Declaration of the French Foreign Affairs Minister
Answering a question of the deputee Daniel Paul, Mr Hubert Védrine declared that since 1981, France has approved the principle of a referendum organized by the UN in Western Sahara. It has always shown neutrality and impartiality in this delicate question and supported the efforts of the Secretary-general and will continue this way.
The Western Sahara Initiative (WSI) of the Canadian Lawyers Association for International Human Rights (CLAIHR) made a presentation to members of the federal Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee. The Human Rights and International Development sub-committee was briefed on the recent developments in the Western Sahara conflict. CLAIHR members, as well as Jarat Chopra from The Watson Institute for International Studies, recommended that the Canadian government provide greater support for multilateral initiatives; Canadian parliamentarians play a pro-active role in supporting the Houston Agreement; and that greater support for NGO's be provided.
Representatives of the Western Sahara Initiative (WSI) of the Canadian Lawyers Association for International Human Rights (CLAIHR) met with Canada's Secretary of State (Latin America and Africa), the Honourable David Kilgour, P.C., M.P., and officials from his Department to discuss recent developments in Western Sahara. CLAIHR representative stressed the need for greater support for non-governmental organizations to increase transparency and accountability in the peace process.
MINURSO: Balance of identification
Identified applicants since December 1997: 61 109
Convoked applicants since December 1997: 92 875
Identified applicants since August 1994: 121 221
The Moroccan supreme Court of Justice in Rabat will examine on June 25 the case of the Moroccan opponent Abraham Serfaty banished since 1991 after his release from jail. It seems a settlement of his file stumbles on his opinions about the Western Sahara conflict.
AFAPREDESA tells that the Moroccan authorities have arrested without any apparent reason two young Saharawis in Lemseyed on Friday 29 of May: Habib Slayma Mohaymatou and Abouzeyde Lamghefri Sid-Ommo.
Ghana has reaffirmed his government's support for the self-determination of the people of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), saying they have the right to freedom. "The majority of Organisation of African Unity (OAU) members support this position and we should bring our collective influence to bear on King Hassan of Morocco to wake up to the new reality," President Jerry John Rawlings said in Accra during an audience with the SADR foreign minister, Ould Salek. The SADR minister is visiting a number of African countries for consultations on the SADR question, which is likely to come up at next month's OAU Summit in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
Some days before Ould Salek was in Angola and met President Dos Santos.
Derek Fatchett, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, replying to a Labour member of parliament who questioned whether Britain was doing enough to help resolve the Western Sahara dispute, said: "We want to see a clean, fair and transparent referendum (...) Our committment to do all that we can to help underlies our support for the UN Secretary-general, his Special Envoy James Baker and his Special Representative Charles Dunbar". Fatchett listed the numerous diplomatic initiatives taken by his government at various levels in the EU, UN, Morocco, ... He told the parliament he regretted Morocco's refusal to cooperate with the identification of a group of voters listed in the 1974 Spanish census.
Visit of SADR President Abdelaziz in London
Mr Mohamed Abdelaziz visits the United Kingdom on invitation of the Parliamentary Intergroup on Western Sahara and the NGO Western Sahara Campaign. The President assited to a reception hold in the House of Commons, attended by MPs, journalists and NGOs. He will meet members of different political parties and institutions.
Pius Segmueller, 46 years, former chief of the hospital of the Swiss Medical Unit of MINURSO in El Ayoun in 1992-93, has been appointed as commander of the Swiss Papal Guard in Rome.
Abderrahman Benomar is the new Moroccan Ambassador in Mauritania.
At the eve of the OAU summit of Ouagadougou beginning on June 8, Algeria welcomes an eventual return of Morocco in the African organization while repeating its indefectible support of the Saharawi cause. Refering to the will of some supporters of Morocco to exclude the SADR from the OAU, the speaker of the Algerian government declared that the OAU Charter does not allow the exclusion of a regular member.
Salim Ahmed Salim, OAU Secretary-general said the thorny problem of the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic, was not on the agenda. But a growing number of countries have withdrawn their recognition of the SADR, whose 1984 entry into the OAU prompted the departure of founder member Morocco. Host Burkina Faso, which backs Morocco's stand, did not send an invitation to the Saharawi Republic. That was left to the OAU secretariat.
Amnesty International visit to Morocco
An Amnesty International delegation led by its Secretary General Pierre Sané is visiting Morocco from 31 May to 8 June. In the course of this visit Mr Sané is raising the organization's concerns with the Moroccan Government. These concerns, and recommendations on how to address them, are included in a memorandum which has been submitted to the government during the visit.
Amnesty International has on several occasions welcomed positive changes which have taken place in recent years, particularly between 1991 and 1994.
However, serious concerns remain.
The most pressing outstanding concerns which Amnesty International is urging the Moroccan Government to address quickly and effectively include "disappearances". More than 500 people, most of them Sahrawis, who "disappeared" after arrest by the security forces between 1964 and 1987 remain unaccounted for. The organization is also concerned that the families of more than 40 "disappeared" who died in secret detention centres in Agdz, Kalaat M'Gouna and El Ayun have never received death certificates or any other formal acknowledgement that their relatives died in detention or any compensation.
As well, the "disappeared" who were released have not received any compensation for their secret detention, and many continue to live in precarious circumstances. Tazmamert survivors were told not to talk about their experiences and the more than 270 Sahrawis released in 1991 remain virtually cut off from the outside world; many of them are intimidated and some have been held again in short-term secret detention or killed in circumstances suggesting extra-judicial execution.
Torture and ill-treatment, including deaths in custody, reports of torture and ill-treatment continue, not only in pre-trial detention but also in prisons. (fulltext released by Africa News)
International Day of Solidarity with the Disappeared Saharawis
This yearly commeration day is marked by solidarity manifestations in many countries.
The AFAPREDESA (Association of Families of Prisoners and Disappeared Saharawis) remembers in a press release this serious problem and asks all people defending Human Rights to "redouble their efforts so that the disappeared and their families may finally find peace".
Saturday 13 June from 19 h. at Foyer St Boniface, 14 avenue du Mail à Genève, Solidarity meeting organized by the Colectivo de Espanoles en Ginebra and the Swiss Solidarity Committee of support to the Saharawi people.
Ruddy to Address Middle East Institute
Ambassador Frank Ruddy will participate in a Middle East Institute program on Friday, June 19 from noon to 1:30 pm on "Developments in the Western Sahara." This program is open (1761 N. Street, NW, Washington, D.C.).
[Summary Weekly News,] [Western Sahara Homepage]