People shout slogans and wave posters during a rally in Rabat, Morocco, on April 21, 2019. Thousands of Moroccans rallied in the capital Rabat on Sunday to demand the immediate release of jailed activists in Rif protests. (Xinhua/Chadi)
RABAT, April 21 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of Moroccans rallied in the capital Rabat on Sunday to demand the immediate release of jailed activists in Rif protests.
Organized by several opposition political parties and rights associations, the demonstrators strongly denounced the upholding of the sentence of dozens of protesters, which is up to 20 years in prison over the protest that rocked the north-eastern region of the kingdom in late 2016 and 2017.
On April 5, the appeal court in Casablanca upheld the prison terms handed to the protest leaders after a first instance verdict handed down in June 2018.
The families of the convicts and their lawyers were also present in the march.
Authorities accused the activists of undermining public order and national unity as well as violence against law enforcement agents.
The protests took place in October 2016, when fish vendor Mouhcine Fikri was crushed to death after climbing into a rubbish lorry to retrieve his swordfish confiscated by police.
Demanding justice for Fikri evolved into a grassroots movement, requiring greater government investment and more jobs for several months.