International condemnation is growing against Morocco and Spain as more details emerge about the violent deaths of at least 37 migrants during an attempt last week to cross Morocco’s border with the Spanish enclave of Melilla. According to media reports, more than 2,000 people attempted to enter the enclave from the Moroccan city of Nador. Moroccan authorities initially claimed that the migrants died in a stampede or as a result of falling from the high, barbed-wire fence that separates Melilla from Moroccan territory. But human rights groups threw cold water on those claims, and video footage quickly emerged and circulated on social media that further called them into question.
One video posted by Southern Africa Eye, which describes itself as “an independent news network,” showed what appeared to be Moroccan security forces in full riot gear throwing rocks at migrants as they attempt to cross the Spanish border fence. In another video that was shared by the Moroccan Association of Human Rights, known by its French acronym AMDH, dozens of bodies and injured men can be seen piled one on top of another along the border area between Morocco and Spain. A video of a Moroccan security officer beating visibly injured migrants with a baton as they lie writhing on the floor, before a colleague proceeds to throw the limp body of another man onto the pile, also went viral on Twitter and other social media platforms.
The videos circulating online also suggest the official death toll from the border crossing, put between 18 and 37 people depending on the source, is almost certainly a vast undercount. The AMDH also raised the alarm that Moroccan authorities were preparing graves to bury the dead refugees without identifying them or performing an autopsies.