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Moha Tawja

(Mohamed EdDaoudyy)
International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

Mohamed Ed-Daoudy (better known as Moha Tawja), an indigenous rights defender from Imider, is featured in Front Line Defenders 2016 campaign calling for the protection of indigenous rights defenders.

If we had independent studies that can prove the effect of the mine on Imider, I don’t think we would need to protest.

Moha Tawja / Mohamed EdDaoudyy

Mohamed Ed-Daoudy (better known as Moha Tawja) is an indigenous rights defender from Imider, a remote village in south west Morocco. Most people in Imider are Amazighs (Berbers), an ethnic group that since Morocco’s independence has been struggling for the recognition of their social and cultural rights. Moha is one of the leading members of “Movement on the Road ‘96”, a social movement against a silver mine  wned by the Moroccan royal family  hat was draining the water reserve of Imider. In 2011, Moha and the other Imider residents set up a protest camp around a key water valve, to prevent the mine from decimating their water supply. Since the beginning of the protest, they have suffered threats, intimidations, arbitrary arrests and lawsuits brought by the mining company. Dozens of people have been arrested, and families of human rights defenders have been threatened in an attempt to stop the movement.

HRD in Imider, Morocco. Credit: Lorena Cotza

In response to the February 2011 pro-reform protests in Morocco, inspired by sister movements in Egypt and Tunisia, King Mohammed VI promised reform, including the “strengthening of human rights in all their dimensions, political, economic, social, cultural, environmental, and developmental”. The new constitution, which was voted in by the country’s electorate in July 2011, prohibited torture and ill treatment, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances, guaranteed greater equality for women and introduced other positive legal reforms.

While these developments have been positive, difficulties remain for human rights defenders. Journalists and media workers critical of the government face harassment and arrest in some instances, and the country's press law includes prison terms for “maliciously” spreading “false information”. There are reports of torture and ill-treatment of human rights defenders in detention and activists held have been incommunicado.