26th Telefonica-Dakar Rally
The organisers of the Telefonica-Dakar motor rally, have obtained a green light from the Saharawi authorities to cross Western Sahara after having undertaken to respect the conditions set by the Polisario Front (geographical map with correct borders, escort by MINURSO, political neutrality etc.) (SPS)
The Swedish parliament approved the report of its Foreign Affairs Committee (Utrikesutskottets betänkande 2003/04:UU3) which expressed its full support for the role of the UN in Western Sahara, for the peace plan as well as for the present mediation efforts towards finding a quick and lasting solution to the conflict. They declare that the Saharawi people should be able to enjoy the right to self-determination and decolonisation. The report insists on Sweden approaching other countries and international organisations with a view to increasing their humanitarian aid to the refugees.
The Aragon Cortes (Parliament) gave unanimous approval to an "Institutional Declaration" asking the Spanish government to renew, in the Security Council's forthcoming debates their support for the Baker plan in order to push the Moroccan authorities to accept it also. The parliamentarians also welcomed the Saharawi people's acceptance of the plan.
In its report on human rights defenders throughout the world, A.I. notes that dozens of Saharawi families of disappeared, human rights defenders working on the issue of disappearance, as well as Saharawi activists, have been the object of harassment and intimidation by Moroccan authorities over recent months. Some of them had been members of the Sahara branch of the Forum for Truth and Justice, banned on 18 June 2003. A.I. is concerned by the fact that peaceful expression of opinion by them on self-determination and human rights and communication between them and foreign human rights organisations should be considered as illegal acts by their justice system.
Mohammed Daddach and Hmad Hammad were once again subjected to bickering over procedures and intimidation by Moroccan authorities. They went by car to Smara to see Nassiri Ahmed, a political prisoner released on 21.12.03 after serving a prison sentence. At the police barrier of the royal gendarmerie at the entrance to the town, they were arrested and subjected to interrogation on the reasons for their visit. Their car was thoroughly searched. After an hour, they were released but followed right to the house of Nassiri's family. For the whole of their stay they were watched. As they left the town, they were still followed by the royal gendarmerie for about ten kilometres out of Smara.
Saharawi political prisoners in El Ayoun's black prison decided to renew their struggle for their rights. They will begin a hunger strike on the 9, 10 and 11 January next and envisage proceeding to an unlimited strike. They will ask for support from human rights defenders throughout the world. (AFAPREDESA)
Prisoners of war
From 2-16 December delegates of the ICRC, including a doctor, visited the Moroccan prisoners in the hands of the Polisario Front. They talked individually with 291 of the 614 prisoners still held in captivity, of whom 188 have been held for over 20 years. The object of the visit was to evaluate the conditions of detention and the progress of their state of physical and psychological health. (...) The ICRC remains very concerned about the physical and mental state of these prisoners and reiterates its appeal that all should be liberated without delay, in conformity with the provisions of international humanitarian law. (ICRC)
MAGHREB ARAB UNION
Postponement sine die of the summit of the MAU
The summit of the Maghreb Arab Union (MAU), due to be held on 23 and 24 December in Algiers, was postponed sine die by the Council of Foreign Affairs Ministers of the organisation meeting in Algiers. The presidency of the organisation was entrusted to Libya.
President Mouamar El Khadafi made the following statement to the Libyan press agency: "(...) The question of the Sahara is at the top of the agenda for the next summit, and this will be held after the coming presidential elections in Algeria. We must inform ourselves about the efforts of James Baker, in charge of the Sahara question. The date of the next summit of the Union of the Arab Maghreb will be agreed and will take place in Libya after dialogue with the member countries.
Tifariti (liberated territories of SADR)
International march to the wall of shame in Western Sahara
"For peace and self-determination for the Saharawi people", "Demand that the UN keeps its commitments". Organised by Spanish associations of solidarity in collaboration with the European Coordination of support for the Saharawi people, this march to the "wall" which separates Saharawi families is to denounce the suffering of the Saharawi people who have been waiting for 28 years to decide their own future. Its aim is to make the UN and the international community implement the Security Council's resolutions. See Information, program, (at the moment only in Spanish)
Sahara Blues - Mariem Hassan and Leyoad (Western Sahara) Information and reservations: 02 / 230.31.40. e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
21-28.02.04, Saharawi Refugee Camps: Sahara Marathon 2004. Further information: http://www.saharamarathon.com/
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