OCCUPIED TERRITORIES - HUMAN RIGHTS
Release of 100 Moroccan prisoners of war
At the request of the German government and following talks led by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr Jurgen Chrobog, the Polisario Front decided to release 100 Moroccan prisoners of war as a humanitarian gesture. (Communiqués MinInfo RASD, AFAPREDESA-UJS, ONG allemandes, français - deutsch , M. Kessler, pres EP Intergroup, SPS)
« The German government expressly welcomes the fact that the Polisario has agreed to this humanitarian gesture, which was also obtained with the support of the Algerian government », the German ministry of Foreign Affairs pointed out in a statement. Morocco thanked Germany for its role in the liberation of the prisoners. The Saharawi representative in Madrid recalled that 226 Saharawi prisoners of war are still imprisoned in Morocco.
A training and cultural centre financed by OXFAM Belgique and managed by the National Union of Saharawi Women (NUSW), was opened. The « Naaja Ali Brahim » Centre with an area of 240 m2, can accommodate 140 women, for the use of production workshops, a library, a computer cluster, and a beauty parlour. (SPS)
OCCUPIED TERRITORIES - HUMAN RIGHTS
First national Congress of the Forum for Truth and Justice. At the end of three days' deliberations, the congress gave itself new statutes and elected its national council of 79 members, which will appoint an executive of 15 members. 44 delegates from the Sahara section took part in the conference. Five of them were elected to the national council of the association, the highest body of the Forum after the congress.
The Moroccan authorities banned a peaceful march planned by Saharawi teachers sitting-in outside the National Ministry of Education in Rabat. The police surrounded the demonstrators. (see week 24/02)
Hamadi Mohamed Lamine Jiyed, alias Enasiri, a member of the Forum for Truth and Justice Sahara Section, who took part in the national congress, was arrested by the police while he was going to the National Security in Rabat to renew his identity card. He was taken to El Ayoun the same day. Enasiri is a former Saharawi political detainee, who « disappeared » for four months in 1992. He is accused of having been a leader of the events in Smara in November 2001. Saharawi students organised a sit-in of solidarity outside a police station in the centre of Rabat, to demand his release.
The police questioned three Forum for Truth and Justice - Sahara Section (FTJ-Sahara) activists H'mad Hammad, Idri Lahoussine and Brahim Ismaili, who were in Dakhla, after beseiging the house where they were and breaking down the door. Their car was seized.
Members of the executive of the FTJ-Sahara and the association of Saharawi unemployed were summoned by the police in El Ayoun. The police seem to be looking for the origin of the report on the human rights situation in Western Sahara which has set off a controversy in the Moroccan press. (see week 24/02)
The MEP Marianne Eriksson has refused to endorse the report written by the ad hoc committee on Western Sahara, chaired by Mrs Lalumière. Having taken part in the mission, she presented her own report, considering that the « official » version did not correspond to reality and contained historical inaccuracies and failed to acknowledge international law and the UN/OAU peace plan, which gives the Saharawis the right to a referendum of self-determination. The Swedish MEP complains that the report is completely in line with the Moroccan and French positions. (Press release, with link to full report)
The 7th summit of the UMA, due to take place in Algiers on 21 and 22 June, was suddenly postponed sine die, officially at the request of Colonel Moumar El Khaddafi. Once again, the question of Western Sahara was at the origin of the failure of this meeting, which had been carefully prepared by Algeria, this year's president of the UMA. The Moroccan prime minister justified a few days earlier the absence of King Mohamed VI because of the attitude of Algiers about Western Sahara. « While a long awaited summit was being prepared, certain incomprehensible initiatives became apparent as the summit approached », he declared, without making clear the nature or origin of these initiatives, mentioning « the surprising attitude adopted in recent weeks by our neighbours on the question of the Sahara ».
Members of the
Youth of Moroccan Democrats abroad, JDME, and the Youth of the
Polisario Front met in Paris on 15 June. They observed a minute's
silence in memory of Fadel Ismaïl, who had played a major role
in setting up this meeting. Despite the absence of youth
organisations from Moroccan political parties, which had requested
the postponement of the meeting, a dialogue was started, a taboo was
broken. In a statement, the JDME said that « the moment was
opportune - independently of our position on the question of Western
Sahara - not to be content with the union but to move on to practical
work and to begin doing it. » The JDME appealed to « work
for the right to self-determination of the peoples of the Maghreb,
the right to peace, to liberty, to justice and to democracy
For his part, the representative of the Union of Young People of the Saguiet El Hamra and the Rio de Oro (UJSARIO), Sidi Mohamed Oumar, highlighted « the importance of a meeting of this kind » between the active elements in both countries, expressing the hope that this would constitute « a starting point for opening a fruitful and constructive dialogue which could help bring peace and justice between Morocco and SADR ».
The European Commission adopted a global plan for humanitarian aid for the Saharawi refugees worth 14.34 million euros. The programme makes provision for various foodstuffs, essential medicines, health items and blankets for the winter. The European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Poul Nielson, said in a statement that the conflict in Western Sahara had become a sort of « forgotten conflict », but that the EU « would maintain its commitment towards the Saharawis ». (EP, SPS)
Over ten thousand Saharawi children will go to Europe for the summer period, to Spain, Italy, France, Switzerland and Austria. About thirty children have gone to the United States of America for a stay of 45 days, organised for the third time by Christ the Rock Community Church. (SPS)
World Forum of civil society, Geneva, 14-19.07.02, organised by the UN, will include among other things a working group on the right of peoples to self-determination and another on human rights. (http://www.worldcivilsociety.org)
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