NewEpoch Media

Moroccan government to be blamed for miners deaths

January 5, 2018

In a four day long protest starting the 22th of December, more then ten thousand people in the city of Jerada demanded justice and compensation for two miners killed in a mine collapse. After forcing these workers into illegality, the Moroccan Government attempted to bury the bodies quietly and to avoid taking their responsibility in the two young mans deaths.

In the late 90s, 9.000 people were thrown out of their jobs when the government closed down the state operated mine in Jerada, from one day to another leaving 15% of its population with out work and perspective as no alternative was presented. Since then, Jerada has seen a massive depopulation with 25% of inhabitants leaving the area. Many of those unable to leave the city however continued working the now abandoned mines illegally. Earning around 9€ per day, they day by day have to risk their lives climbing and working in the abandoned shafts and selling the coal to local traders affiliated with international corporations like the french Engie SA and Lafarge, JLEC (the electricity operator of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates whose Moroccan operations are linked to France's Société Générale bank) and several Chinese firms including Sepco III.

Hence, by keeping the coal companies around but shutting down the big mines without providing an alternative, the Moroccan government in fact forced many thousand miners into illegality as they continue to operate the shafts. Obviously this makes conditions even more favorable for foreign companies, as all the risks are offloaded onto the workers, while making the price for coal even cheaper.

The death of two young brothers working 85 meters underground on the 22th of December re-ignited the hatred of the people against this government policy yet again and resulted in four days of massive protests. Especially so, after the government officials arriving at the scene first were unwilling to even investigate their deaths and organize a search. In the end, this was done by the people of Jerada. Furthermore, in an attempt to quite down the protests to be expected, the government attempted to bury the two bodies in the middle of the night. Only by finding two freshly dug graves on the graveyard close by and through organizing a watch to guard the graveyard, people of Jerada could prevent the government from quietly burying them without even informing their families. The whole city went on strike in response.

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