Wafaa Charaf was arrested and placed in preventative detention on the 9th of Januray 2014 in Tangier. Earlier she had made a formal legal complaint against unknown individuals for kidnapping, sequestering and threats on the 27th of April 2014, after a demonstration in support of labour activists fired by the company Grief after having organised a labour union local.
She declared that she had been sequestered for numerous hours, questioned about her political activities and insulted, before being abandoned on the side of the road twelve kilometres from the centre of Tangier. But between April and July, Wafaa would pass from being a victim to an accused. She would be called on numerous occasions to the police commissariat and harassed with questions. Family and friends would also be held for various hours, while the police failed to make any progress on the identity of those responsible for Wafaa’s kidnapping, nor in finding the car in which she had been held.
On the 11th of August, Wafaa would be condemned to a year in prison, a 1000 Dirhams fine, and 50,000 Dirhams for damages, for “lies and defamation”, in an inequitable legal process, marked by numerous violations of legal procedure, among which the prevention of the presence of the international observer, Michèle Decaster of AFASPA (Association Française d’Amitié et de Solidarité avec les Peuples d’Afrique), arbitrarily held by the police for seven hours during the time of the trial.
Wafaa Charaf is an active militant in various humanitarian, labour and political organisations in Tangier. Aged 27 today, she is a member of the youth section of morocco’s leftist political party, Parti Annahj Addimocratti (The Democratic Way). She was active in the country’s 20th of February movement during the “Arab Spring”, as well as being a member of AMDH (Association Marocaine des Droits Humains). She participated in various gatherings and sit-ins in support of workers of Tangier’s “Free trade Zone”. She is also a member of a support network for subsaharan Africans aspiring to illegally migrate towards europe and who arrive and live in Tangier in precarious economic, sanitary and human conditions, while they wait to cross the Mediterranean.
Wafaa’s arrest in Tangier was not an accident; it is a consequence of the importance of the city located less than 14 kilometres from the european continent. This geographical proximity makes Tanger home to considerable economic activity and exchange with europe, and thus the “Free trade Zone”.
The “Free Trade Zone” is in fact free, in the sense of being exonerated of many fiscal and social legal obligations. The “Tangier Free Zone” confers on investors exceptional advantages and was classified by the Financial Times among the six best such zones in the world and where almost 45,000 persons, mostly women, work in precarious conditions.
Wafaa was therefore kidnapped, incarcerated and then condemned, because she is guilty of solidarity with labour union activists and defending the rights of workers. Wafaa pays the price for her engagement in favour of factory workers’ rights of the “Tangier Free Zone”, and for democracy and the freedom of expression in morocco.
Wafaa’s trial was a political trial. It shows the complicity of the moroccan authorities with large industrial groups who wish to silence the voices of those who would defend the rights of workers. And it occurs in a context marked by the savage repression of activists and of all citizens, lovers of justice and freedom. It reveals the true face of the moroccan regime that many governments in europe and elsewhere endeavour to present as “an exception in the region.” It has to be recognised that it is an exception in the non-respect human rights, the rights of women and labour union rights. (L’humanité 10/09/2014)
Wafaa’s lawyers appealed the decision, only to have the original penalty extended to two years in prison. (Le Figaro 21/10/2014)
On the 8th of July of this year, in protest against the degrading and inhuman conditions in which she and other prisoners find themselves, she engaged in a 48 hour hunger strike. (Solidarité Maroc 09/07/2015)
Wafaa Charaf’s address follows:
PRISON CIVILE DE TANGER
AVENUE MOULAY RACHID