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Health Magazine Documents Spain’s War Crimes in Morocco’s Rif Region

Faced with a mounting pile of reports and studies documenting its war crimes in northern Morocco, Spain is yet to address the legacy of its occupation of the region.

Gilmore Health News magazine published a detailed article linking the spread of cancer in Morocco's Rif region to the chemical weapons the Spanish army used during the Rif War in the mid-1920s.

Author Robert Miller started his report with an overview of the history of the war, enumerating the “several war crimes committed during the armed conflict.”

The article listed multiple war crimes the Spanish army committed in northern Morocco, including summary execution of civilians, rape, castration/mutilation of Moroccan prisoners of war, the bombing of children and women, and the use of chemical weapons. 

According to the report, the reckless decision to resort to chemical weapons was motivated by Spanish’s military defeat in the Battle of Annual in July 1921.

The human toll of the Rif wars was heavy: nearly 30,000 casualties on the Moroccan side, 23,000 on the Spanish side, and close to 10,000 in the french camp.

“The Spanish army used Chloropicrin, mustard gas, diphosgene, and phosgene,” explained Miller.

Despite Spain ratifying the 1925 Geneva Protocol prohibiting the use of biological and chemical weapons during international conflicts, many researchers have documented the country’s use of these weapons in northern Morocco.

According to Miller’s article, Spain’s use of chemical warfare can be directly linked to the spread of cancer in the Rif region. 

Many human rights activists and NGOs also linked the spread of the disease in the area to the possible effects of the chemical weapons used during the aforementioned war.

Quoting Rachid Rakha, President of the World Amazigh Assembly, Miller writres, “You can’t find a single family here without a diagnosed relative.”

Despite Morocco’s well-documented losses during the Spanish occupation, Madrid still refuses to admit the war crimes in question, in avoidance of possible reparation claims or requests. 

In May of this year, both the French and German governments officially acknowledged responsibility for their involvement in “genocide” in Rwanda and Namibia, respectively.

For observers, such gestures put Madrid under international pressure to acknowledge its crimes in the Rif region and attempt to address the lingering effects they have had on generations of northern Moroccans.

The Spanish government previously discussed the possibility of granting financial compensation to the region. But talks have remained confined to the Spanish Parliament for the last decade, and are yet to be brought up on the international scene.


Source: Morocco World News.

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