WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 17 - 18 : 24.04.-07.05.2005

original french

SADR

22.04.05, Health
The scientific study days on health took place in the wilaya of Smara, with the participation of Saharawi and foreign doctors and researchers. Talks and presentations were given on preventive health, hygiene, vaccination and on children's and women's health.  [SPS]

23.04.05, Terrorism
The Pan-Sahel initiative in the fight against "terrorism", limited in its first phase to Niger, Mali, Tchad and Mauritania, will be widened to Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. This was announced by General Wald, the deputy chief of staff of the American High Command in Europe. [Jeune Indépendant, Alger]

24.04.05, Mauritania
The Saharawi Minister for the Occupied Territories and Saharawi communities abroad, Khalil Sidi Mohamed, handed a message from the Saharawi President to his Mauritanian counterpart.

25.04.05, Youth
The Spanish Youth Council (Consejo de la Juventud de España ) and the Union of the Youth of Saguia El Hamra and Rio de Oro (
UJSARIO ) signed a collaboration convention, "the highest and most formal expression of the links of friendship and cooperation which tie the two parties and a demonstration of the political will of the two bodies to pursue collaboration and cooperation in the future". Members of the Global Political Group of the European Forum of Youth were present at the ceremony. [SPS]

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO

25.04.05, Pro-referendum Comittee
Sidi Mohamed Daddach, human rights activist and Rafto prize-winner 2002, announces the formation of a "Saharawi Committee for the Referendum in Western Sahara" (CSRSO). In a statement, he reaffirms "that the holding of a just and transparent referendum of self-determination remains the optimal democratic option capable of putting an end to this conflict." [
Press Release]

26.04.05, Letter to Annan
Saharawi human rights activists ask the UN Secretary General to widen the work of MINURSO to include protection of the Saharawi population in the occupied territories and to move towards lifting the military and media siege which hangs over them. [
Letter]

27.04.05, Questioning
Elmami Aamar Salem, a human rights activist and President of the Saharawi Committee against Torture in Dakhla, was taken by force to the police station for questioning. Elmami had refused to present himself to the police because no charge had been made. After a protest sit-in outside the police station, Elmami was set free. The questioning which he underwent concerned his activities and an article published in the paper Al Bidaoui No 147.

30.04.05, Interview
Sidi Mohamed Daddach, declared to the Moroccan magazine "Le Journal Hebdo", that the referendum of self-determination is still the only option for a definitive and democratic solution to the conflict in Western Sahara. [
Interview] (See also, "Dossier Sahara: la rébellion?", in the Journal hebdomadaire, no 206, under publications)

03.05.05, Norway: scandal
The Norwegian Ambassador to Morocco is recalled to Oslo for consultations the day before a broadcast by the Norwegian TV channel, NRK of a documentary on the activities of Norwegian commercial enterprises in occupied Western Sahara (principally fishing). The report filmed in Morocco, Western Sahara and in the refugee camps shows that Norwegian businesses are maintaining commercial relations in the territories occupied by Morocco, in violation of Norway's official policy and reveals that the Norwegian Ambassador fostered these activities. His declarations that Western Sahara "is a part of Morocco" and that he had never implemented directives from the foreign minister advising against investment in the fishing sector in occupied Western Sahara sparked off a real scandal.
Already in July 2004 his visit to the occupied zones had earned him a reprimand and the allocation of funds for aid to businesses investing in Western Sahara was stopped by the Ministry. For the Norwegian Committee of Support for the Saharawi people, the recall of the ambassador comes very late. It asks in a statement, that the Norwegian government's policy should be made clearer, that it should increase aid to the refugees and move swiftly to recognise the Saharawi Republic. >>
special page

03.05.05, Campaign against Tamek
In a statement published by MAP, four "members of the family Ahl Tamek denounced 'the schemes of Ali Salem Tamek' whom they exclude from  'family, tribal and national unity' calling him 'traitor', for having held their dignity up to ridicule and compromised the sacrifices consented to by their tribe Aït Oussa for the preservation of the territorial unity and integrity of the Kingdom."

Saharawi human rights activists react immediately by launching the same day a petition of solidarity with Tamek.[To sign the Solidarity Petition] [In Arabic]
The next day, they turn to international human rights NGOs and human rights defenders, to ask them to take urgent measures to protect Tamek's life.
Two former Saharawi detainees, Aminatou Haidar and Messaoud Elarbi express in a joint statement from El Ayoun their support for Tamek "until complete independence and the construction of an independent Saharawi state." [
statement, arabic]

05.05.05 Call for expulsion
MAP is relayed by the daily "Aujourd'hui le Maroc", which writes: "It only remains for Mr Tamek, if he is consistent with his own ideas, to leave Morocco to go and live in the camps in Tindouf with his new brothers, the Polisario lot. That's the least he could do. If he drags his feet, measures must be taken to expel him to the country of Abdelaziz's gang. No place in the Kingdom for traitors." [
Renié par les siens] [ALM éditorial]

The same daily, publishes an interview with a member of Tamek's family, his uncle, Abderrahman Tamek, director of the Chamber of arts and crafts in  Dakhla-Villa Cisneros. [ALM]

06.05.05
About seventy members of Tamek's family take up the defense of the activist in a statement. They denounce the campaign they see as "racist and chauvinistic" concocted by the Makhzen to discredit him and to prevent him from exercising his legitimate rights. [
communiqué]

NATURAL RESOURCES

Oil
The contract between the North American oil company, Kerr McGee (KMG) and the Moroccan government concerning the exploration for oil off-shore from occupied Western Sahara has reached its expiry date of 1 May. Western Sahara Resource Watch, which brings together twenty NGOs from around the world, once again appealed to KMG not to renew its (illegal) contract with Morocco.  [
Press release of Western Sahara Resource Watch - WSRW, 28.04.05]

On 5 May Kerr-McGee announced the renewal of its contract with the government of Morocco until 29 October 2005, the date of the next discussion on Western Sahara in the UN Security Council.

In a Press Release http://www.arso.org/KMGPR050505.htm Western Sahara Resource Watch denounces this decision and calls on all Kerr McGee's shareholders to sell their shares from this company, pointing out that a large Norwegian shareholder &endash; Skagenfondene &endash; has already divested its shareholding of 100,000 shares in Kerr McGee, at a loss of two million dollars. At present the Norwegian Oil Fund belonging to the Norwegian state, is contemplating selling its investment estimated to be worth over 31 million dollars. Kerr McGee is the last foreign company to be still working on the ground, after the withdrawal of the seismological businesses TGS-Nopec and Fugro, as well as the departure of Total.  [>> see also the oil dossier under Natural Resources]

REFERENDUM

22.04.05, Declaration
The Saharawi coordinator with MINURSO, M'Hamed Khadad, affirmed in an interview with the Spanish paper ABC, that "Spain should play the same role that Portugal played in the decolonisation of East Timor".
The Saharawi diplomat criticised Spain's position which declares itself "for a solution of the conflict in the framework of international law", while it "shows itself to be in favour of Morocco" in its "rejection of the implementation of all the plans adopted by the UN since 1991 up until the latest Baker plan".[
ABC]

25.04.05 Secretary General's report
The representative of the Polisario Front at the UN sends a letter to the President of the Security Council.[
Letter ]

26.04.05, Spain
Spain is in favour of the extension of MINURSO's mandate in the Sahara in the aim of favouring the "new dynamics" which Madrid is in the process of promoting in favour of a definitive solution to the conflict in the Sahara, the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Miguel Angel Moratinos indicated.

28.04.05, Security Council Resolution S/RES/1598 (2005)
The Security Council decides to extend MINURSO's mandate until 31 October 2005, after having recalled all its preceding resolutions and reaffirmed its will to help the parties to reach a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution which would allow the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.[
UN News]

Reactions

SADR
The Saharawi representative at the United Nations, Mr. Ahmed Bukhari, expresses his country's satisfaction following the adoption of the resolution. But the Polisario Front, he adds, "considers that the cease-fire should not be the only concern of the United Nations in Western Sahara. The international organisation should rather be working so that the decolonisation process, which has been blocked for so long by Moroccan intransigence, should be achieved through respect for the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination." [SPS]
"This resolution underlines the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and the re-validation of the Baker plan constitutes a response to those who say that this peace plan has been buried", indicates Mohamed Beissat, Saharawi Ambassador in Algiers. "The Security Council has just recalled that there is no solution outside the framework of the UN", he adds.
Brahim Ghali, Saharawi representative in Madrid, holds that "Morocco goes back on its international commitments and for this reason, we have returned to the point of departure, as if MINURSO didn't exist, as if there had never been a settlement plan or the Houston agreement or the Baker plan..."
National Secretariat: Meeting in an extraordinary session, the Polisario Front's highest political body took note of Security Council's reaffirmation of its' support for the Baker Plan. It calls on the United Nations Secretary General as well as the Security Council to do all it can to make Morocco conform with international law and respect the national rights of the Saharawi people through the holding of a free and transparent referendum of self-determination.  [SPS]

Morocco
Morocco's Ambassador at the UN Mohamed Bennouna considers that the omission of the Baker plan from the resolution is "deliberate", because both the Secretary General and the Security Council wish "to avoid putting obstacles in the way of resumption of negotiations (...)". Morocco reiterates the commitment made to negotiate with all the parties for a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution to the dispute.

Algeria
"From our point of view, it is an excellent text, which reiterates the determination of the Security Council to find a solution which allows for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara", declares Abdallah Baâli, Algeria's Ambassador with the United Nations. He deplores the fact that Morocco "still rejects the peace plan and wants a solution which does not allow for the autonomy of the Saharawi people".
The Quotidien d'Oran asks the question: "What can be done now? The resumption of hostilities between the parties engaged in the conflict cannot be envisaged today, whether tactically or strategically, it seems that a solution is still possible. In the medium term, it could arise from a re-launch of the Maghreb dynamic of a thaw in relations between Algeria and Morocco."

29.04.05, Denmark
In a reply to a question from parliamentarian, Rune Lund (Red Green Alliance, Enhedslisten), on the position of Denmark towards the Saharawi question, the Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Per Stig Møller assures him that his country, which is at present a member of the Security Council, "will maintain its support to the efforts deployed by the United Nations aiming for a mutually acceptable solution" to the conflict. [SPS]

MOROCCO

24.04.05, Prisoners
Over forty Moroccan former prisoners of the Polisario, all civilian, gathered in Rabat outside the Ministry of the Interior to protest against "the inhuman treatment which has been given them by the state following their release".
"We want a decent home and compensation for the years of suffering which we lived through for the simple reason that we were Moroccan citizens". They then went to the parliament, where they were rapidly surrounded by the police. The Moroccan former civilian prisoners (much more than their military fellow detainees) on their return to Morocco fall into appalling poverty. Some of them have died like common tramps in the street. Others have succumbed to their illnesses and their bodies, completely decomposed have only been discovered several days later.[
ALM]

MOROCCO-SPAIN

Spain sells arms to Morocco
It's the Moroccan weekly, Alousbou'a, which reveals on 8 April that Morocco has bought from Spain about twenty tanks, type M60 A3, at a token price, destined for Western Sahara and the border with Algeria. The Spanish press confirmed this information. Morocco "promised" that these units would not be used against Ceuta and Melilla. The Moroccan army already has 300 tanks of the same type.
"Zapatero's Spain and Chirac's France compromise the chances of finding a peaceful solution to the question of Western Sahara. Instead of supplying it with tanks and radars, these countries should save Morocco from war", the Ambassador of Western Sahara in Algeria declared in a conference-debate "the decolonisation in international law" on 4 May in Algiers.

SPAIN

04.05.05
The parliament of Aragon approves a statement in which it reaffirms its support for the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people and the Baker plan. It asks organisations in Aragon to increase their humanitarian aid and joins the
interparliamentary Pact of 11 March 2005, approved by the Xith conference of parliamentary intergroups of Spain in Palma de Majorca.  

ALGERIA

01.05.05
Mohamed Bedjaoui is appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. An eminent lawyer, he presented the Algerian position during the debates at the I
nternational Court of Justice in the Hague in 1975.

HUMAN RIGHTS

25.04.05, European parliament
In its "Annual report on human rights in the world in 2004 and European Union policy on human rights (2004/2151(INI)", the European Parliament "takes note, with concern, of information pointing out human rights abuses in Western Sahara, including in respect of freedom of speech and freedom of movement and encourages Morocco and the Polisario Front to progress on the basis of the internationally recognised Baker plan". It invites Morocco and the Polisario Front to release all prisoners of war".
The Saharawi Minster delegate for Europe, Mr Mohamed Sidati, expresses the satisfaction of his country after the adoption of this report.[
Report, 28.04.05] - [Statement of Mr. Sidati] [Press release AFAPREDESA, 28.04.05]

27.04.05, UN
Morocco is elected a member of the UN Human Rights Commission for a mandate of three years.

HUMANITARIAN AID

01.05.05, Canada
Canada will contribute 1.5 million Canadian dollars (about 1.21 US dollars) towards the Saharawi refugees through WFP, the Canadian Embassy in Algiers announced in a statement. The Moroccan Liberal Party and some Moroccan journalists protested against this decision.

SOLIDARITY

THE 2005 World's Children's Prize for the Right of the Child
Hassana Hameida will return to SADR after taking part in the work of the Jury of World's Children's Prize and the Global Friends' Award. Hassan is one of 14 children in the world who has been helping to decide the recipient of both the World's Children's Prize and the Global Friends' Award. First he takes part in the Global Vote at the refugee school in Western Sahara . Then he flew to Sweden for the jury meeting, which took place in April 2005. Hassan will leave Sweden with a lot of good memories and most of all many friends children and adults.
The World ´s Children´s prize for the right of Child consists of the worlds children´s prizes awarded to the person (child or adult) or organization who-which has made an outstanding contribution for the rights of the child. The prize process, in which school children participate, is the world´s most estensive annual education in democracy, based on the right of child and global friendship. There are now 9000 Global friend schools of the WCPRC,with six million children in 73 countries ,and 250 adult Friend organizations .The WCPRC is empowering the children and gives them the platform from which they can demand respect for the rights of the child . This year's ceremony was held on Friday 15 April at Gripsholm Castle in Mariefred. All the jury were there, of course, as was the laureates, many children, musicians and Adults Friends. The ceremony was also broadcasted live to a 40 square meter video wall in central Mariefred and on Swedish Television. It was also broadcasted on Vietnams largest TV-station and in 5-10 other countries.

COMING UP...

RASD
19 -22 May de 2005
¡ 30 AÑOS BASTAN !
International campaign against the apartheid wall and Moroccan colonial occupation of Western Sahara:
II. March to the Wall
org.: Coordinadora estatal de Asociaciones Solidarias con el Sáhara, CEAS-SÁHARA.
>>
programme

AUSTRALIA
25-29 may2005: Sahara Art Caravan
Works by Western Saharan Artists living in refugee camps in Algeria:, Addison Road Gallery, 142 Addison Road, Marrickville
27 May: Landmines Week Event
for details see:
http://www.arso.org/WesternSaharaArt.jpg

INTERNET

 

NEW PUBLICATIONS
[External links to newspapers may not be valid after some days because the servers are restarted]

Français

>> Revue de la presse internationale francophone http://fr.groups.yahoo.com/group/revue-de-presse-sahara-occidental/messages

English

English publications on Sahara Update mailinglist: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sahara-update/messages

Castellano

Revista de la prensa en español: http://es.groups.yahoo.com/group/revista-de-prensa-sahara-occidental/messages

Catalan

- Les pintures rupestres prehistòriques del Zemmur (Sahara Occidental), Joaquim Soler i Subils, Tesi doctoral dirigida pel Dr.Julià Maroto i Genover, Departament de Geografia, Història i Història de l'Art, Facultat de Lletres, Universitat de Girona, 2004.

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