WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

 

WEEK 46

14.-20.11.1999

13.11.99
Interview
«Whether Driss Basri is dismissed or not, that is a detail for us. That is not the change that we are waiting for. We are expecting the new king of Morocco to show that he wants peace, and that he wants to put an end to the Moroccan expansionist policy it has been pursuing until now against our country», the Saharawi Minister of Foreign Affairs, M. Ould Salek, pointed out. (
El Watan).

13.11.99
Spain, Canary Islands
Illegal immigration coming from Southern Morocco and from Western Sahara is growing with 450 arrivals in Fuerteventura in the month of October alone. Investigating in Tarfaya (Southern Morocco), a Spanish journalist revealed that among the immigrants there are a number of Saharawis close to the Polisario Front, such as the two sisters of the Saharawi Minister of Foreign Affairs. They had been imprisoned for 17 years in Morocco, with their parents, only because of their relationship to the Saharawi minister. (
El Mundo).
Other journalists investigating on the ground uncovered the workings of a real traffic in illegal immigration. The majority of the would-be immigrants meet in Beni Mellal, a hundred kilometres from Marrakech, from there they are taken by bus to El Ayoun. Accommodated in hotels, they are then directed to the embarkation points at Sidi Ifni, Ouad Amma Fatma, 100 km to the south of Tan-Tan, Amgraw, 25 km to the north of El Ayoun port or La Palangana, 25 km south of El Ayoun. In Fuerteventura they are given the documents they need to get into Europe. (
El Pais).

14.11.99
Germany
A manifesto of solidarity with the victims of the repression in El Ayoun, demanding a commission of inquiry and reaffirming their support of the UN Peace Plan was published by six German NGOs: Terre des Hommes Germany, Medico international, Kritische Oekologie (Critical Ecology), Gemeinschaft für Menschenrechte im Freistaat Sachsen (Association for Human Rights in Freestate Saxony), die Falken (Falcons) and the Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker (Society for threatened Peoples). Similar appeals were addressed to Mr Kofi Annan and to the German Minister for Foreign Affairs by several German parliamentarians and well-known public figures.

14.11.99
Anniversary of the Madrid Accords
About fifty members of the Association of Friends of the Saharawi People in León met in León to protest about the new delay in the referendum in Western Sahara. About twenty people did the same in Valencia..

16.11.99
Confrontations in Tan-Tan
Demonstrations for the right to work and dignity degenerated into confrontations with the police, causing considerable material damage. This city in Southern Morocco, including a large Saharawi population, is the scene of repeated demonstrations following the example of those in El Ayoun. Discontent is particularly keen following unkept promises after the visit on 3 November of a ministerial delegation, during which Basri was set aside.

15 & 17.11.99
Sentences
On 15 November, the court in El Ayoun sentenced 23 Saharawi demonstrators arrested during the events of 22-23 September last in El Ayoun. Several relatives of the accused and hundreds of sympathisers were prevented from being present at the hearing by police forces who formed a security cordon around the court building. Two days later 23 other people, arrested in October, appeared before the court. Twelve sentences of eighteen months in secure prison were handed down, while three further people received three year suspended sentences. (
SPS).

15.11.99
Fall of Basri (continued)
The investigation concerning the fire in the DST brought to light that the accounts destroyed would have proved the systematic misappropriation, over 20 years, of more than a half of the annual budget of the DST (Moroccan counter-espionage). An investigation is also under way on the misappropriation of funds destined for the Sahara, of which only a part ever reached the intended recipients. The rest had been used either for buying off notable Saharawis or had disappeared into the pockets of corrupt civil servants. (
El Periodico)
A list of about thirty people has been issued to Moroccan border posts, in order to prevent them from leaving the country. Among them the names of Mahmoud Archane, ex-police superintendant known as a torturer, an MP and president of the MDS Party, Fayçal Elmeziani, governor of Boujdour (Western Sahara) and Mohamed Azmi, ex-coordinator with MINURSO are to be noted.
Further, the directors of the official agency MAP and the first TV station, TVM, have been dismissed.
A complaint has been lodged against the recently sacked Minister of the Interior in the Belgian courts by a Moroccan of Belgian nationality, held and tortured in Morocco by the DST in 1984.

17.11.99
Assassination
The body of a Saharawi citizen, Yahdhih Ould Sreissir, reported missing for over a month, was found on Thursday, 4 November, in the region of Kdeyat Sbaa, between Guelta Zemmour and Boucraa. The deceased had had his throat cut. The SPS, which reported this information, indicated that the victim had had a dispute several days before his disappearance with the commanding colonel of the 59th Battalion of the Moroccan Army, stationed in the region of Guelta Zemmour, following the theft of part of his herd of camels by the colonel. (
SPS).

18.11.99
Occupied Territories
The Saharawi agency SPS, quoting reliable sources, announced that a colony of Moroccan settlers to the south of Dakhla, consisting of 70,000 fishermen, wishes to settle permanently. These settlers, who have already been there for several years could stay within the infrastructures put in place in the region "to receive the refugees during the referendum".
Meanwhile the campaign of forced conscription of young Saharawis into the Moroccan army in Western Sahara and Southern Morocco carries on. The figure of over 500 young people from El Ayoun and Dakhla alone is given.(
SPS)

19.11.99
Referendum
Representatives from Associations of solidarity with the Saharawi People from various regions of Spain entered the UN Information Centre in Madrid to hand to the official in charge a communiqué, in which they denounce the repression suffered by the Saharawi population in the occupied territories, as well as the obstacles to the Peace plan raised by Morocco. Referring to the precedent in East Timor, they call on the United Nations and the international community to give proof of a firm and decisive attitude. The demonstrators chained themselves to the spot until they had been able to give their message to the official in charge, who promised to hand it on to the Secretary General.
This high profile action signals the beginning of a national campaign for the referendum of self-determination, to demand of the UN the implementation of the Peace Plan according to the timetable and in the best conditions. Hunger strikes started on 19.11.99 in Andalusia and in the Basque country. Lasting for three days, they will link up following a precise timetable throughout all the autonomous regions of Spain. Public personalities, parliamentarians and many militants for the Saharawi cause have announced their participation. The action will culminate with a joint hunger strike in Madrid on 11.12.99, some days before the Security Council decides on the future of the Peace Plan.

19.11.99
Demonstrations
Some hundred Saharawi students from Rabat, Casablanca, Agadir, Fès, Tétouan, Marrakech joined by formed prisoners of Tazmamart and Kalaat M'Gouna manifestated in Rabat against the speedy trialss and repression in the occupied territories. Their protest march through the city concluded with a sit-in before the Ministry of Justice. There is also another protest going on at Assa since 4 days with the same goals. The saharawi inhabitants of Zak manifested their solidarity with the protesters of Rabat and Assa. (
SPS)

20.11.99
Repatriation
The UN Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees (HCR), Soren Jessen-Petersen, is undertaking a tour of the region. He will go first to Algiers, then to Tindouf and El Ayoun and will finish his five-day trip in Rabat. He will meet officials of the Polisario Front and Algerian and Moroccan ministers.

SOLIDARITY

Cards
The Grenada Association of Friends of the Sahara is offering eight greeting cards illustrated with photos by Luis Bonete, proceeds will go to humanitarian aid for the Saharawi people. For further details:
http://www.arrakis.es/~saharagr
The Swiss Committee of Support for the Saharawi People also has a series of 6 postcards costing 500 ptas or FS 5. Further details from:
baesch@giub.unibe.ch or stefanie.gass.1@sm-philhist.unibe.ch

12.11.99, Lorquí, Murcia: The Associations of Friends of the Saharawi People of Molina de Segura and of Lorquí organised an exhibition of Saharawi arts and crafts.

13.11.99, Melilla: The Youth of the Melilla People's Union have collected food and health products for the Saharawi refugees.

13.11.99, Armentia, Alava, Basque country: the Basque caravan consisting of 12 all-terrain vehicles, an ambulance, four buses, two water tankers, a mobile workshop carrying a radio studio and 1300 pairs of shoes set off for the Saharawi refugee camps. It will join up with other convoys of the same type in Alicante to travel on to Oran.

"Quote of the week:

"Mr. Basri's sacking was more significant than an ordinary settling of scores between the old guard and the new. Even so, important questions remain. Does the minister's demise herald a transition towards a liberal democracy - or will it merely give the makhzen a facelift? The answer, probably, lies somewhere in between. " The Economist, London, 13.11.99."

INTERNET : NEW on the WSC UK webpage

The 25th European Conference on Co-ordination of Support for the Saharawi People, Las Palmas, Gran Canaria , Including the text of the Final Resolution

NEW PUBLICATIONS
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