9 detained, threats of jail if demonstrating against EU fisheries
A peaceful protest by Saharawi fishermen in the El Aaiun harbour this week was broken up by the Moroccan police. Nine fishermen were taken to the police station for hours of questioning, and threatened with harder punishment if they were ever to protest the EU fisheries again.
The protest kicked off at 11:30 am, on Tuesday 11 March, in the harbour of El Marsa, a coastal town located at 25 kilometres southwest of El Aaiun.
The Saharawi fishermen had gathered here to peacefully demonstrate against Morocco’s systematic social and economic exclusion of Saharawis in the occupied territory, and the ongoing exploitation of Western Sahara’s territorial waters which does not benefit the Saharawis.
The protesters carried banners with slogans such as “Where are the Saharawis in the fisheries agreement”, referring to the European Union’s Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Morocco, adopted by the European Parliament in December 2013.
The Moroccan police intervened just a few minutes into the demonstration, and confiscated the banners and yellow shirts worn by the fishermen. Both slogans and shirts were torn to pieces by the police.
Nine protesters were arrested and taken to the police station in El Aaiun for questioning. While threatening the protesters with fabricating charges against them, the police questioned them for 6 hours, regarding the protesters’ personal information, their reasons for demonstrating, their means of coordinating with eachother, and their connection and coordination with third parties.
The protesters were released in the evening, and told that they would be thrown in prison if they would ever organise or participate in other protests.
The EU considers to pay Morocco to fish in occupied Western Sahara. An EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement from 2013 would be both politically controversial and in violation of international law.
The international Fish Elsewhere! campaign demands the EU to avoid such unethical operations, and go fishing somewhere else. No fishing in Western Sahara should take place until the conflict is solved.