occupation forces sweep Dakhla after several days of protests

Yesterday, the occupying forces violently burst into the occupied city of Dakhla, attacking the participants in the demonstrations that have taken place in recent days over the disappearance of Lahbib Aghrichi, a Sahrawi.

These demonstrations, peaceful and well organized, saw an increase in the number of participants from February 7, reaching more than a thousand, until the 21, the police, auxiliary forces and paramilitaries attacked, brutally assaulting people gathered with beatings and arrests, breaking Sahrawi car windows, creating terror. Gunshots were heard. They created raids to search for individual Sahrawis, attacking houses by knocking on the door, beating the inhabitants, causing destruction and blocking Sahrawi neighborhoods. They needed reinforcements from other towns in the occupied areas.

The Saharawi activist Rachid Esghayer, a former prisoner of the Salé 7 group, was arrested. During one of the demonstrations, he raised his voice to denounce corruption in Dakhla, organized from Rabat, Tangier and Casablanca. He revealed the danger of extermination in which the Sahrawis live, pushed into ghettos, displaced by Moroccan settlers. He also denounced police practices against Sahrawis, such as sexual abuse of Sahrawi women during arrests.

The origin of these demonstrations lies in the disappearance of the Saharawi trader, Lahbib Aghrichi, on the 7th. After a week of demonstrations, the police reported finding a bag containing his charred remains, of which only bones and teeth remained. They said they conducted a DNA test, which they claimed to be Lahbib Aghrichi.

Protesters demanded justice for Lahbib and the circumstances of his disappearance. They called for an end to police corruption. They chanted slogans on the disappearance of Lahbib “rest in peace, we will continue the fight” and also political slogans calling on the occupation authorities to stop the crime of colonization and asking the Saharawi people for more unity and cohesion to face what they called “slow genocide”. ”. “One, one, one, one, the Saharawi people united”.

The family intervened with great force, outraged by police corruption: they asked how a person the police said they were watching, the Moroccan Aataoui, had ended up tortured and dead. And how could the police say he killed himself. And why did the police blame him for Lahbib’s death. They demanded the identity of the person shown in a video driving Lahbib Aghrichi’s car. They demanded justice and held the occupation authorities responsible for the disappearance of their son.

Naama Aghrichi, Lahbib’s brother, wondered if when he saw the police burning something, it was not his brother’s body.

On the one hand, the police promised to hand over the charred remains to the Aghrichi family within 24 hours, a promise they did not keep. The family requested an independent autopsy in the Canary Islands, Europe. The death certificate given to the family by the authorities bears no official stamp or signature, which casts doubt on its authenticity.

Esghayer claims to echo the sentiments of Sahrawis who do not believe the governor saying he will investigate until the final consequences.

In addition to the activist Esghayer, two brothers of Lahbib Aghrichi are in detention. For the moment, there is confirmation of four other Sahrawis in detention.

Michael A. Bynum