- For defenders
- How can I help?
Morocco denies shameful beating of woman human rights defender.
I got news that police were breaking up and beating demonstrators. News came that a woman human rights defender had been badly injured and was asked would I like to see her. I went to the hospital with Eric Sottas, where I took this photo, as she lay waiting to be treated. Her name is Soukainajed Ahlou and she is President of the Forum for Sahrawi women. She was quite badly injured- bloodied and bruised. There seem to be some internal injuries according to a scan taken - I am waiting for exact details.
In an extraordinary coincidence, the car carrying Kerry Kennedy passed the demonstration en route to another meeting. Kerry's 17 year old daughter Moriah quickly took photos including the one of the policeman beating Soukainajed Ahlou. In an attempt to stop her, the policeman reached into the car to grab the camera and in doing do hit her on the face.
Today in the media the Morrocans denied the police beat Soukainajed Ahlou but this time we are witnesses with photographic evidence.
There is nothing unusual about this beating. We have spent 2 days listening to the stories of daily humiliation and fear the Sahrawis live under. Beatings are part of what they expect at demonstrations. Human rights defenders have countless cases they have documented and as a result are regarded as an enemy of the state. They are hugely courageous given the total disregard the Moroccan Government show to their legitimate non violent work in accordance with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders - to which Morocco espouses to be a party.