We, Friends of the Rif, are deeply concerned about the current state of the Rif. An economic, social and democratic vacuum has beset the region. Irregular migration by mostly young, male Riffians across the Mediterranean has reached massive numbers.
The popular movement Hirak laid bare how the Rif not only lacks hospitals, a university and jobs, but also suffers from a lack of viable democratic institutions, monetary means and civil society to establish sustainable development of the Rif-region.
The Hirak leaders and activists are arrested and sentenced to up to twenty years in prison. Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without borders and Amnesty International have, among many other NGO’s, documented and condemned: the unjustified arrests, the torture practices and ill-treatment during the interrogations and the political prisoner’s overall stay in various prisons, the illegitimate trials and the inequitable sentences.
The Rif-region is militarized, checkpoints are installed, the right to demonstrate and the right of association have been nullified, press freedom and freedom of speech are grossly impaired by mechanisms of control and retribution.
Repression and corruption stifle every initiative undertaken by the people to effectuate long-term change. The lack of perspective and the absence of hope and trust is pushing the inhabitants to risk their lives in an attempt to flee the rapidly perishing Rif-region.
To effectively halt further destabilization of the Rif-region and curb the irregular migration, external political and humanitarian interventions and carefully directed economic investments are detrimental.
Friends of the Rif is an initiative that stems from the acknowledgement of the need for intervention and investment in the Rif to fill the vacuum, ignite development and offer hope and perspective to the Riffian youth.
Friends of the Rif therefore:
- Calls for the release of all political prisoners and demilitarization of the Rif-region.
- Draws attention to the multiple push-factors for irregular migration from the Rif-region to Europe and seeks to relieve the plight of the Riffian refugees.
- Urges the Netherlands and the European Union to invest much more directly in the economic, democratic and social development of the Rif-region, to closely monitor the spending of development funds granted to the Moroccan state and to demand accountability from Morocco regarding the expenditure of European investment sums.
- Strives to undertake activities to promote dialogue, education and political awareness in the Netherlands and the EU about the situation in the Rif-region.
- Vows to invest in long-term, mutually beneficial alliances with members of Dutch and European civil society in order to stabilize the Rif-region and curb migration.