Reporters Without Borders has issued an urgent appeal to Moroccan authorities to free journalist Mohamed Lamin Haddi. The physical condition of Haddi was of extreme concern, as he is being now force fed after having been on a hunger strike for 78 days. Further, his prison conditions pose a separate source of concern.
Haddi had been sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2013 but had been held in Rabat’s Tiflet prison since November 2010. He was tried by military court along with other Sahrawi activists. He was charged with “violence with intent to kill officials carrying out their duties.” However, an international observer described the trial as a “wretched spectacle,” and said that Haddi had been denied the right to due process.
All Africa reports that Haddi had worked for RASD TV, a channel run by the Polisario Front. The Front had proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic in Western Sahara in 1976. It has disputed Morocco’s control over most of the territory.
Haddi began a hunger strike on January 13 in an attempt to draw attention to the mistreatment he was being subjected to. All Africa reports that he has been force-fed by means of a nasogastric tube since last week. On March 24 he managed to phone his mother and told her that he had lost all sensation in half of his body. All Africa reports that Haddi’s family, having been denied visits by the Moroccan authorities, struggle to get information about him. Haddi’s mother was also reportedly arrested after having tried to visit him at the prison on March 3, having received no news of him for a month.
RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said, “It is time to end the torture and rescue this journalist from the hunger strike he has been following for more than two months and from the oblivion to which he has been consigned by a 30-year-old conflict.” It said that the principle of humanity must prevail over territorial issues.
According to All Africa, Morocco is ranked at 133 out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2020 World Press Freedom Index.
Umm Muhammed Umar