Dutch politicians denied entry to Moroccan Rif region

Lilianne Ploumen (Photo: Rijksoverheid.nl/Wikimedia Commons)Lilianne Ploumen (Photo: Rijksoverheid.nl/Wikimedia Commons)

PvdA politicians Lilianne Ploumen and Kati Piri are cutting their working visit to Morocco short because they were denied access to the coastal cities of Al Hoceima and Nador. They wanted their presence there to express solitary with the Rif protest movement, but the local authorities banned them from entering, NOS reports.

"Our visit was announced two months ago with the national authorities and last night we suddenly heard that this part of our program can not go through", the two Dutch politicians said to the broadcaster.

Parliamentarian Ploumen and European Parliamentarian Piri talked with parliamentarians and the Minister of Justice during their visit to Morocco. They also attended the trial against Nasser Zafzafi, leader of the Hirak-movement. 

Hirak is a protest movement in which Moroccans living in the Rif region demonstrate for more employment opportunities, better healthcare and education, and action against corruption in their region. Many Dutch-Moroccan people support the Hirak movement on social media. 

The Rif protest movement started in the autumn of 2016, after the death of fish seller Mohsin Fikri. Some thousand protesters have been arrested since May last year. Between 300 and 400 are still in custody, according to the broadcaster.

Piri wants to draw more of Europe's attention to the situation in the Rif region. According to her, this issue mainly gets attention in countries with a relatively large number of Moroccan residents, like the Netherlands, Belgium and France. But other countries hardly know about it.

"We always say that migration should be tackled at the roots. But now in Spain most asylum requests are made by young people from the Rif, who after the crushing of the protests no longer see a future and make the dangerous crossing to Spain." she said to NOS.