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Morocco protest leader Zefzafi on hunger strike against solitary confinement, torture Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Morocco protest leader Zefzafi on hunger strike against solitary confinement, torture

Nasser Zefzafi was handed a 20-year jail term in June [Getty]

Date of publication: 31 August, 2018

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The jailed leader of a Moroccan protest movement began a hunger strike on Thursday to protest against prison conditions, weeks after he was sentenced to 20 years behind bars.

The jailed leader of a Moroccan protest movement began a hunger strike on Thursday to protest against prison conditions, weeks after he was sentenced to 20 years behind bars, his father said.

Nasser Zefzafi was handed a 20-year jail term in June along with three others for "plotting to undermine the security of the state".

"He has begun a hunger strike and will not eat, drink water or ingest sugar until he becomes a martyr," Zefzafi's father, Ahmed, said in a Facebook video, according to news website Hespress.

"He wants to be taken out of solitary confinement and an end to the harassment and torture he has endured since he was imprisoned over a year ago,"

He added that his son was "determined" to stick by the hunger strike until he is granted the "same rights" as other jailed protesters.

Zefzafi led the Hirak al-Shaabi (Popular Movement) protest movement in the marginalised Rif region of north of Morocco in 2016 and 2017.

There was no immediate comment from the authorities at Oukacha prison in Casablanca where Zefzafi is incarcerated.

The 2016 protests began when fisherman Mouhcine Fikri was crushed to death in a rubbish truck, while he was apparently trying to retrieve swordfish seized by authorities as it was caught out of season.

Subsequent unrest in the Rif region, where the marginalised Berber ethnic group is the majority, focused on social issues as demonstrators demanded jobs and development.

Hundreds of people were arrested in connection with the protests but King Mohamed VI has since pardoned nearly 190 of them.

Zefzafi was arrested in May 2017.

In June, he was among 53 Hirak members sentenced by a Casablanca court - most of whom were given jail terms of one to five years.

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