Thousands of Spaniards have taken to the streets to protest the brutal treatment of those attempting to cross into North African city Melilla this week.
At least 37 African migrants were beaten to death by Spanish authorities for attempting to cross into Morrocco/Spain bordering city Melilla this week. Around 2,000 migrants camped out in the Moroccan mountains and ultimately made their descent on the city's border last week Friday. They were met with unnecessary brutality, as the Moroccan border guards threw tear gas, and crushed and beat those who made it across. Both the African Union and United Nations have condemned the violence, as supporters within Spain protest for those lost.
Chairman of the Africa Union Commission, Chad's Moussa Faki Mahamattweeted, “I express my deep shock and concern at the violent and degrading treatment of African migrants attempting to cross an international border from #Morocco into #Spain, with the ensuing violence leading to the deaths of at least 23 people and injuries to many more." Nigerian politician and former Minister Femi Fani-Kayode spoke of Morocco's security forces using "unjustified" violence against migrants attempting to cross.
In March, about 491 migrants made it into Melilla out of the 1,200 who made the attempt. During the event earlier this year, Spanish security forces initiated an "anti-intrusion" operation, as the government described the "extreme violence" by the Migrants who "threw stones, used hooks and sticks" at border agents. This latest attempt was met with brutal force as hundreds of Migrants walked through the city streets after cutting a section of the fence with bolt cutters.
Morocco's interior ministry described the event as a "stampede" and has recorded 140 wounded officers, as those on the scene released the gruesome footage of the aftermath on social media. Video showed migrants cramped into corners within border security fences with power-hungry guards ready to attack at a moment's notice. Those injured appeared to be unattended, while those in critical conditions lay still, bleeding as officers towered over them.
Mahamat called for “an immediate investigation into the matter and remind all countries of their obligations under international law to treat all migrants with dignity and to prioritize their safety and human rights while refraining from the use of excessive force.” It is illegal to refuse masses at the border, under international refugee treaties, as it denies the opportunity to apply for asylum -- in the past, European courts have justified them at times.
Melilla sits 150km (90 miles) away from the Spanish Mainland, on the North African coast. The only other land border between Africa and Europe is its sister city Ceuta. A total of 133 migrants "successfully" reached the city, and will be housed in its 'Migrant Temporary Stay Center' while authorities determine their legal status.
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