Association of Families & Friends of Victims of Gdeim Izik Camp Informs UNSG of latest Developments

Founder Editor Tazeen Akhtar..

Special Report -The Association of the coordinators of Gdim Izik victims’ families and friends  which was founded on the occasion of the Human Rights Day, on 10 December 2016,  sent on April 2017, a letter to the United Nations Secretary General, His Excellency Antonio Guterres, to inform him of the latest developments of Gdeim Izik trial.

Historical context:

More than six years before, The Gdeim Izik was a protest camp in Moroccan Sahara, on October 9, 2010 and lasting into November that year, with related incidents occurring in the aftermath of its dismantlement on November 8. While protests were initially peaceful and in the purpose of purely socio-economic reasons and claims of inhabitants, they will be used meanwhile by the opponents of the territorial integrity of Morocco maliciously and with perfidy, they were later marked by clashes between protesters and Moroccan security forces. The dismantlement of the Gdeim Izik camp and the protests resulted in 11 deaths and 159 wounded among the Moroccan security forces and 2 civilian deaths among protesters.

The suspects involved in these dramatic criminal events were brought before the permanent military court which, after deliberation, rendered its verdicts in a 2013, however, three years later, The Moroccan Court of Cassation had annulled the verdict handed down against 25 defendants.

The trial was referred by the Military Court of Rabat to the Court of Appeals of salé, adding that this deferral "was an opportunity to make our voices heard and to fully assert our rights."

However, the letter of the association of Families & Friends of Victims of Gdeim Izik Camp to the Secretary General, added, "we were astonished by the maneuvers of the defense to drop our right to civil suit."

"Our suit does not seek financial compensation, but the establishment of the truth and the application of the conditions of a fair trial," the source pointed out.

"It is noteworthy that we did not enjoy such a right before the military court. We consider that in conformity with the International  Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Moroccan constitution and the Criminal Procedure Code, it is our right to enjoy this right," the letter said.

"Defendants have repeatedly refused to answer our questions, put through our lawyers concerning the crimes and acts of murder and mutilation perpetrated against our relatives," the source added, noting that "this refusal proves their responsibility in the acts for which they are being prosecuted.»

The letter noted "how some lawyers of the defendants have tried to confer a political nature to this trial and have claimed that the defendants are political prisoners," adding that "defendants rejected to answer before the court the questions regarding the crimes that they are accused of, and made, instead, political answers unrelated to the charges, in order to gain a political status."

"This status is not the object of the case as the defendants are not being prosecuted for their opinions or political positions," the letter noted, adding that "as noted in the indictment, they are accused of acts of violence against our sons  causing premeditated murder, mutilation of their bodies and complicity in these crimes.", the association said.

"This is a bid to infringe upon our rights and to settle their political accounts with the Moroccan State through this case. We do not accept this and we consider it a serious violation of the right to a fair trial and an action disrespectful to the memory of our relatives," continues the association.

"While defendants allege that they have been tortured, the declarations of most of them before the investigative judge took place in the presence of their lawyers and were recorded in the minutes, which do not mention torture at all…’’

"We feel that we are the victims of a double injustice, first because of the loss of our children in this tragedy, and second because the international community has not assumed its responsibility before the mothers, fathers, wives and children who have lost their beloved ones before the eyes of the world, without any significant action taken by the international community, despite the fact that the right that was mainly violated is the right to life," the letter said.

‘’The families and friends of victims of Gdeim Izik Camp requested a meeting with the UN Chief to tell him about their suffering as indirect victims of these events…’’

"Mr. Christopher Ross, your special envoy, has already met with us and has committed himself to follow up on the case and its developments. Unfortunately, he has not met his commitments. We also wrote a letter to the former Secretary General of the United Nations, His Excellency M. Ban Ki-moon, but in vain," has observed the Association of the coordinators of Gdim Izik victims’ families and friends in its letter to to the United Nations Secretary General, HE. Antonio Guterres.''