The serious Human Rights violations committed by the Moroccan state in the Western Sahara.

Testimony by Larbi Messaoud (biography)
[en français]

By presenting this document,  The Collective of the Saharawi Defenders of Human Rights intends to present an overview of all different forms of violations of Human Rights committed by Morocco in Western Sahara, in the aftermath of the  peaceful demonstrations demanding self determination and respect for human rights erupted in the territory since May 21st, 2005.

1. The Peaceful nature of the uprising:
Being very close to the permanent demonstrations in many districts, streets and squares in the territory, and thanks to the hard work of daily investigation and gathering of information carried out by our activists, the CODESA become aware of the peaceful nature of the uprising summarized in the slogans of the people expressing their support for the Polisario and the implementation of the right to self-determination.   

The Moroccan authorities, since then, have intensified their military and security presence in the territory to oppress the Saharawi civilians and deprive them form enjoying their very basic rights to freedom of speech and peaceful demonstration. While very determinant to harden their Media blackout on the territory by forcing out Organizations, Parliamentarian delegations, Trade unions and the international media form the occupied Western Sahara; the Moroccan authorities have embarked in a large internal media campaign, using all possible means, to distort, in vain, the democratic nature and objectives of the uprising. 

2. Harassment of the Human Rights Activists:
After their failure to distort and silence the uprising, due to the determination of the Human rights defenders and their constant work (informing the public opinion, the international
human rights organizations, and the international media about the ongoing abuses and atrocities) the Moroccan authorities launched a wide campaign of arbitrary detentions against many of them, including some who were not present in the territory at the moment the uprising erupted for the first time. Those arbitrary arrests bear witness of the dire will of the Moroccan authorities to prevent the international public opinion from being aware of the brutalities committed on a daily basis against the civilian demonstrations in the territory, expanded later, to include cities in the South of Morocco and some universities campuses.

3. The Serious violations of Human Rights committed by the Moroccan State:
a) Abduction: Since the first day of the demonstrations, many civilians were arrested and driven by the Moroccan security agents to unknown destinations to be threatened, and tortured, and later thrown, in remote places outside the cities, left in very horrific conditions.

b) Torture: Although the Moroccan state has signed and ratified the convention against torture and has penalized it in 2006, in practice Morocco does continue torturing the Saharawi citizens, aggressing them in all secret and official detention centers of the Moroccan Police.

b1-  Torture in the secret detention centers: Once again, the Moroccan authorities have resorted to the abduction and torture of the Saharawi Citizens in centers of secret detention. The locations of some of those centers are not yet known to the public, despite the fact that some of the activists were kept in for more than 06 days.

Some of the victims have testified on the methods of torture used in those secret detention centers, especially Mr. Houssen Lidri and Mr. Brahim Noumria, two human rights activists, abducted by the Judiciary police in El Aaiun and tortured in the secret centre of detention “PCCM” for more than 48 hours by the chief members of the Moroccan security service.
In their testimony, both confirmed all sorts of torture psychological and physical (the aircraft position, blind folded, beatings, insulting, depriving them from sleeping, eating and drinking…).

With regard to the methods of torture against the Saharawi civilians in the police centers, we may mention the followings:

The Moroccan authorities are committing those atrocities with no distinction of age, gender or physical condition of the detainee. Many cases of tortured pregnant women and handicaps were reported to the CODESA.

As a result of those barbarous actions against the Saharawi civilians, some innocent civilians were murdered by the Moroccan police (Hamdi Lembarki and Abba Cheikh Lejlifi). In addition, some activists found themselves condemned to spend the rest of their lives with physical handicaps, as was the case of the Ms. Sultana Khaya who lost one of her eyes on the hands of the Moroccan police, in one of the demonstrations. The abortion of Saharawi women as a result of the torture (Mrs. Ghlana Burhah) is also reported about frequently.

Saharawi Children under detention, as well as their families, are also subject to racist and inhumane practices that put in danger their future and extinguish the innocence from the face of every saharawi children living under Moroccan occupation.  Many saharawi children go through torture, pain and other degradations, just to deprive them from education and their innocent dreams and to expose them to psychological fear and the daily sufferings of the military and security blockage imposed on the occupied territories of the Western Sahara.
Many saharawi families complain that their children suffer from nightmares, fear and some urinate while sleeping, others, experience stomach and head illness and psychological instability. Such situation makes the teachers worry about the future of the students, especially, since most of them have problems memorizing lessons and they do not feel it is important to pass an examination or even to continue attending school.

Many saharawi children suffer from many serious wounds due to the torment, beatings and racial discrimination they go through in the judiciary police centers. Other physical and psychological torture inflicted to saharawi children in these centers include sleep and drinking depravation, to make them repeat the Moroccan hymn and other Moroccan propagandist slogans and threats to their lives if they continue to participate in peaceful demonstrations.
Due to such practices, the Moroccan authorities are pushing many saharawi children to escape the political unrest in small home made boats to the Spanish coast. In this regard, since the beginning of the “independence intifada” an estimated 500 saharawi citizens, including some minors have attempted to cross to Europe, causing the death of dozens of them and the disappearance of others, whose families accuse the Moroccan authorities of being responsible of their disappearance, such is the case of the 15 saharawi children and youngsters  whose disappearance has brought contradictory statements from the Moroccan  security apparatus since December 25th , 2005.
Then, how can it be possible to say that the saharawi children are not targeted when there is a clear policy to target them through drug and human smuggling networks, their schools and houses are subject to regular police raids and the Moroccan security apparatus carry out  usual campaigns of intimidation against them.

Political detention

Since the beginning of the “intifada of independence” the Moroccan authorities have launched a widespread campaign of political detentions against the saharawi demonstrators that even included the human rights activists in the Western Sahara.  The aim of such detentions was to tie the human rights activists to criminal activities, this maneuver, however, did not work because the international observers testified that the saharawi human right activists were arrested for their participation in the peaceful demonstrations demanding the right for self-determination for the saharawi people. The human rights activists also went on many hunger strikes to change their appalling detention conditions and their 20 to 4 years jail sentences. The Moroccan authorities finally released all of the saharawi political detainees, to soon after detain dozens of saharawi citizens for participating in peaceful demonstrations. Today, around 40 saharawi political detainees, including three minors, are held in Moroccan prisons with no respect to their rights as political prisoners. Many of these political prisoners went on a hunger strike starting on September 17th 2007 demanding their right to education and learning. Ahmaidan Elwali, one of the political prisoners was transferred, against his will, from the “Black Jail” in El Aaiun to the local jail of Tarudanet in Morocco. Penitentiary authorities inflict all kinds of torture and discrimination against the saharawi political prisoners while the Moroccan police size the opportunity to abuse them with vengeance while escorting them to the hospital or to court.
The Moroccan state continues to detain, arbitrarily, saharawi citizens and to hold them, sometimes for over 6 days without telling their relatives about their whereabouts, just to release them afterwards without charges. 

Moroccan state’s violations of human rights committed against saharawi citizens violate all international human rights conventions, particularly the chapters 08, 09 and 10 of the international declaration of Human Rights and the chapters 01, 06, 07 and 09 of the international convention on civil and political rights and the principles to protect all individuals subject to any kind of detention, the declaration of the rights of the children and the convention against torture.
Geneva, le 24.09.07