certain French and Moroccan Interests, even if in our case, the censorship is too flagrant for it to be a simple case of subsidy.
We had the support of certain major media pitlets when we arrived in France, but since then the affair has worsened with the disclosure of confidential and official state documents concerning us which prove the involvement of high officials and institutions of the French state in our persecution and the involvement of certain powerful lobbies in France close to the Moroccan regime, (check out some of these documents here:( https://vu.fr/Pfkuh ) . French journalists and Medias suddenly seem to have all become deaf, dumb and blind.
Q : What is the level of press independence in France ?
A- In terms of the independence of the press in France, I think we are not far from level zero. Certain sensitive subjects, such as this immoral and dangerous relationship between Morocco and France, seem to be taboo subjects and very little discussed. On the other hand, we see some media giving place to guests praising the Moroccan regime and making propaganda in favor of this theocracy. The editorial staff does not seem totally free.
This problem certainly comes from : the presence of many powerful lobbyists in France seemingly terrorizing certain journalists, from the hand of the state, which is never far away, and of course from certain directives imposed by the few billionaires who have the main control over the majority of media in France.
Q ; Are you safe in France ?
A- We are absolutely not safe in France. Moroccan agents roam the territory as they see fit, and the French state has clearly shown us that it will not protect us. We are very often followed when we go out, in addition to other intimidation, and have neither the right to protection nor to justice despite our international refugee status granted by the UN (UNHCR). Remember that we have no right to justice and that all our complaints are rejected within 24–48 hours, even the most violent death threats despite the fact that we provide the identities and addresses of the persons concerned.
We hope to put an end to this situation as soon as possible before being assassinated like the famous Moroccan dissident Mehdi ben Barka . We are harassed by the same powers that got the better of him.
Q: What is your situation today? What role for organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International as well as associations and organizations in France ?
A- Our current situation is hellish. We are in permanent danger. France leaves us on its territory without having the right to do anything: neither work, nor housing, nor the right to justice, etc. We are in a jungle facing the danger that we must face alone with our bare hands.
Very few associations in France intervened on our behalf, there was the ASDHOM which published a very strong press release, and Human Rights Watch, which wrote a non-public letter of support during the processing of our asylum file. Otherwise, we have the impression that the majority of NGOs do not want to do anything when it comes to a European country like France.
Nothing is possible in this case, they become blind. If a case of injustice, cruelty, and non-compliance with the law comes from a country like France, as in our case, be sure that no one will testify in your favor despite the evidence. When it comes to southern countries, most associations or NGOs have a field day, but when it comes to France, there is generally no one left. in Any way, in our case, we didn't get the support we deserved.
I imagine the same persecution made by an African country against journalists, all the NGOs would condemn these abuses with one voice. This shows the limits of democracy in France and partly explains the current loss of confidence vis-a-vis the African population. Some NGOs give the impression of serving the interests of certain States rather than the principles they claim to defend.
Q : What is the human rights situation in Morocco and Western Sahara? How do you assess the press and human rights situation?
A- Regarding the human rights situation in Morocco and Western Sahara, it is catastrophic. We have a regime in place that imprisons in masse any dissenting voice, whether Moroccan or Sahrawi. Prison sentences for political prisoners are inhumane, for example, Naâma Asfari, a Sahrawi activist, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his activism, and Nasser Zefzafi to 20 years in prison for calling for the construction of hospitals.
A few days ago, a person by the name of Said Boukioud was jailed for five years in prison for criticizing Morocco's normalization with Israel on Facebook. The Moroccan regime wants to set examples to terrorize the population.
No journalist dares to speak out, so imagine the case of ordinary Moroccans. At the time of Hassan 2, only the King was a forbidden and sacred subject, criticizing him could bring you the worst. Now, with the new King Mohamed 6, most of the important people in the state have become sacred, and there is no more criticism. The only one who can really be criticized with less risk is the puppet of the monarchy, the prime minister, who is placed by the regime to serve as a punching bag for the people and journalists.
Many cases of torture and bottle rape are to be counted in prisons, a very popular technique in Moroccan jails consists of raping prisoners with a glass bottle. The regime no longer supports any criticism, even from anyone belonging to their camp. We have a very concrete example with the former Minister of Human Rights, Mohammed Ziane who was imprisoned at the age of 80 for a three-year sentence for having criticized the political police. He has now bee described in history as the oldest political prisoner in the world.
We have here a bloodthirsty regime that terrorizes its people, who do not even have the right to complain about their inhuman conditions of survival. Beyond the non-existent freedom of expression in the country, we must speak of the non-existent substantial rights for the citizen, who has fewer rights than a domestic animal in certain countries. Health care is chargeable, no social security, if you fall ill, and you don't have enough to treat yourself, you simply die.
No housing for the poors, and if you don't have money, you will end up in the street begging, Even for the slums, you have to pay, and housing is always too expensive for those who have nothing. The literacy rate is catastrophic, the official figures speak for themselves, more than 32 percent of the Moroccan population cannot read or write. There are many issues mentioned, but the worst of them is child prostitution, which is wreaking havoc in Morocco, obviously nurtured by the misery and the undivided plunder made by the King of Morocco and his family.
Q: Is there a last statement you wish to convey?
A- We pray for and think of all the political prisoners and their families who have sacrificed their lives for a message of truth or fairness. And a thought also goes out to all the Moroccan people who live in an open-air prison because of a bloodthirsty regime that is incapable of empathy and sharing. Let's not forget also the Sahrawi people, who claim their independence and who are demonized by the Moroccan regime and suffer the worst treatment and humiliation for the simple fact of wanting to live with dignity on their land.
Interviewer: MOHAMED BRAHIM
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