WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

 

WEEK 40

03.-09.10.1999

 

Correction
The resolution tabled on September 16, 1999 by 11 Italian parliamentarians to the Parliament's Foreign Affairs Commission, was presented but has not yet been voted on.

29.09.99
Australia

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, replied to written questions from Anthony Albanese, Labour MP. Mr. Downer outlined that the Australian Government, "continues to monitor the human rights situation in the Western Sahara as part of its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights internationally." Regarding the UN plan the Minister added, "Australia has joined consensus on the UN General Assembly Resolution on the question of Western Sahara which stresses the importance of full, fair and faithful implementation of the settlement plan and the agreements aimed at its implementation".

01.10.99
Amesty International urgent action

AI is urging that messages be sent inquiring into the fate of the students and other Sahrawis imprisoned in El Ayoun, and demanding that the Morrocan authorities conduct an investigation into allegations of torture and poor treatment perpetrated by the security forces and that all detainees be freed (contact:
sharriso@aiusa.org).

02.10.99
A delegation made up of members of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Armed Forces Commission of the French Senate, led by its Chairman Xavier de Villepin, carried out an information gathering visit in El Ayoun and at the MINURSO headquarters.

02.10.99
President Mohamed Abdelaziz asked Pope John-Paul II for an "urgent intervention to alleviate the suffering of innocent, defenceless Sahrawis" who were savagely treated by Moroccan security forces in September in Western Sahara's occupied territories.

04-05.10.99
UN, 4th Commission

When the 4th Commission addressed the agenda item "Questions of Decolonization," Abdallah Baali, ambassador and Algeria's permanent representative to the UN, reiterated the Sahrawi peoples' right to self-determination and expressed the hope that the East Timorese experience will show the way and reveal the obstacles to be avoided in order to ensure a free, independent and peaceful referendum.
Polisario's representative to the UN, Mohamed Boukhari, outlined the various steps in the identification process and the obstacles repeatedly thrown up by Morocco, then expressed his disappointment that the implementation schedule had been postponed once again, as a result of the large number of appeals submitted by Morocco. He stressed the importance of guaranteeing voter safety and freedom in order to ensure a free vote, and raised the issue of the recent wave of violence in the occupied territory. He reiterated the need for the UN to put into place mechanisms that will ensure people's safety before and after the referendum and that will guarantee the referendum results.
The Moroccan ambassador to the UN, Ahmed Snoussi, stated, "Unfortunately, we are increasingly convinced that we are heading into a bizarre referendum that will not be very democratic or equitable."
Interventions were also made by: Ramon Orfila y Pons, of the Federación Estatal de Instituciones Solidarias con el Pueblo Saharaui d'Espagne, Felipe Briones, of the International Association of Jurists for the Western Sahara and Jean-Paul Lecoq, mayor of Gonfreville L'Orcher, France.

05.10.99
Statement

Radio France International broadcast a statement by SADR President Mohamed Abdelaziz regarding the recent riots in El Ayoun. He stated that when a colonial power occupies a country, social demands cannot be divorced from political ones. People use any and all means at their disposal to make themselves heard. The demonstrators in El Ayoun hid neither their identities nor their differences. They clearly stated their support for independence. Their movement will continue. He hopes the new Moroccan authorities understand this.

05.10.99
Landmines

A team of U.S. experts has spent a week scouring parts of northern Mauritania for landmines, relics of the conflict over the disputed Western Sahara.

06.10.99
El Ayoun

In response to directions handed down from the King, a six-member ministerial delegation was sent to El Ayoun, in the wake of the violence there over the past few weeks. Made up of Driss Basri, Minister of State, Minister of the Interior, Mohamed Benaissa, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Khalid Alioua, Minister of Social Development, Solidarity, Employment and Professional Training, government spokesperson, Mustapha Mansouri, Minister of Transport and the Merchant Marine, Najib Zérouali, Minister of Higher Education, Leadership Training and Scientific Training and Ahmed Lahlimi, Minister delegated by the Prime Minister responsible for general government business. The delegation, housed in municipal offices, received various groups who expressed their discontent (students, the disabled, unemployed graduates, residents of the Unités camps, etc.). The delegation promised to build more housing and other facilities.

07.10.99
Solidarity

Students from Marrakech and Casablanca organized protest demonstrations in solidarity with the victims of recent events in the occupied territories, especially in El Ayoun.

07.10.99
Reprisals

Some 100 Sahrawi youths in El Ayoun (occupied Western Sahara), Tan-Tan and Asa (southern Morocco) were forcibly recruited into the Moroccan army and the "Mekhzen" and transferred to Agadir (SPS).

07.10.99
SADR

The Council of Ministers called on the Moroccan government to lift obstacles to the peace plan. It also issued an urgent appeal to the international community and human rights advocates to guarantee the protection of civilians who are peacefully expressing their legitimate demands (SPS).

07.10.99
President Mohamed Abdelaziz "shares in the rejoicing over the return of Moroccan dissident Abraham Serfaty to his mother country" and on behalf ofthe Sahrawi people expressed his recognition of a Moroccan brother who has taken great personal risk (SPS).

08.10.99
Solidarity

The Spanish Youth Council and the Sahrawi Youth Union (UJSARIO) are organizing a visit to the refugee camps from October 8 to 13. The goal of the visit, which will involve 18 delegates from various youth organizations, is to prepare an international corps of youth observers for the referendum.

09.10.99
Solidarity

There has been growing international outcry to the violent repression of the recent demonstrations. To cite just a few examples: Demonstrations were held in Spain, including in Barcelona on 07.10.99; and in Cantabrica and Madrid in front of the Moroccan embassy on 09.10.99. Their slogan: End the repression now. We do not want another East Timor.
Municipalities twinned with Western Saharan towns also launched appeals, while national and regional solidarity associations, political parties and others issued press releases and appeals in Spain, Germany, Japan, Australia, Hungary, Portugal and elsewhere. We also received notice of many letters sent to Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

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