THE INHABITANTS OF A VILLAGE IN MOROCCO CHALLENGE THE MINE OF IMIDER

By Soraya El Kahlaoui (collaborator of The Monde Afrique, Casablanca), February 2, 2015

“I have known the most of the people who have contributed to spreading our cause through Facebook.” The man has just come down from Alebban Mount, where he lives at 1500 meters above sea level. For over three years, Brahim Udawd, 32 years old, lives in a permanent camp. With other villagers persists in depriving access to water to SMI mining company, with which they came in conflict on July 2011. Brahim Udawd, like the others, has left his Imider’s village and since then all his life is dedicated to activism. “A bit of fun and a lot of work”, he melts a smile describing his daily life.
The beginning of Imider people’s struggle against SMI broke out in July 2011. They were mainly the women of the village who have expressed their anger. They had no more water from the tap because of the excessive exploitation by the mine. In addition, the university students had not found a summer job, as usual, in the mine. Over time, the struggle has taken on a global dimension. “Today we are fighting for the life – insists Brahim – If our land is polluted, if our air is polluted, if we have no more water, if the mine robs us of all our resources, what will be left for the future generations?”.

Boycotting strategies and civil disobedience
For Brahim Udawd, the Movement on the Road ’96 upset his daily life. Today, his existence revolves around the struggle against the mining company. Boicotting strategies, civil disobedience, organization of village assemblies, these are the only words that he has by now in his mouth. For him it’s impossible to return to a normal life until the situation in Imider will not be resolved.
Not without pride, tells how the militants of Nantes’ “defensive zone” came to meet them to discuss struggles strategies. Amused, he accurately describes each of the techniques implemented by Zad to destabilize the police. “We must constantly renew the way we fight” he repeats incessantly. Moreover, in three and a half years, the movement has come a long way.
Today, the camp on top of Alebban Mount is solidly built. Each villager holds the sit-in in front of his small house, composed of a square room where you can often see drawings and quotes by Bertold Brecht. Also the women have their homes and they participate to keep the new village of the disobedients. In the future, even the hope to be able to install panels for solar energy.

Contribute to local development
Brahim Udawd insists on the a-political nature and the independence of the Movement. “Our only concern is to solve the Imider social problems” he says, and that’s why they made a “diagnosis” of the seven villages of the Imider Municipality. “We identify the problems and we propose the alternatives, he says. For example, we suggested to group together the educational facilities and to establish a system of transport between the villages to remedy the lack of infrastructure. The old schools can also be turned into asylums”.
For him, the mining company has the duty to contribute to the development of the local rural community, as compensation for its management. “One day the mine will go away, of the rest have already invested in many other countries in Africa, and nothing will remain to us. The SMI has to support the local development and ensure activities that may constitute an income” he says firmly. One thing is clear to these angry people: Imider has no reason to be the poorest Municipality in the region, while it is the richest in resources.

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