AMINATOU HAIDAR'S TESTIMONY ON HER DISAPPEARANCE
El Ayoun 12/12/2002
I am a young Saharawi, former disappeared, my name is AMINATOU ALI AHMED HAIDAR, born in 1967.
Everything started on that terrible night of 21 November 1987 when policemen dressed in plain clothes woke me up abruptly. At first I thought I was having a nightmare but the days and years which followed showed me that the real and terrible nightmare is that which I was forced to endure for 3 years and 7 months, in the company of 70 Saharawis, including 16 women. They also had been kidnapped in similar circumstances.
We had been abducted by Moroccan police in plain clothes the day before the visit of the United Nations Technical Committee. This is why my group was thereafter known as « the Committee Group »
It's at the age of 20 years that my long journey to the end of hell begins. First in the secret place PC CMI ( (Compagnie d'Intervention Mobile/Mobile intervention company) in El Ayoun. My body is only a heap of flesh and bones attached to a plank, head down, hands and feet tied securely in front, the police begin to practise systematic methods of torture and other cruel and degrading treatment. This makes some fun for my tormenters. They began to torture me from the first instant I arrived in the special place for interrogation where torture has one dimension : slaps, kicks, insults, threats of rape... The more I resisted, the more the methods of torture diversify and sadism attains its heights : rags impregnated with chemical products (detergents or other strong substances), blows, electric shocks, cold showers... etc
This situation lasted nearly two days before I was transferred to another secret detention centre « EL BIR barracks », being near the beach of El Ayoun, where I spent a whole week in a room 2m x 2m (with 16 women), blindfolded, gagged, starved of food and water, awake facing the wall, most of the time standing up, we stayed like this until we received a new order.
After a week, I was taken back to PC CMI where I was subjected to tough questioning (torture, insults ... etc) for nearly three weeks.
After this interminable stage, suffering began which lasted four years : blindfolded so that one lost all notion of time and place. Living in inhuman and unbearable conditions. Food which left much to be desired, full of all sorts of insects. My clothes were dirty, ragged, after all these years, I couldn't even wash myself !!
Among other things, the lice, various illnesses. As it happens two months after my detention, I suffered a skin allergy and conjunctivitis because of the dirt. After six months I began to suffer from gastric complaints, which caused me pain and haemorrhoids from which I suffered greatly until I was operated on in July 1994. By the way, I let you know that I was also operated on in 1991 (just after my release) because of my painful back trouble from which I still suffer. Despite the fact that my health required serious treatment, I remain without a passport, the Moroccan authorities refuse to issue it, this is its number : DE 178 702 it was taken from me by the police when I was abducted.
Furthermore, at the time of my arrest, I was preparing my baccalaureat in experimental science (and I was brilliant), I had been arrested without being judged, only because I held principles to which I am still attached, like that, quite simply I couldn't carry on with my studies, which I would like to have done to achieve my dreams, to ensure my future...but the Moroccan authorities wanted things to be otherwise, and I was disappointed.
19 JUNE 1991 is the day of my liberation. The first day of summer and a music festival elsewhere. I am liberated, I was only a shadow of myself. A phantom, one of the living dead, a young girl out of a nameless hell !!
Today, I have not recovered from CMI, over ten years have passed and I still feel on I'm living a marginal life, on the outskirts of society, it's as if I have never been rehabilitated, especially when I happen to pass one of my former torturers in the street, I see them almost on a daily basis in the traffic. Recently, exactly on 21/11/2002 (15th anniversary of my arrest), a traffic policeman stopped me at 8.30 am on my journey to my children's school. He asked me for information beyond his duties, I completely refused to reply, after a long conversation, he assured me that he has had instructions to arrest me for several days, that is after the departure of my two friends Michèle Decaster and Afifa Karmous, I decided to lodge a complaint with the following number : 148/ 25.11.2002.
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that I am the object of pursuit and intimidations and that I benefit from no care or compensation for the cruel and degrading treatment to which I was subjected during my arbitrary detention.
As for indemnification, I oppose the truth, all the truth because my wounds are still inscribed in my memory.
Finally, I would like to affirm that since 1975 and in the absence of any mediation on an international level, the different forces making up the security service in Morocco (DST, RG, PJ, FAR ) have been acting illegally in Western Sahara, through waves of abduction, arrest and intimidation.
These repressive campaigns have targeted innocent persons of both sexes and different ages. To this day the fate of a large number of Saharawis is unknown...
Finally the Moroccan authorities have started this third millennium with a new kind of abduction, by proceeding with hasty trials against innocent Saharawis.
Dear friends, in sending you this testimony, I wish through you to inform public opinion about our deplorable situation, hoping that you will put pressure on the Moroccan authorities to reach a proper, objective settlement of the issue of human rights.
On this occasion, I launch an urgent appeal to the international community and to the United Nations Mission for a Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) to take a clear decision on the abuse of the fundamental rights of the Saharawis living in the territories of the Sahara under Moroccan responsibility, to demand that the Moroccan government put an end to these crimes against humanity.,
I take advantage of this occasion to pay tribute to all those who support human rights and encourage them to pursue their noble action, until human rights are respected throughout the world.
Before finishing this testimony, I beg all those interested in the defence of human rights to do everything possible to throw light on all the cases of the disappeared and detainees in uncertainty before the holding of the referendum.
Finally, please accept dear friends, my most sincere wishes for the best and greatest success and I thank you for all your efforts made for our cause for which I am ready to sacrifice my life should an obstacle arise.
El Ayoun, 12/12-2002