Moroccan opposition call for ‘urgent’ Parliamentary meeting regarding situation in Jerada

Morocco Protest
Demonstrators gather to protest for better working conditions in Jerada’s coal mine on 5 January 2018

The city of Jerada in Morocco has been witnessing protests for nearly three months, which have escalated in recent days. Local people are demanding development and job opportunities, Anadolu has reported.

In response, three opposition parties have called for an urgent meeting of the Interior Committee of the House of Representatives — the lower chamber in parliament — regarding the situation in the city. The appeal was made in a letter sent to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Habib El Malki, on Friday by the Federation of the Democratic Left, an opposition coalition that has two out of 395 seats in the House of Representatives, and includes the National Ittihadi Congress Party and the Unified Socialist Party.

Jerada has been witnessing intermittent protests since 22 December, after two brothers died in a coal mine. The issue was still festering in early February when a third person died in another mine.

These protests have escalated during the past few days. Moroccan security forces arrested 9 activists from the Jerada Movement after clashes with protesters in the city on Wednesday, which also resulted in a number of people being injured, 10 of them seriously, of whom two were protesters and eight were security officers.

After the recent events,” said the Federation’s letter, “characterised by the government’s resort to a security approach instead of a social and legal approach to the issue — which guarantees citizens’ rights to education, health, housing and basic needs — the parliamentary team demands an urgent meeting of the Committee.” The letter stressed the need to respond to residents’ demands in Jerada through discussions.

Although the Interior Minister banned the protests in Jerada, on Thursday the Moroccan government announced its “compliance” with the “reasonable” demands of the protesters and pointed out that protests are allowed in the country if they “comply with the law.”

According to local activists, coal miners work in poor conditions and are demanding the development of their city, reducing the “marginalisation” that is felt and providing job opportunities for young people.

On 10 February, Prime Minister Saadeddine Othmani announced the provision of 3,000 hectares (10,000 square metres) for agricultural use by the people of Jerada, including 2,000 hectares for young people.

“Work has started in the industrial area of Jerada,” added Othmani, “which will provide young people with the possibility of setting up small and medium enterprises by encouraging them and providing them with suitable property.”