Thousands of people in several Spanish cities demonstrated on Friday against the deaths of at least 23 migrants last week on the border between Spain’s African enclave of Melilla and Morocco, amid growing calls for an independent, cross-border investigation about the incident.
The protests were held under the name “Las Vidas Negras Importan” in Spanish or “Black Lives Matter” in English.
The deaths occurred on June 24 during repeated attempts by sub-Saharan migrants and asylum seekers to scale the border barrier separating the territories. Moroccan authorities say the migrants died following a stampede, but protesters blame European authorities and migration policies.
In Madrid, protesters filled Callao Square and held up signs reading “Borders Kill” and “No human being is illegal”. In Barcelona, participants marched chanting against racism and colonialism.
In Rabat, the capital of Morocco, around 40 people held signs splattered with red paint, imitating blood to demand justice for the dead migrants.
“We are here to express our anger at the massacre that took place in Melilla,” says Mamadou Diallo, coordinator of the Collective of Sub-Saharan Communities in Morocco. “We have issued recommendations to the Moroccan authorities, who are responsible for setting up an independent investigation to identify those responsible for this massacre, but above all for the identification of all the remains, in order to return their bodies to their relatives or bury in humane conditions,
Videos and photos released in the days following the deaths have sparked outrage and condemnation from several human rights groups and officials, including United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
In a video shared by the Moroccan Association for Human Rights, dozens of young African men, some of them motionless and bleeding, are seen strewn on the ground as Moroccan security forces stand overhead. of them. A man in uniform is seen poking a body with his baton.
In another video, a group of migrants are seen climbing over a fence, some throwing rocks at Moroccan riot police trying to stop them. At one point, the fence collapses, sending them to the ground from a height of several meters.
Spanish prosecutors have announced the launch of an investigation “to clarify what happened” given the “significance and gravity” of the events at the Melilla border.
The Moroccan Association for Human Rights disputed the official death toll, instead reporting that 27 migrants had died, while the Spanish NGO Walking Borders reported 37 deaths.
Moroccan and Spanish authorities also reported that 140 security officers on the Moroccan side and 60 national police and civil guard officers on the Spanish side were injured.
The dead have not yet been identified.