The Rafto Foundation
Menneskerettighetenes Plass 1, N-5007 BERGEN, NORWAY.
Telephone + 47 55210950
THE RAFTO 2002 AWARD
The Board of the Rafto Foundation has decided to assign Thorolf Raftos memorial award 2002 to Sidi Mohammed Daddach, of Western Sahara. The Rafto Foundations wish with this award is to support the Saharawi peoples struggle for human rights and self - determination. Sidi Mohammed Daddach is a strong symbol for his suffering and their struggle for independence. He stands out as a moderate voice who builds bridges for the future. In spite of having spent more than half his life as a prisoner of conscience, Daddach has never given up the struggle for human rights and dignity.
In November 1975, just before the colonial power Spain pulled out, Western Sahara was invaded and occupied by Morocco. The International Court of Justice in The Hague dismissed in October 1975 Moroccos territorial claim on Western Sahara and reiterated at the same time the Saharawi peoples right to decide their political status. The UN confirmed this in 1991 through Security Council resolution 690 and presented a peace plan in which a referendum was a central element. As part of this, UN personnel were deployed into in the area the same autumn. Today, more than eleven years later, the situation is still deadlocked since Morocco has not respected the UNs demands.
Sidi Mohammed Daddach has in clear terms condemned the colonialist regime that Morocco has imposed on the people of Western Sahara. He has pointed out serious violations of Human Rights, not least the political prisoners' situation and the destiny of the many hundred Saharawis who have "disappeared" since 1975.
Daddach, who is now 45 years old, is the Saharawi who has been the longest imprisoned, all together 24 years. He was first sentenced to death, but the sentence was later commuted to a life sentence. Daddach refused to apply for clemency, but carried out several hunger strikes demanding release for all political prisoners, and that the destiny of the many "disappeared" should be known. Amnesty International recognized Daddach as a prisoner of conscience in 1997, and after pressure from human rights organizations in Western Sahara and internationally he was released on 7th November 2001.
After his release, Daddach has continued his struggle in the occupied Western Sahara. Morocco has lately arrested several of the activists around Daddach and closed the offices of various human rights organizations. His home in Laayoune is now a meeting place for these organizations.
The Rafto Foundation urges the Norwegian authorities to engage themselves more strongly to find a solution to the conflict and underlines that it can only be solved by the Saharawi people being heard through a free, open and just referendum.
Arne Lynngaard, Chairman, The Rafto Foundation
Tel: + 47 95 15 22 90
Ronny Hansen, Coordinator Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara
Tel: + 47 92 80 86 07
Fotos of Daddach: http://photos.groups.yahoo.com/group/Sahara-update/lst
We may also facilitate phone contact with Mr. Sidi Mohammed Daddach