Political activist and member of the Moroccan Human Rights Association (AMDH) and of Shabaka, a network of NGOs from northern Morocco. She is also a member of “Democratic Way” and “February 20 Movement”, political groups that propose political and constitutional reforms in Morocco. Wafae explains that the “February 20 Movement” was the result of repression, marginalisation and exploitation of the Moroccan state by its people, who took to the streets to claim their rights under the slogan “dignity, freedom and social justice”. While the government has not met these demands, many people have lost their fear of speaking up for a democratic society, but have suffered repression. Wafae struggles mostly for labor rights, and in 2014, while participating in a peaceful demonstration by the Tangier Workers’ Confederation, she was kidnapped, assaulted and threatened. After informing the prosecutor’s office, the Moroccan police accused her of false allegations, arrested her, sent her to a psychiatric hospital and sentenced her to one year in prison for “slander” against the police.
Wafae Charaf was released in July 2016. Read the news here: http://wp.me/p3pYl7-g3
What is the situation in Moroccan prisons?
The arrest gave me the opportunity to find out what’s going on. It is surprising that the Moroccan State has spoken of prisons as institutions of rehabilitation, integration and the absence of torture. The reality is quite the opposite: torture, marginalisation, exclusion and discrimination. Every day, prisoners are subject to maximum sanctions. On many occasions, I intervened both in condemning the events and in helping prisoners to send complaints to the authorities and human rights organisations.
How was your time in jail?
I have had time to read, write a diary and write texts by the poet Shawqi to my family and my husband, and at the same time to fight with my colleagues. I intended to publish what I have written in e-mails and books, but economic and social conditions have prevented me from doing so. I still have the idea in mind, and I am urged to do so, but I hope to have some economic and family stability.
You have been actively involved in the M20F. How do you assess the evolution?
The emergence of the M20F resulted from the accumulation of activist efforts in many areas linked to class struggle in Morocco. It was also a consequence of the repression, marginalisation and exploitation practised by the Moroccan regime against its people.
In the context of the Arab Spring, the Moroccan people demonstrated in more than 52 towns and cities claiming civil and political, economic and social rights, under the slogan “Dignity, freedom and social justice”. The state has tried to circumvent these demands and to deactivate the movement by offering promises and reforms. However, the M20F has achieved objectives that the democratic forces in the country had not been able to achieve. He has been able to break the wall of fear, the result of years of embers and bullets from the reign of Hassan II, and spread the culture of protest among all social groups.
You are a member of the AMDH, an organisation harassed by the Moroccan state, according to Front Line Defenders.
I have been an AMDH activist for seven years. Within this organisation, like thousands of militants, I have learned the alphabet of the fight for human rights and dignity in Morocco and elsewhere. The government continues to attack the AMDH, imposing restrictions and harsh measures against the organization and its members. However, the efforts and perseverance of the activists increase the strength of the fight against human rights enemies.