Nasser Zefzafi, jailed Moroccan protest leader, was today shortlisted for the 2018 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

Zefzafi is GUE/NGL’s nominee for the human rights award to honour the ongoing struggle for social justice of the people of Morocco’s Rif region.

He is currently serving a 20-year sentence alongside dozens of others following protests against economic inequality that started in 2016 which were violently repressed.

Marie-Christine Vergiat (Front de Gauche, France) welcomed the result of the vote in a joint meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Development committees of the European Parliament:

“The shortlisting of Nasser Zefzafi for the Sakharov Prize sends a strong message in defence of social justice and against the repression of pacifist movements in Morocco and everywhere else.”

“Zefzafi became a symbol of Hirak, the social movement that began after the death of the young fishmonger Mouhcine Fikri. He is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence for daring to protest in support of social justice and against regional inequalities.”

Lola Sánchez Caldentey (Podemos, Spain) reiterated the group’s solidarity with Zefzafi and the citizens of the Rif region demanding basic rights:

“Zefzafi’s shortlisting is a victory for those who promote democratic values and the rule of law in Morocco. It is a victory for the popular movements in the Rif region and for their tireless fight against corruption, social inequality, lack of goods and services, and for their defence of liberties and fundamental rights.”

“This is also a recognition of the unjust incarceration of Nasser Zefzafi and the other political prisoners in the Rif region and a sign of the dignity of their struggle. We express our solidarity and support for Nasser and Hirak,”  Sánchez Caldentey concluded.

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