A quarter century of solidarity

XXVIth European Conference of Support To the Saharawi People

Brussels 24, 25 and 26 November 2000




Meeting in Brussels and La Roche en Ardenne (Borzée) on 24, 25 and 26 November 2000, the 26th Conference of Support to the Saharawi People brought together 325 delegates from the following countries: Algeria, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lesotho, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Venezuela, Western Sahara.

These 25 years of solidarity - political support, defence of human rights, raising public awareness, of mutual information exchange and help - have been the occasion of important work, but likewise of celebration and reaffirmation of unfailing attachment to the just cause of the Saharawi people and their inalienable right to independence through a referendum of self-determination organised and controlled by the United Nations.

The Conference welcomed a large delegation from the Polisario Front, led by its Secretary General, Mohamed Abdelaziz, and was formally opened in the presence of Presidents and Vice-Presidents of Intergroups for Peace for the Saharawi People of the European Parliament, of Belgium and of Sweden, of Ambassadors from Lesotho, Algeria, Cuba, Burundi, Costa Rica, Ghana, Nigeria, Madagascar, Mauritania and the OAU, as well as numerous Belgian personalities, representatives of Moroccan associations and the political scientist, Ahmed Benani. A delegation of many Algerian associations, led by Mrs Saïda Benhabyles, joined in the work. The conference, after having examined recent developments in the negotiations held in Europe (London and Berlin) by the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General, Ambassador James Baker, regards it as a positive sign that the Security Council should have reaffirmed on 30 October 2000, "full support for the continued efforts exerted by the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) to implement the Settlement Plan and agreements adopted by the parties to hold a free, fair and impartial referendum for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara".

The Conference denounces the strategy of the new King Mohamed VI, which consists in a systematic refusal of the implementation of the peace plan and calls on the UN for a strict implementation of the Houston Agreements in order to permit the definitive timetable and its stages to be fixed leading to a referendum of self-determination for the Saharawi people. The UN cannot let itself be dictated to by Morocco's allied powers in favour of a pseudo-solution, which is moving away from a popular consultation and the respect of the rights of the Saharawi people to decide its own destiny. Since it is a question of decolonisation no proposal can be substituted for the strict respect of international law and the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and of the Security Council of the United Nations, which remain the only proper framework for a just and lasting solution to the conflict in Western Sahara which respects the free expression of the Saharawi people.

The Conference is concerned by the "neither war nor peace" situation and by the absence MINURSO's progress as it is a situation of denial of humanitarian rights of the Saharawi civil populations, which is also prone to many violations of human rights and economic and social rights of the Saharawi population in the territories occupied by the Moroccan occupation forces.

Europe, France and Spain in particular, should abandon their attitude of false neutrality which translates, in fact, as direct complicity with Morocco. In the name of giving support to a democratic opening in Morocco, Europe lends direct support to Moroccan intransigence concerning the self-determination of the last colonised people of Africa.

Europe must get Spain to denounce the Madrid Accords of November 1975, and stop concluding agreements with Morocco which violate the integrity and the resources of Western Sahara. It should become actively engaged with the OAU and the UN in order to contribute to the construction of a re-unified Maghreb developing in the respect of a partnership for peace, founded on the recognition of all the States of the region and thus with the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic.

The Conference was delighted to have welcomed the press and many Moroccan associations really concerned with the protection of the rights of Saharawi populations. It associates itself with all those who, in Morocco, are fighting for an understanding of the importance of peace and finding a worthy solution which respects the rights of the Saharawi people.

The Conference met in various working groups to draw up timetables and a programme for action to raise public awareness and that of the press and media in favour of support for the just Saharawi cause. Beyond the mobilisation of political and trade union powers, particular attention was paid to the broadening of solidarity in Africa, in Latin America and in the United States. An ad hoc workshop dealt with the urgency of protecting Saharawi human rights in the present situation and set up a system of international alert. Two workshops, "Observers" and "Human Rights", benefited from the expertise of the Commission of International Jurists which held a seminar parallel to the work of the 26th EUCOCO Conference. Material and humanitarian aid brought people together from humanitarian and medical associations and specialised international NGOs in order to re-allocate, with the Saharawi Minister for Cooperation and the Saharawi and Algerian Red Crescent, priorities for health, transport, education, communication, agriculture and vegetable gardens, equipment and energy, and preparations for the return to the liberated territories.

In closing the session, the Conference reaffirms forcefully its support for the struggle of the Saharawi people and the Polisario Front, who alone are fitted to set the destiny of the Saharawis. It sends to the entire Saharawi people and in particular to Saharawi women and its organisations its friendly greetings and its unfailing solidarity.

To work alongside and to coordinate the solidarity work of the support committees and associations, women's organisations and youth organisations, and the twinned towns and communes, and to ensure liaison between the different national observer groups for the referendum, and with the parliamentary intergroups, the UN  and the other international initiatives of support for the Saharawi people in the United States and Africa in particular, the Conference reconvenes the EUCOCO Task Force which will work in liaison with the Saharawi Minister for Europe, Mr Sidati.

In concluding this meeting, the Conference expresses its full and complete support for the Palestinian people, which is also fighting for respect for its rights to a viable and sovereign State with Jerusalem as its capital.

The 27th Conference and the Conference of twin towns will be held in 2001 in Spain and in Italy. The International Conference of Jurists for the Sahara will take place in Paris.

Borzée, 26 November 2000.

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