Bir Lehloo, September 24, 1999 *
H.E. Mr Kofi Annan,
Secretary-General of the United Nations
New York, NY 10016
I am writing to your Excellency with regard to recent developments of the situation in Western Sahara, related to the brutal violation of human rights and lack of protection of our civilian population in the occupied territories.
During the third week of September 1999, a large group of Saharawis, in protest against the Moroccan repressive policy, and in defense of their basic human rights, gathered in front of the Hotel where the MINURSO is residing in El Aaiun. The group, which included high number of women, young's and cheikhs, sought to draw the attention of the United Nations on their situation. However, and despite the fact that the MINURSO has been informed, it has chosen not to intervene, and it ignored the group's requests for protection from persecution by the Moroccan police.
On September 22, 1999 late in the night, the Moroccan police and special forces intervened with tear gas and water pumps against the peaceful demonstration. On the 23, the Moroccan forces carried out a brutal intervention against the demonstrators, using live ammunition. Many have suffered severe wounds, and a high number was detained and a campaign of intimidation and persecution against the demonstrators and their families is currently underway.
We believe that this new scale of brutalities undertaken by the Moroccan occupying forces in the Western Sahara at the doorsteps of the MINURSO demonstrates not only the continuation of a repressive policy against innocent civilians but also a very serious challenge to the United Nations' Mission in the Territory.
This irresponsdible behaviour joined to the provocative use of the appeal process, could certainly put into question the prospect of the holding of a free and fair referendum and, therefore, it must not remain unanswered. The seeds of a bloody East Timor scenario are presently in Western Sahara, and we must act promptly to avoid it when is still time.
I therefore call on you to intervene so that an end be put to the Moroccan arbitrary actions against the most basic human rights of the Sahaharwi civilian population living under Moroccan occupation. I am confident that the Security Council will receive from your Excellency an appropriate account regarding these tragic events.
I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to your Excellency the expression of my respect and esteem.* This letter replaces the draft anterior version
Secretary-General of the POLISARIO Front
President of the Saharawi Republic