In a communiqué published in Rabat, the "Coordinating Committee representing the group of Saharawis, victims of forced disappearance and escapees from the sinister penal colonies of Kelaat Mgouna, Agdz and Laayoune" expressed once again its will to continue its struggle until its demands are satisfied:
- sentencing of those responsible for human rights abuses
- clarification on the fate of the disappeared
- compensation for the victims
- cessation of attacks on human rights in Western Sahara.
56th session of the UN Commission of Human Rights in Geneva
In a resolution adopted by consensus, the Commission exhorted Morocco and the Polisario Front to avoid any initiative which could compromise the execution of the settlement plan and agreements concerning its implementation. It committed the two parties to apply scrupulously and faithfully all the measures proposed by the Secretary General for the identification of voters, the appeals process and the revised timetable for its implementation.
The General Assembly of European Development NGOs, meeting in Brussels, in a resolution, called for the European Union and its member States to put enough pressure on the United Nations so that the referendum takes place as quickly as possible. It asked the EU to increase its humanitarian aid to the Saharawi refugees and to offer itself as a mediator between Moroccans and Saharawis.
The French language weekly "Le Journal" as well as the Arabic language weekly "Assahifa", printed in France, have been banned from entry into Morocco, for having published an interview with Mohamed Abdelaziz, General Secretary of the Polisario Front. The decision was taken by the Prime Minister. The interview had been conducted in Washington at a reception organised by the Defense Forum Foundation. In a communiqué, the Ministry of Communication made clear that this ban aimed to "reaffirm the determination of the Government to face up to any presentation which treats lightly the feelings of the Moroccan people united behind the guide of the Nation and the guarantor of its territorial integrity, His Majesty, King Mohamed VI". Aboubakr Jamaï, director of "Le Journal" stated that "we are witnessing a return to methods which we thought bygone. We thought we were in a state of law, whilst the terminology of this communiqué is that of a dictatorship, or else comes from psychoanalysis."
The Moroccan Government has released a provisional allocation of 40 million dirhams (US$3.8) to compensate victims of "arbitrary detentions", it was announced in Rabat by Driss Dahak, Chair of the Consultative Council for Human Rights (CCDH). "It is a provisional compensation which will permit the beneficiaries to pay for their health problems and respond to their urgent needs", Mr Dahak explained, adding that the interested parties could expect "very shortly" the total amount of their compensation.
Morocco: censorship (continued)
The Director General of the second channel of Moroccan public television, 2M, was dismissed along with the Director of programmes and the Editor in Chief, the Ministry of Communication announced. These dismissals follow "a particular professional error", a journalist having shown on screen the latest issue of "Le Journal" on the Sahara.
The Mauritanian President received Omar Mansour, the Saharawi Minister of Public Health. Their talks covered the peace plan. Its implementation requires an international effort, particularly on the part of the observer countries, Mauritania and Algeria, the Saharawi Minister said on Mauritanian radio.
The treatment of the appeals lodged by Morocco could be finished in "seven months at the most", if the Identification Commission benefits from the "necessary support, the cooperation of the two parties and of the Security Council", the Saharawi coordinator with MINURSO, M'Hamed Khaddad, reaffirmed as he left his talks with the Special Representative for the Sahara, Mr Eagleton and the President of the Identification Commission, Mr Vetere. (SPS)
Refugee camps: Cultural Festival
The second international festival of culture, in which several Saharawi and foreign musical groups participated, took place in the wilaya of Smara in the presence of over 3000 spectators, mostly from Spain, but also from Italy and Switzerland. Exhibitions presenting Saharawi popular traditions were organised in four large camel-hair tents.
During a press conference the Secretary General of the Polisario Front accused the French government of putting pressure on Spain to torpedo the peace plan. As in 1975, it is France who wants to abort the process of self-determination, Mohamed Abdelaziz declared, adding that he held on to the hope that Spain would resist the French pressure. (SPS)
Refugee Camps: TV
A TV broadcasting station was opened in the wilaya of Smara. This project is the work of a Spanish-Saharawi NGO, Sario, and will enable local broadcasting of three TV channels. The same NGO has already installed a station of the same type in the wilaya of Dakhla. (SPS)
First official visit, since the independence of Mauritania in 1960, of a Mauritanian President to Morocco. The question of Western Sahara figured on the agenda of talks with Mohamed VI and Ould Taya.
The ROAPE Millennium Conference, "Africa - capturing the Future" organised by the Review of African Political Economy with Leeds University Centre for African Studies and supported by Leeds City Council brought together 150 delegates from universities around Britain, Africa and other countries. Brahim Mokhtar, Polisario representative in the UK, presented one of the key-note addresses entitled "The failure of the decolonisation process in Western Sahara". John Battle, a Leeds MP and a Minister for Foreign Affairs, also spoke briefly.
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