Delegación para Europa
The Rit. Hon. Chris Patten
Commissioner in charge of External Relations
Rue de la Loi
Brussels, April 3, 2003
Dear Mr Patten,
The Moroccan Government has persisted, since 27th March 2003, in prohibiting a delegation representing families of disappeared Saharawis and defenders of human rights from leaving for Geneva, where they were intending to take part in the ongoing works of the 59th session of the UN Human rights Commission.
All members of the delegation, which is made up of five defenders of human rights and seven members of the families of disappeared Saharawis in addition to the 2000 winner of RAFTO Foundation prize for human rights, Sidi Mohamed Daddach, were submitted to humiliating interrogations at Casablanca's airport. Their passports, plane tickets as well as videos containing testimonies of relatives of disappeared Saharawis were confiscated, before the delegation were ruthlessly driven out of the airport.
This blatant act of encroachment upon the right to free movement constitutes a gross violation of human rights and is a clear testimony to the severity of the policies of repression pursued by Moroccan state in the territories of Western Sahara under its illegal occupation.
At a time when the world's attention is being zeroed in on Iraq, the Moroccan government is seen bent on intensifying its repressive practices against the Saharawi population in the occupied territories. The unjust trials and outrageous sentences, as was the case of the three Saharawis who recently were sentenced to more than ten years of imprisonment, are illustrative indeed of those oppressive practices. The situation of the prisoner of conscience Ali Salem TAMEK, who had to go on hunger strike after his repeated demands for decent treatment had been deliberately ignored by the Moroccan authorities, is another case in point. Now, with the restriction imposed on thirteen Saharawis, who were peacefully defending the respect of their fundamental liberties and dignity, the Moroccan policies seem to take further repressive dimensions.
This flagrant infringement on fundamental freedoms bears witness, if necessary, to Morocco's incessant intention to persist in putting obstacles before all attempts to reach a just and peaceful solution to the conflict of Western Sahara in consonance with international legality.
While appealing to you to heed this SOS cry, we would like to call upon you to intervene urgently with the Moroccan authorities in order to demand them to respect the human rights of all those persons and lift the restriction imposed on them so that they could immediately and unconditionally exercise their freedom of movement. To this end, their passports, plane tickets and other belongings should be given back to them, so that they may be able to leave for Geneva and take part in the on-going works of the Human Rights Commission.
Counting on your attachment to values of freedom, justice and democracy, I trust that you will take note of this pressing appeal.
Please accept my highest regards and best wishes.
Minister-Counsellor of the SADR's Presidency