WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

 

WEEK 22

30.05.-05.06.1999

 

27.05.99
U.S. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton will be making a second visit to Morocco at the end of June.

28.05.99
Lobbying

The new Moroccan lobbyist in Washington is Palestinian Saba Shami. He began his career in the United States working for the Democratic Party in Virginia. While awaiting the new ambassador, and following a break with the firm Cassidy & Associates, the Moroccan embassy in Washington has created an "internal lobbying cell," to counter the recall of Morocco's friends in Congress." (Maroc-Hebdo International)

29.05.99
Sixth regular sitting of the National Secretariat of the Polisario Front

The National Secretariat, composed of 33 members, conducted a review of government action and concluded that it was generally positive. It congratulated Sahrawi diplomacy's openness to dialogue and compromise "accepting, not without negotiation and serious reserve, all of the UN resolutions." The Secretariat also gave favourable marks to large-scale sanitary projects underway in the liberated zones, the launching of new cultural and informational activities, the improvement in the supply of everyday material and consumer products, etc. But it also criticized ongoing dysfunction in administrative and economic management.
The Secretariat called on the international community to support the UN settlement plan and to guarantee the results. It asked the European Union to use its influence to pressure Morocco to conform to international law and to end its policy of settlement and exploitation of Western Sahara and its resources.
The Secretariat called for the opening of the occupied territories to observers and media. It also applauded recent developments in East Timor and the scheduled referendum "after 24 years of occupation under conditions similar to those under which the Sahrawi continue to live." (SPS full text French )

29.05.99
Kinloch interview
Former president of the Identification Commission and current deputy special representative to the Western Sahara, Robert Kinloch, gave an interview to the Moroccan daily "L'Opinion." He stated that the identification criteria were too complex for the Sahrawi population and that the two parties and the UN must explain to the people their mutual obligations. He added that the list of persons already identified would be released on July 15, followed by a six-week appleals period. Mr. Kinloch said repatriation would take place once the final voter's list has been published, and that the repatriated population would be located close to polling stations.

25.09.99
Paris: Symposium, "Morocco: Constitutional state and forced disappearances"

This seminar brought together the LDH, FIDH and the Coordinating committee to monitor forced disappearances in Morocco, and was organized by the collective "Maroc Solidarité." Moroccan participants took up the issue of the existence and struggle of Sahrawi disappeared. They were thanked by the deputy secretary general of the Friends of the SADR. The president of the French division of AFAPREDESA talked about the 15 years of forced disappearances carried out by Morocco and called on ex-disappeared to file individual claims against Hassan II. The president of the Committees against Moroccan repression declared that the Moroccan regime has not changed and questioned Amnesty International's decision to hold its congress in Morocco, "as this could represent a real propaganda coup for the Moroccan regime."

29.05.-05.06.99
African tour by the Moroccan Prime Minister of African countries favourable to Morocco's annexationist policies, namely Senegla, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea and Burkina Faso, in preparation for the OAU summit.

01.06.99
MINURSO announced the provisions for the identification of potential voters belonging to the three contested tribes, and confirmed June 15 as the beginning date for the operations. They will begin simultaneously in the Smara camp and in El Ayoun and continue in Boujdour, Dakhla (occupied Western Sahara), Goulimine, Tantan, Zagora, Assa-Zag, Taroudant, Rabat and Tata (Morocco), as well as in Nouadhibou and Zouerate (Mauritania). (SPS full text French, MINURSO)

02.06.99
A youth, El Mamoun Omar Lahbit, was stabbed on May 23 by a Moroccan colonist in El Ayoun Playa, a neighbourhood located at the mouth of the Saguia el-Hamra. Violence is perpetrated daily by Moroccan civilians against Sahrawis, adding to the repression carried out by the military and police. The Sahrawi human rights association is calling on MINURSO to investigate this serious incident. (AFAPREDESA)

02.-03.06.99
OAU: Ministerial meeting in Algiers

SADR is represented at this meeting on terrorism prevention, by the Minister of Justice, Hameti Rabani. The ministers must prepare the final text and submit it to the OAU's 36th summit. (SPS full text French )

03.06.99
Context of Mr. Eagleton's tour

The day before Mr. Eagleton, the UN Secretary General's new special representative, arrived in the refugee camps, the official Sahrawi press agency published a critical report on the situation, concluding "The task at hand is difficult but not impossible, as long as the new envoy exercises his full authority as representative of the community of nations and ensures that his mission consists of bringing the settlement process to term, rather than 'managing the conflict' as was the stated purpose of his predecessor." (SPS full text French )

05.06.99
Political talks of Mr Eagleton with the Saharawi Government

Mr William Eagleton hold first political talks with a delegation of the SADR Governement leaded by M'Hamed Khadad, Coordinator with MINURSO, Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bachir Mustafa Sayed, Minister of Interior and the Minister of occupied territories Mahmoud Ali Beyba.
After a visit of the military Museum and the National Hospital, the UN envoy will have dinner with the Prime Minister and the SADR Government and assist to a cultural event.
The second day of visit will take place at the Smara camp with a military parade and a popular reception. On Sunday afternoon Mr Eagleton will meet the SADR President Mohamed Abdelaziz.
The talks will principally turn about voter identification, the crucial point of disagreement between the two parties, Morocco and the POLISARIO Front, despite their understanding on the general outlines of the recent UN resolution.
Mr Eagleton came from Rabat and will pursue his way to El Ayoun on Sunday evening, then he will reach Mauritania on next Wednesday and Algiers on Friday. (SPS full text French)

HUMAN RIGHTS

June 5, 1999: International day of solidarity with the Sahrawi disappeared

AFAPREDESA
In a press release issued on the occasion, AFAPREDESA reviewed its defence of the rights of Sahrawis under Moroccan domination. It highlighted the steps taken by Morocco which has recognized 112 cases of forced disappearances. But the human rights association noted that "the sole objective of the Moroccan government's first timid steps is to rehabilitate its image abroad. Morocco has still not demonstrated its commitment to effect profound changes that would lead to full respect of human rights. How else to explain Morocco's dismissal of cases of Sahrawi forced disappearances, or the persistence of human rights violations in the occupied territories of the Western Sahara?"
AFAPREDESA, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, launched its Campaign 2000 for the liberation of all Sahrawi disappeared and political detainees. It is "urgently calling on human rights NGOs, international bodies and democratic governments to increase their pressure on the Moroccan authorities to respect human rights in Western Sahara." (full text French)

Union of Sahrawi Jurists
The Union of Sahrawi Jurists (USJ) also expressed its concern for human rights violations in the occupied territories of the Western Sahara. It cited the survivors of the secret camps who were freed in 1991 following an international campaign, who are now leading a courageous campaign to have their rights recognized and are "currently under strict control and often placed under house arrest. They have had neither the benefits of health care nor compensation for cruel and degrading treatment during their arbitrary detention." The USJ called on the international community and MINURSO to take a clear stand on the violation of Sahrawis' fundamental human rights in the occupied zones and to demand that the Moroccan government put an end to these crimes against humanity. It is calling on Mr. Roucounas, independent jurist in charge of the issue of prisoners, to visit the occupied territories in Western Sahara, in order to demand clarification of all unresolved cases of disappearance and detention before the referendum is held.
The USJ is also alerting the international community to the issue of landmines in the Western Sahara which seriously threaten the free movement of persons and represent an ongoing danger to the Sahrawi population.
Finally, the USJ states that respect for human rights is an absolute condition for a free and fair referendum.(full text French)

SOLIDARITY

Budapest, 27.05.99: On May 20, the anniversary of the beginning of the Sahrawi struggle, the World Federation of Democratic Youth expressed its solidarity with UJSARIO, the Union of Sahrawi youth. It called for support for a free and fair referendum and for the identification commission, and for an increase in humanitarian aid as well as pressure on the Moroccan government to clarify the situation of the Sahrawi disappeared.

Alicante, 01.06.99: a humanitarian aid convoy left the Alicante port for the refugee camps.

San Vicente, Murcia: will be welcoming 60 Sahrawi children of the 1050 who will be received by the Communauté de Valencia. The children will stay with families in Spain from July to August.

Estepona, Andalucia: The Asociación de Amigos del pueblo Saharaui de Casares thanks all those who contributed to the organized event to raise money for the Sahrawi children's stay.

Denia, Alicante, 05.06.99, Disappeared Sahrawis day: information meeting beginning at 6:00 p.m., followed by a march in the streets to the disappeared commemoration site. Associaciò Comarcal d' ajuda al poble saharaui, e-mail: diongar@arquired.es.

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