Labour Day in Casablanca
A delegation from the Sahrawi coordinating committee for the victims
of forced disappearances participated, alongside Moroccan human
rights organizations, in the Labour Day march in Casablanca. Former
Sahrawi disappeared carried a banner with the following text:
"Sahrawi victims of forced disappareances in Laayoune, Kelaat M'Gouna
and Agdz demand recognition of their rights. 526 Sahrawis are still
disappeared and 57 have died in prison. No to the impunity of those
responsible!" They were also carrying portraits of some of the
disappeared including Jaid Karkoub, El Mehdi Lahsen, Fatimatou
Khandoud, Said Kairaouan. While Moroccan police tried in vain to
prevent them from participating, the organizers of the march welcomed
the group's presence.
Polisario's response to the UN Secretary-General's proposals
In his letter to the UN Secretary-General accepting the latest
proposals, the President of SADR pointed out that "important changes"
have been made to the original texts. These changes involve the
appeals process, whereby oral testimony will now be allowed, while
the original plan only allowed the sheikhs to make oral testimony.
This new provision could open the door to "an infinite number of
appeals" Mohamed Abdelaziz wrote, and a large number of "unjustified
and unjustifiable" appeals. (Sahrawi Ministry of Information)
An editorial in Sahara Libre, a monthly Polisario and SADR newsletter
published in French, Spanish and Arabic, points out that Lisbon
played an important role in Indonesia's recognition of the right to
self-determination in East Timor, and asks, "Could Madrid play a
similar role to encourage Morocco to follow Indonesia's example?"
"All Polisario asks is that the United Nations ensures that Morocco
respect the new timeframe proposed by the UN," stated Polisario's
London representative Brahim Mokhtar in an interview with BBC. He
added that Morocco's failure to do so should lead to sanctions.
Christine Daure-Serfaty, writer, journalist and wife of Abraham
Serfaty, was intercepted upon her arrival at the Rabat airport by
Moroccan policy and put on a plane to Paris. Daure-Serfaty is
prohibited from entering Morocco, according to the official Moroccan
news agency, following her activities with organizations "that
support Polisario separatists" . Mrs Daure has been invited several
time by the Moroccan Prime Minister himself.
The European Union justice commissioner, who received Moroccan
Minister of the Interior Basri on May 5 during his visit to Brussels,
was informed by Abraham Serfaty of the violation of human rights
implicit in his banishment from Morocco and the turning back of his
wife at the Rabat airport.
In a press release, the Moroccan human rights association (AMDH)
states, "in light of the attack on Christine Daure's right to visit
Morocco, which constitutes a violation of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights guaranteeing free internal and external movement, we
condemn this conduct which runs contrary to officials' stated respect
for human rights."
The Moroccan human rights organization (OMDH) states that "the
turning back of Christine Seefaty at the Rabat-Salé airport on
May 4 cannot be dissociated from her husband's situation. The OMDH
therefore restates its demand that the government lift its measures
imposed on Abraham Serfaty and allow him to return to his homeland."
Over 30 Sahrawi graduate students in various Moroccan universities
occupied the Ministry of the Interior from April 29 to May 15, 1999,
to demand their bursaries. Authorities asked the students to end
their strike and promised to provide them with their bursaries at
their respective universities on May 12, 1999. Following long
negotiations between the two parties, the students agreed to return
to their studies and to await their bursaries on the agreed-upon
date. (correspondence from Morocco)
The "Peace for the Sahrawi people" intergroup of the European
Parliament has called on all member countries of the UN and the
international community to put pressure on Morocco to conform to the
UN's provisions to organize a democratic and transparent referendum
in Western Sahara. On the occasion of a plenary meeting of the
European Parliament in Strasbourg on 07.05.99, the intergroup,
chaired by Mr. McGowan, condemned the Moroccan government's policy of
obstruction and its failure to respond positively to the UN
Secretary-General's initiative. The parliamentarians also heard a
report by Swedish member of the European parliament, Veronica Palm,
on her recent trip to the SADR's liberated zones and the Sahrawi
refugee camps. (APS)
ACP-EU* joint meeting in Strasbourg (29.-3.-01.04.99)
Oral question by Ulla Sandbaek, Sweden, I-EDN, to the Commission:
What is the amount of EU development aid to Morocco? Given that
Morocco is illegally occupying the Western Sahara, and that it spent
$1 million a day on this war, how much is it actually spending on the
occupation? What proportion of EU aid is being spent on arms
purchases? Which EU members are selling arms to Morocco? And is this
not in contradiction with the EU's stated policy? Wilfried
Telkaemper, Germany, Green group, asked the Commission and Council a
similar line of questions. Contrary to the rules, both bodies chose
not to answer these questions.
* Agreements of African, Caribbean, Pacific countries
with European Union
European Parliament (14.04.99)
Question to the European Union Council:
Maj Britt Theorin, Sweden, PSE, asked how the Council justifies EU
economic aid to Morocco while Morocco occupies the Western Sahara.
The parliamentarian also asked how the Council is contributing to the
implementation of the UN Peace Plan.
The acting chairman of the Council, Verheugen, answered verbally that
the EU is closely following the Western Sahara question and pointed
out Morocco's positive decisions with respect to the status of the
HCR and MINURSO's military forces. "There is no reason to question EU
economic aid to Morocco," he stated. The Council will exercise the
political pressure necessary to ensure that the conflict will be
resolved soon and will make decisions as the situation develops.
The Commission stated in a written response that it is closely
following the development of the conflict and fully supports the UN's
efforts. It is also making an important contribution to humanitarian
aid to Sahrawi refugees. It stressed that financial aid to Morocco is
an integral part of Euro-Mediterranean cooperation and is not a
substitute to the UN Peace Plan.
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