Collective of Saharawi Human Rights defenders in «Western Sahara under Moroccan control»
Special envoy of the UN Secretary General for Western Sahara
Since 31 October 1975 - the date of the forced annexation of Western Sahara by Morocco - the Moroccan state has exercised atrocious repression on Saharawi people claiming their right to self-determination. The campaigns of abduction and arrest have targeted all generations within the Saharawi population from old people to young, women "even pregnant ones", babies and toddlers,... etc. Hundreds of abducted Saharawis still remain in forced disappearance in Moroccan prisons. Their absence accentuated the suffering of their families as a consequence. Dozens of Saharawis have been arrested, ferociously tortured, then taken before Moroccan courts and their trials were unfair. Others were buried alive in mass graves. Dozens of other Saharawis were thrown from helicopters of the Moroccan army. To save their own lives, thousands of Saharawis were obliged to flee the territory of Western Sahara under Moroccan control and to live afterwards in refugee camps in Algerian territory or abroad in disaspora. This is how the Saharawi people has found itself torn apart. Despite this barbaric repression practised by Moroccan authorities, the Saharawi people has never had recourse to terrorist actions to demand respect for their legitimate rights. They have always preferred to count on international law and on the support of the international community to claim respect for their legitimate rights. They are a people who have chosen the proper way to fight. They are a people bearing a message of PEACE.
Since the enforcement of the cease-fire on 6 September 1991, supervised by the UN, Saharawi human rights defenders have never failed to condemn and to make known violations of human rights committed by the Moroccan state against the Saharawi people. In the face of these actions defying the tight military, security and media control in force in the territory of Western Sahara under Moroccan control since 1975, the Moroccan authorities are conducting a campaign of intimidation against these Saharawi defenders of human rights. This is how some of them have come to be deported to Moroccan towns, others have been dismissed unfairly from their jobs, while others again have been arrested arbitrarily, then sentenced, during unfair trials, to heavy prison terms.
Despite the presence of MINURSO in Western Sahara, the Moroccan state still continues to commit human rights abuses in the territory of Western Sahara under Moroccan control. These human rights abuses can only be brought to an end by bringing peace to the region. This peace can only come about through the organisation, under the auspices of the UN, of a free and fair referendum of self-determination allowing Saharawis to express themselves freely on the permanent political status of Western Sahara.
Finally, the UN has a great political and moral obligation to work for the implementation of the process of decolonisation of Western Sahara and this in accordance with the relevant clauses of international law and in particular UN resolution 1514 (XV).
As Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General, please accept the expression of our deep respect
El Ayoun, 12 January 2003 »