31, October 2016
Moroccans have staged protest rallies across the North African country after a fisherman was crushed to death in a garbage truck while trying to take back fish seized by police. On Sunday, thousands of outraged people marched on the streets of several cities, including the northern town of Hoceima in the country’s Rif region where the fishmonger lost his life on Friday.
According to local media and authorities, the street vendor, Mouhcine Fikri, jumped inside the trash truck that police used to destroy the confiscated fish in a desperate attempt to recover it when he was caught inside the crusher. Fikri, 31, was selling sword fish, which is not allowed to be fished during this time of the season.
Protesters blamed the police for the gruesome death and demanded an end to what they termed official abuse and injustice. Sunday’s rallies were called by activists from the February 20 movement, which organized demonstrations during the Arab Spring-style protests in 2011. Arab Spring refers to a series of uprisings and revolutions that started across the Middle East and North Africa in 2011 against unemployment, inflation as well as corruption, among other issues.
Fikri’s body was laid to rest in the area of Imzouren some 20 kilometers southeast of Hoceima in a huge funeral procession late Sunday afternoon.
“I have never seen such a crowd in the last few years, since 2011 at least,” said Houssin Lmrabet, an activist from the town of Imzouren, where thousands took part in the funeral of the victim and protests that followed. “Everyone feels crushed by that garbage truck.”
In an effort to calm tensions, Moroccan King Mohamed VI, currently on a tour of Africa, ordered Interior Minister Mohammed Hassad to visit the victim’s family and to ensure a “meticulous” investigation. Hassad denounced the incident and vowed that an investigation would be held to “determine the exact circumstances of the tragedy and punish those responsible.”
“No one had the right to treat him like this…. We cannot accept officials acting in haste, anger or in conditions that do not respect people’s rights,” Hassad said. The Moroccan Human Rights Association also censured the “heinous” incident and recalled another incident in Hoceima, in which five youths died during 2011 protests of the February 20th Movement. That movement emerged amid the Arab Spring uprisings that began in Tunisia when vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire after police confiscated his wares.