Youssef Bougharioune, a prominent student and a Saharawi activist, was arrested by the Moroccan police on Tuesday 15th December 2020, at 7 p.m. in El Aayun. He was freed on Saturday 19, in Agadir.
The detention was made without respecting the most elementary human rights. He was not read the charges against him, and his family didn’t receive information of his whereabouts. When in custody in el Aaiun, he was beaten, insulted and threatened.
The next day at 7,30 a.m. he was put in a car and taken to Agadir at a speed of 180 km per hour, with high risk for his life. The behaviour of the police was inacceptable. In a break between the cities of El Aaiun and Tan Tan the police agent told him : “you are Polisario, you don’t have the right to live, you’re a fly”.
In Agadir, he was interrogated but he didn’t receive bad treatments. Anyway, neither his family nor his lawyer could visit him in detention. Finally, he was released in Agadir proper. The trial will take place on January 21, 2021.
The alleged charges against him are:
– Belonging to a gang
– Kidnapping a women
– Beating and hurting someone non identified.
The police brought a witness who, oddly enough, denied any relationship with Youssef.
Youssef is a student at Mohamed V University in Rabat, very involved in student activism against Moroccan illegal occupation of Western Sahara. He collaborates with Human Rights organizations.
His brother Saleh, a political activist and refugee claimant in France, told Équipe Média that “the arrest was another attempt to put Saharawi student activists in a corner and silence the voices of individual activists exposing human rights violations committed by Morocco”.
Tone Sørfonn Moe, researcher on human rights issues and jurist, expressed her serious concern over the recent arrest of Youssef who she described as very active in the student movement in Rabat and known for his advocacy in favour of the right to self-determination and of the release of Saharawi political prisoners – including the case of the Student Group.
In occupied Western Sahara, but also in Morocco proper, to advocate in favor of the right to self-determination or even to mention Western Sahara or to say that you are a Saharawi (not Moroccan) is criminalized by law and can land you in prison.
Équipe Média, December 19, 2020
El Aaiun, Western Sahara occupied