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RSF concerned about the health of a Hirak detainee amid «hunger strike» reports

While prison authorities in Morocco deny that his health is suffering as a result of a hunger strike, international organization Reporters Without Borders calls for the release of Rabii Al Ablak, a Hirak detainee.

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Moroccan citizen-journalist Rabii Al Ablak. / Ph. DR

In an «alarming» tone, Paris-based NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) warned against the condition of Moroccan citizen-journalist Rabii Al Ablak, a Hirak detainee who is serving a five-year sentence for «spreading fake news» and «posing as a journalist».

In a statement released, Tuesday, RSF stated that it «is extremely concerned about the health of Al Ablak (…) who has been on a hunger strike for more than 40 days». The organization, which conducts political advocacy on issues relating to freedom of information and freedom of the press, urged the Moroccan authorities to «release him quickly», stressing that Al Ablak’s «physical condition has worsened dramatically in recent days in his cell in Tangiers Prison No. 2».

Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders’s North Africa desk said that although «prison authorities deny that his health is suffering as a result of a hunger strike», Al Ablak «must be released and given medical care as quickly as possible».

«It is disgraceful and unjust to deny that Rabii Al Ablak’s state of health is terrible», the organization argued in the same statement.

To prison authorities the detainee «never filed an advanced warning of a hunger strike»

Days before the statement of RSF, prison officials released a communiqué in which they rejected reports suggesting that the detainee is on a hunger strike. In their press release, made public Saturday, prison officials revealed that Al Ablak «never filed an advanced warning of a hunger strike and [...] his state of health is normal».

Days later, prison authorities in Tangier released a second communiqué, Tuesday, in which they confirmed what had been denied during the weekend.

Prior to this second communiqué on Al Ablak’s health, several human rights organizations and groups observed a sit-in, Monday, before the parliament in Rabat to denounce the situation of the Hirak detainee and urge the authorities to intervene. Furthermore, the participants chanted slogans demanding the release of Al Ablak and his fellow Hirak detainees.

The situation of the Moroccan citizen-journalist was also denounced by his brother Abdelatif Al Ablak who took to Facebook, Sunday, to confirm that his «brother is, indeed, on a hunger strike». «Cameras installed in my cell can clearly show that I don’t eat the meals I receive», Al Ablak said in a message posted by his brother.

For the record, Rabii Al Ablak is one of the six citizen-journalists arrested in 2017 for covering Hirak protests in the Rif region. His sentence was upheld by an appeal court in June 2018.

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