WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

 

WEEK 18

02.-08.05.1999

 

01.05.99
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.

02.05.99
Polisario's response to the UN Secretary-General's proposals
(french)
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)

02.05.99
East Timor

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?"

03.05.99
Declaration
(french)
"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.

04.05.99
Human Rights
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.
Reactions:
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."

06.05.99
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)

Europe

European Parliament
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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