Journalist Souleimane Raissouni has been on hunger strike for 72 days in Oukacha prison in Casablanca, to protest against his pre-trial detention, in isolation, for more than a year for “rape with violence and forcible confinement ” against an individual from the LGBT community . Charges that he has always denied and rejected. Today, Souleimane’s life is in danger, as his family asserts and as he himself asserts in a poignant letter that he dictated to his lawyer from prison, and of which MoroccoLatestNews holds copy.
“Today, Thursday June 17, 2021, I am 71 days away from my battle of empty bowels. And this is something that neither the prison administration nor the public prosecutor doubts, ”wrote the ex-editor of the newspaper. “Akhbar Al Yaoum“, Who wonders, referring to his case, if it is conceivable that a person on hunger strike for 3 months is in good health even though he has lost 35 kg since his arrest, and 18 kg since the start of his strike.
In his letter, the journalist affirms that his right foot has become almost paralyzed, according to the statements of the doctors of the local prison Ain-Sbaa 1 – Oukacha, as well as of the professor Boutayeb of the delegation of the National Council of the rights of the Male (CNDH).
” Professor Boutayeb shocked me in front of the CNDH delegation which visited me on Wednesday June 16, when he said to me: “Unfortunately, you will not find the sensation of your right leg again even if you resume walking afterwards. a long treatment“, He wrote.
Souleimane also wanted to respond to those who see his hunger strike as an act of ” cowardice “Asking them to be” courageous and to stop eating only half the time of his strike“. ” And condemn me at this time to the most severe penalties“, He launched.
” My hunger strike is the most severe form of protest. Only the one who has suffered an immense injustice is able to lead it“, He expressed, wondering if” Mohamed Bouazizi (Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire in December 2010 causing the revolution in Tunisia) was a coward when he set himself on fire?“.
The journalist continues in his letter that he has been impatiently awaiting, since his arrest, the day when he could ” speak in an independent and fair trial ” to expose the ” crime Committed against him. ” I am ready, even eager for the trial by being free. It is my right and I will achieve it. Either before the court of Casablanca, or before the court of God“, Can we read in his letter.
To conclude, the journalist wanted to leave a last word ” not to arouse the sympathy of a judicial or political authority“, But which according to him, perhaps his last word.
” I am the father of a child who has not completed his second year. And if I catch a young man mistreating my son, ‘God forbid,’ I might lose my mind and don’t know what my reaction would be. And in spite of that I say: If I have attacked someone’s modesty or tried or even thought one day to commit such an act, may God reserve the same fate for my son (editor’s note) (…) Goodbye. Or ? I do not know“, Souleimane Raissouni maintained in this letter that he dictated“ at the cost of an enormous effort in view of his fairly critical state of health ”.
IFJ appeals to King Mohammed VI
In a letter sent on June 15 to King Mohammed VI of Morocco, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls for the immediate release of the journalist, whose extremely worrying state of health requires immediate treatment.
“ On behalf of the International Federation of Journalists, the world’s leading organization for the profession, we call for the immediate release of journalist Souleimane Raissouni, whose life is in danger after 67 days of hunger strike », We can read in the letter sent on June 15 to King Mohammed VI by the IFJ, which represents more than 600,000 journalists in 150 countries.
“ Souleimane Raissouni, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Akhbar Al-Yaoum has been in detention since May 22, 2020, and has started a hunger strike more than two months ago to protest his imprisonment. In isolation for over a year, our colleague has lost nearly 40 kilos and is in a state of extreme weakness that could lead to his death. This journalist has the right to a fair trial and to respect for his personal dignity and we implore you, Your Majesty, that everything be done to save his life. », Expressed the IFJ in its letter sent from Brussels and signed by the secretary general of the federation, Anthony Bellanger.
It should be recalled that the journalist Souleimane Raissouni is being prosecuted under the charge of “rape with violence and forcible confinement “. All requests for provisional release on condition of his defense, 12 in total, were rejected by the criminal chamber of the Casablanca Court of Appeal.
Human rights activists and the family of Raissouni, but also the family of Omar Radi accused for another case of ” foreign funding and damage to the internal security of the State ” and of “ rape“, Call for their continued conditional release, since they meet all the criteria to be able to benefit from this measure. But the public prosecutor considered that the placement of Omar Radi in detention, just like the successive refusals of parole were “legal (…) given the heavy burdens weighing on him“.
Since the arrest of the two journalists, the climate in the media in Morocco is even more tense than usual and freedom of expression remains constrained by red lines not to be exceeded for fear of suffering the same fate, say several human rights activists.
Moreover, the families of the two journalists and human rights activists have never ceased to claim that they were imprisoned for their audacity and their critical writing and not for the crimes with which they are accused. Even if there is a crime, the two journalists have the right to be granted parole and a fair trial, they point out.