Morocco: Arrest of two young protest leaders in Jerada

Two young leaders of the social protest which agitates since the end of December the old mining town of Jerada (northeast), were arrested Saturday and were still in detention Sunday, one learned from their relatives.

The two men are Amine Mkallech and Mustapha Dainane, according to the same source.

The arrest of Mustapha Dainane is linked to “a traffic accident caused March 8 at 1:00 am” and “has nothing to do with the events in the city of Jerada,” said a statement from the prosecutor general of Oujda (north-east) without mentioning the case of his comrade.

That of Amine Mkallech is also linked to this accident, told AFP Said Zeroual, a local representative of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH).

Very active, the Facebook page of Mustapha Dainane, recognizable with his profile photo representing the Russian revolutionary Lenin, was no longer available Sunday morning.

Other Facebook pages of social movement activists showed images of rallies against these arrests, but the images were no longer viewable Sunday afternoon. “The people want the release of the prisoners,” said one of these pages in their two black and white portraits.

The accidental death of two brothers, trapped in a gallery at the end of December in Jerada, followed by two other deaths in similar conditions, gave rise to peaceful demonstrations to demand “economic alternatives” for this city stricken by the closure of the mines of coal in 1998.

Since then, hundreds of illegal miners have risked their lives in closed mine shafts to extract coal, the sale of which is legal through government-issued mining permits.

An action plan proposed last month by the government, including care for former miners with silicosis and checks in closed wells, had calmed the movement, but protest rallies and calls for a general strike continue punctually, with some judging these measures insufficient.

For the local authorities, this is a “handful of reluctant who have other goals than economic demands”, while the protesters – including Mustapha Dainane and Amine Mkallech – say they represent the demands of the population .

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