News

Rif's massive protest against marginalization / Basque language schools' holiday / Catalan referendum's “last” offer

12 to 18 May

A banner during the 18 may Al Hoceima protest shows a portrait of Rif leader Abd el-Krim. Rif and Amazigh flags can be seen behind.
A banner during the 18 may Al Hoceima protest shows a portrait of Rif leader Abd el-Krim. Rif and Amazigh flags can be seen behind. Author: Omar Radi @ Twitter
WEEKLY ROUNDUP. A massive protest has been held in Morocco's Rif, where a popular movement enjoying wide support is challenging the Moroccan authorities since more than half a year. Rif protesters denounce their territory's marginalization, and demand better socioeconomic conditions. The same week, popular gatherings under the sign of linguistic rights have taken place in Galicia and in the Northern Basque Country —where demands for an official status for Basque have yet once more been heard. At the same time, the Catalan government is getting ready to voice a  “last” offer to the Spanish authorities for an agreed referendum on independence.

NEWS HIGHLIGHT

Al Hoceima sees massive protest against scarcity, marginalization. The streets of the Riffian city, in Morocco's north, witnessed 18 May a thousands-strong demostration. The march was the apex of an ever-growing unrest and periodic protests that started in October 2016, when fish vendor Mohsin Fikri was killed, crushed by a garbage truck. This week's protest was joined by many shop owners, who went on strike —an "unprecedented" show of support, Reuters reporter writes.

Amazigh sources say thousands of Moroccan security forces have been for days controlling Al Hoceima's outskirts. Members of the protest movement argue they do so to control and suffocate the unrest. Water supply in the city is being cut at intervals, the same sources say. Protesters denounce a centuries-long economic marginalization to which, according to them, Rif has been subject by Moroccan authorities. They are demanding better conditions in education, healthcare and job opportunities. The Moroccan government admits demands "must be heard," but at the same time it blames protesters for following "foreign agendas" and for fostering "separatist" sentiments. Nasser Zefzafi, one of the leaders of the movement, believes the mobilization is "uniting Rif" —Riffian and Amazigh flags can be usually seen during protests—, recalls that Rif "receives no equal treatment," and says women —who suffer from high unemployment rates— are one of the "keys" to the protest.

MOREOVER

“Last” offer for an agreed referendum in Catalonia. The Catalan government is preparing itself for a conference by Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, deputy president Oriol Junqueras and Foreign Affairs minister Raül Romeva in Madrid, which is set to become a “last attempt for dialogue and negotiation” to strike a deal with the Spanish authorities on an agreed referendum on independence. If no agreement is reached, La Vanguardia sources claim the vote will unilaterally be called by the Catalan government for 1 October.

Thousands demand “unlimited right to live in Galician. Protesters demonstrated in the streets of Galician capital Santiago 17 May, marking the Galician Literature Day. Pro-Galician language group Mesa pola Normalización Lingüística is collecting signatures for a citizens' initiative that “grant the right to the use of Galician in the socioeconomic sphere.” The demonstration had been called by Queremos Galego umbrella organization.

More than 500 support the Call for Valencian Funding. This alliance of more than 40 civil society groups and left-wing political parties is calling for a new funding system for the Valencian Country that brings an end to a “systematic plundering” at the hands of Spanish authorities. The alliance has called a demonstration, 10 June, in Valencia.

Controversy over name registration of newborn baby in Brittany. Quimper civil registry had initially refused to register a baby called “Fañch” (Francis, in Breton). The registry's official argued that the letter “ñ” is not included in the list of admissible characters for personal names in France. The baby's parents replied that this is a case of “discrimination”. At the end, nevertheless, the Quimper municipality has decided to register the baby as “Fañch”, acknowledging that his parents' freedom of choice should prevail.

Preservation of Kamp Armen makes progress. Istanbul municipality has approved a plan to preserve this Armenian former orphanage. Kamp Armen was the center of a popular mobilization in 2015, that sought to protect it from a plan to demolish it and build apartments. The former orphanage bears great symbolic and historical value for Istanbul's Armenian community.

Thousands gather at Northern Basque Coutry's ‘ikastola’ holiday. Earning from the 34th Herri Urrats celebration will help finance a new Basque medium vocational training centre in Baiona (Bayonne). During the holiday, pro-Basque language groups again demanded an official status for Basque in Northern Basque Country, and recalled new French president Emmanuel Macron his commitment to draft a Law of languages.

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