"On the day of the demonstration, security forces killed a cow and set fire to the villagers’ crops"
Dozens of people were injured during last Thursday’s demonstration, some of them seriously. Many of the wounded could not be taken to the hospital because security forces had surrounded the area, and the locals were afraid of being arrested if they tried to leave. Some demonstrators, many of whom had suffered broken bones, managed to take refuge in neighbouring villages, where they received rudimentary medical care. On the day of the demonstration, security forces killed a cow and set fire to the villagers’ crops. But the worst was yet to come.The villagers claim they have been mistreated by Rivera del Arroz. Photo taken by Saïd Kharraje on 19 June.At 9 a.m. on Saturday morning, police forced their way into people’s homes and dragged the residents into the streets. They were taken to the village square and sprayed with water cannons. Meanwhile, other officers raided the villagers’ empty houses. They destroyed people’s ovens, took their food, and stole any valuables they could find, including pieces of jewellery.A young man from Chlihat shows his shoulder wound. Photo taken by Saïd Kharraje on 19 June."Young people have taken refuge in the forest and neighbouring villages to avoid arrest"We have counted 100 people who were injured, including a child who was blinded in one eye. Two students claimed that they were tortured by police officers who wanted information on Arriahi Ayachi, a human rights activist who is being held on charges of civil disobedience. [We have asked the local authorities for their version of events but they have not yet responded].A young man who suffered head injuries. Photo taken by Saïd Kharraje on 19 June.Today, Chlihat is a ghost town. Young people have taken refuge in the forest and surrounding villages to avoid arrest, and the women and elderly people who remain in the village refuse to talk to either activists or the press for fear of reprisals.
“Things got out of hand when an old woman who was protesting was knocked down by a tractor"
We’ve done nothing wrong. Our only 'weapons' were banners and slogans. At the beginning of the protest we stood in the way of the tractors to try to stop them from going anywhere. But one of the drivers, a European, started up his tractor and knocked over an old woman. In response, one of the kids threw a stone at him. And that’s when it all started: rubber bullets, tear gas, beatings, arrests…We’re prepared to negotiate to resolve this situation but the violence must stop. They have to let the women receive medical treatment and allow the children to go to school.