Thousands protest in Spain after death of migrants trying to reach the country

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Thousands of people protested in several cities in Spain on Friday (1st) for the independent investigation into the death, last week, of at least 23 migrants who tried to cross the border from Morocco with Melilla, a Spanish exclave in North Africa.

The deaths took place on June 24, after immigrants tried to climb a fence that separates the territories. Moroccan officials say the victims were crushed during what they called the stampede, but protesters blame the tragedy on repression by security forces at the border and Europe’s migration policies. The victims have not yet been identified.

In Madrid, protesters filled Callao Square, in the center of the capital, and held up posters with slogans such as “borders kill” and “no human being is illegal”. In Barcelona, ​​dozens of people marched while chanting slogans against racism and colonialism. The demonstrations had references to the American movement “Black Lives Matter” (black lives matter, in Portuguese).

Protests were also recorded in Morocco. In the country’s capital, Rabat, about 40 people with posters smeared with red paint called for justice for the deaths of immigrants.

Videos and photos released in the days following the deaths provoked outrage from human rights groups. In one, shared by the Moroccan Association for Human Rights, dozens of young Africans, some of them immobile and bleeding, appear on the ground as Moroccan agents guard them. A uniformed man beats one of the people with a truncheon.

In another video, a group appears passing through the fence. Some people throw stones at the police, and in another section, the installation collapses – the migrants fall from a height of several meters.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said he was shocked by the violence on the border. “The use of excessive force is unacceptable, and human rights and people’s dignity must be prioritized.”

The Moroccan and Spanish authorities reported that 140 security agents on the Moroccan side and 60 National Police and Civil Guard officers on the Spanish side were injured. Spanish prosecutors announced the opening of an investigation into the case.

The majority of victims are believed to be from Sudan. The violence in the country and the lack of food have caused thousands of people to risk themselves in an attempt to cross the border with Europe.

Sudanese Salah Eddine Ahmad Mousa, 24, was at the scene of the tragedy and had to play dead to survive. He told the Reuters news agency that he chose Morocco as a springboard to a refuge on the European continent because he could cross the border without the help of smugglers.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said his government would fully cooperate with the investigations. The Spanish government has blamed border mafias for the deaths. On Monday (27), the Moroccan Justice decided to prosecute 65 people, mostly from Sudan, for involvement in the tragedy.

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