WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

 

WEEK 25

20.-26.06.1999

 

16-17.06.99
President Mohamed Abdelaziz was present for the inauguration of South African President Thabo Mbeki (Sahrawi Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

19.06.99
BBC correspondent in Morocco, Nick Pelham, was turned away at Ceuta, on the Moroccan-Spanish border. Certain political circles in Morocco have qualified his articles and correspondence as "insulting, defamatory and false." The next day Moroccan authorities lifted the expulsion order. (AFP)

20.06.99
In a press release issued on the anniversary of the Zemla uprising, AFAPREDESA raised questions about "the silence of the Spanish government," responsible for the massacre of Sahrawi civilians during a peaceful demonstration in Zemla, a neighbourhood in El Ayoun, on June 17, 1970, and the disappearance since then of Mohamed Basiri, leader of the "Vanguard organization for the liberation of Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro." the precursor to the Polisario Front. The Sahrawi human rights organization is demanding that the Spanish government "explain the fate of Mohamed Basiri."

20.06.99
Identification, week one

During week one of identification, 523 applicants were questioned, 413 in El Ayoun, 110 in the Smara wilaya. Two new stations, in Tan-Tan and Goulimine (southern Morocco), were opened this week. Chioukh and Sahrawi observers were the target of harassment by applicants, and Moroccan authorities prevented family members from having any contact with them. CIVPOL was able to prevent any major incidents.(SPS).

20.06.99
Repression

Moroccan police cracked down on a demonstration by 35 unemployed Sahrawi graduates demanding work. Two people were injured, Bachir Toubali and an unidentified young girl, and two others arrested, El Alem Mohamed and Emjid M´Hamed. AFAPREDESA has called on MINURSO to intervene to free the prisoners and to conduct an inquiry into this latest violation of human rights.

21.06.99
Mr. Eagleton called his meetings with Sahrawi President Mohamed Abdelaziz "fruitful" and "encouraging." In a letter to the Sahrawi President, dated June 15, 1999, Mr. Eagleton thanked the President for laying the groundwork for the repatriation of Moroccan prisoners of war "liberated by the Polisario Front in March 1997 on humanitarian grounds, during Mr. Baker's visit to the Sahrawi refugee camps." (SPS)

21.06.99
European Union Presidency Statement

The European Union reiterates its "full support for the Settlement Plan proposed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations for Western Sahara." It hopes "that the proposals can now be implemented without further delay in line with the deadlines set out in the Secretary-General's report of 28 April. Concerning the return of the refugees the EU stresses "that the return of the refugees in accordance with the principles of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is a key element of the Settlement Plan." It welcomes the ongoing talks of both parties with the UNHCR and hopes that these consultations will soon lead to the conclusion of agreements which will allow the necessary measures to be taken for the return of the refugees. Concerning the prisoners of war, the Union expresses "its hope that all parties concerned will do their utmost in order to find a solution to this humanitarian problem in the near future and restates its full support for the efforts undertaken in this connection by the International Committee of the Red Cross."(full text)

21.06.99
Ghana's Vice-President, John Atta Mills, granted audience to Mohamed Salerm Ould Salek, Foreign Minister of the SADR and assured him of Ghana's continued support through the end of the territory's struggle for freedom. Salek called with a message from SADR President Abdelaziz, inviting President Jerry John Rawlings to visit the territory. He called for Ghana's intervention to lobby other countries like Nigeria to support the cause (PANA).

21.06.99
5th conference of Interior Ministers of western Mediterranean countries

Representatives from France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Libya met in Algiers and addressed the issues of organized crime, drug trafficking and illegal immigration. Driss Basri stated his desire to take this opportunity to address bilateral relations between Algeria and Morocco. He was received the next day by the Algerian President. Following the meeting, Basri stated that steps are currently "underway, on both sides, to normalize Algerian-Moroccan relations." (APS)

22.06.99
UN

The special committee in charge of studying the implementation of the declaration on granting independence to colonial countries and peoples, discussed the Western Sahara and East Timor in New York. A statement was made on the topic by a representative of the POLISARIO, Mulud Saïd. He said the Western Sahara peace plan had been altered by Morocco's attempt to turn the referendum into a plebiscite to legitimize its occupation. The last 20 years had allowed Morocco to strengthen its occupation, drastically alter the demographic composition of the Territory and step up its repression of the people who had been there before the occupation. Real gains had been made in the Houston Agreements, which POLISARIO and Morocco had negotiated under the auspices of James A. Baker III, the Secretary-General's Representative for Western Sahara. However, there was no doubt that the decolonization of Western Sahara had yet to be carried out. Said mentioned the similarity between the two issues, and called on the UN to exert all efforts toward settlement of conflicts. The Committee decided to transmit all the relevant documents on the issue to the General Assembly for consideration at its fifty-fourth session.(U.N Press rel.)

22.06.99
US Senate

The US Senate approved an amendment on the State Department Reauthorization Bill, requiring the Secretary of State to report regularly to the relevant Congressional Committees on all specific measures taken by the Moroccan government and the Polisario Front to guarantee a free, fair and transparent referendum for self-determination of Western Sahara. The reports should include a detailed description of preparations for the referendum, with the guarantees of free access to the territory by representatives of independent international organisations, including international media and observers. The reports should also mention efforts made by the State Department to guarantee that the referendum is held on the date set in the time-table proposed by the UN secretary-general, as well as an assessment of strict compliance with the July 2000 deadline. The Senate also demanded that the State Department make a detailed description of obstacles to the process of voter registration and efforts made by the US government to overcome such obstacles. It also requested an assessment of progress made in refugee repatriation operations.(S.886, 106 Cong.,1st Sess)

23.06.99
Statement

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, stating that "Morocco has illegally occupied the former Spanish colony since 1975" declared that "A solution to the conflict over Western Sahara will enhance security and stability in Northern Africa. After more than ten years of delay, the people of the Western Sahara should be permitted to determine for themselves who will govern them." Kennedy, Republican Senator Gordon Smith and Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy sponsored the amendment accepted by the Senate. "Morocco has been a faithful ally of the United States for more than 200 years," said Kennedy, "but its refusal to allow the people of the Western Sahara to determine their own political future undercuts America's efforts to promote democracy worldwide."

23.06.99
British Parliament

Early Day Motion 745 welcomes the agreement by the Polisario Front and the Government of Morocco on the United Nations Secretary-General's timetable and calls on Her Majesty's Government to reintroduce its contingent to the United Nations Mission for the referendum in Western Sahara. Presently signed by 69 deputees.

24.06.99
Human rights

Twelve young Sahrawis, between the ages of 12 and 14, arrested for writing slogans and sporting tattoos in favour of independence, were brought before the courts in El Ayoun (see week 23, 11.06.99). Seven of them were sentenced to several years of "reeducation" in youth centres in Casablanca, 1300 km away from where they live, while the other five were freed.

The seven who were sentenced:

  1. Oumaima el Moussaoui Mint Fadli
  2. Lahcen el Moussaoui
  3. El Kentaouya Mint Abdati Ould Babite
  4. Labihate el Ghay Lani
  5. F'Daili Zerouali
  6. El Haimar Moulay Brahim
  7. Brika el Bachra

The five who were freed:

  1. Bahidi Ould el Mostapha Ould el Bachir
  2. El Ayachi Ould Mohamed Mouloud Ould Ettaqi
  3. E. Ghalya el Moussaoui Mint Fadli
  4. Boutabaa Fatma
  5. Bouchana Abdallah

24.06.99
Public statement by Amnesty International.

In a statement A.I confirms its International Council Meeting could not take place in August in Morocco as scheduled. Regretting the decision of the Moroccan authorities AI considers it "a missed opportunity for human rights promotion in Morocco." No clear reason has been provided but references have been made by various Moroccan authorities to public events planned for the ICM (about human rights violations in Morocco) , disrespectful statements made by AI and the recent report "Morocco / Western Sahara "Turning the Page": Achievements and Obstacles".
In the French newspaper Le Monde of June 25, J.-P. Tuquoi adds another reason :"In June 1998, the Secretary General of Amnesty, Pierre Sané, went to Morocco to open the headquarters of the local section of AI. During a closed-door meeting in a hotel among Amnesty officials, statements were made which were recorded, unbeknownst to them. The recordings were transmitted to the King, who is said to have been very angry by what he heard, as the recordings apparently contained some unfortunate statements."

24.06.99
Bundestag resolution

The German parliament unanimously adopted a resolution expressing support for the peace agreement, and calling on the government to exercise its influence on the parties, especially Morocco, to prevent any further delays to the process, and to maintain its involvement in MINURSO.

26.06.99
The International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

On this day, the Sahrawi Union of Jurists pointed out that Moroccan authorities continue, with impunity, to make arbitrary arrests and forced disappearances, and to conduct unfair trials of Sahrawi citiznes in the occupied zones of Western Sahara. The Union called on MINURSO to intervene immediately in the recent arrests and sentencing of Sahrawi school children and demonstrators. (press release)

COMING UP...

28.06.99: Report of UN Secretary-general.

Asociación Granadina de Amigos de la R.A.S.D. y Ayuntamiento de Peligros organiza: 03.07.99, Peligros, Granada: III Sáhara Rock 1999. Sábado 3 de Julio. 21:00 h. Estadio Municipal "Antonio Bailon". En directo: A Palo Seko, Tatanka, NatSat, S.D.G., Luis Ricardo Burriquero y su amigo el farfollas. Entrada: 600 ptas. anticipada. 800 ptas. en taquilla.Más información: http://www.arrakis.es/~saharagr
Lega dei Diritti dei Popoli:
Dal 29 luglio al 31 agosto 1999 ECOSY (i giovani socialisti europei) e la Sinistra Giovanile organizzano a Livorno un campeggio con la presenza anche di alcuni giovani Saharawi. Inoltre, alla Festa dell'Unità di Livorno di questa estate ci saranno delle iniziative di sensibilizzazione alla causa Saharawi, il programma seguira.

NEW PUBLICATIONS

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

You wish to receive regularly the weekly news by e-mail ?

 

Subscribe to western sahara news

Enter your e-mail address:

western-sahara-news archive

An e-group hosted by eGroups.com

[Summary Weekly News,] [Western Sahara Homepage]