Morocco: Amnesty International's
«The arbitration commission, established in 1999 to decide on compensation for the victims of ''disappearance'' and arbitrary detention and their families, announced that it had examined 148 claims. However, the authorities failed to clarify the cases of several hundred ''disappeared'', most of them Sahrawis, or to acknowledge the deaths of some 70 Sahrawi who ''disappeared'' in secret detention between the 1970s and early 1990s. One long-term prisoner of conscience was released from house arrest in May. Four prisoners of conscience were tried and sentenced to prison terms. Hundreds of political arrests were made and more than 60 political prisoners sentenced after unfair trials in previous years continued to be detained. There were continued reports of torture of detainees and demonstrations were often repressed with excessive force. The failure to bring those responsible for human rights violations to justice remained a major concern. »
Western Sahara: Amnesty
International's Annual Report
«Freedom of expression, association and movement continued to be restricted in the camps controlled by the Polisario Front near Tindouf in southwestern Algeria. Those responsible for human rights abuses in the camps in previous years continued to enjoy impunity. The Polisario authorities failed to hand over perpetrators still resident in the camps to the Algerian authorities to be brought to justice and the Moroccan authorities failed to bring to justice the perpetrators of abuses in the Polisario camps present on its territory.» (Morocco/Western Sahara, Amnesty International Report 2001)
The European Bureau for the Respect of Human Rights in Western Sahara, (BERDHSO), is running a campaign from June to December to collect signatures for the liberation of Mohamed Daddach and 27 other Saharawi political prisoners at present detained in Morocco. BERDHSO, in accordance with its charter, wants to join the efforts of all those fighting in the world for the respect of human rights, and more particularly to inform and denounce human rights abuses in Western Sahara. It is continuing its campaign of symbolic adoption of Saharawi disappeared, is launching actions for the defence of human rights in Western Sahara and will support participation from Saharawi human rights organisations in meetings on such topics. Contact : BERDHSO, Case postale 53, CH-1211 Genève 9 (Switzerland), Tel/fax: ++41.22.320.65.50, Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Day of the martyr
The determination of the Saharawis to continue their fight for which the martyrs sacrificed their lives was the main theme of the 25th anniversary of the Day of the Martyr, celebrated in the wilaya of Dakhla. The event was marked by the participation of the whole national government, civil servants, and representatives of civil society and the army of liberation. Photos of the martyrs were on show beside that of the leader of the Saharawi revolution, El Wali Mustapha Sayed, fallen on the field of honour in 1976. (SPS)
Fifth Congress of the Union of Saharawi Youth (UJSARIO)
In his speech opening the congress, which is taking place in the wilaya of Dakhla, the Saharawi President, Mohamed Abdelaziz, thanked in a particularly marked way the Algerian delegation and Algeria for its constant support for the cause of the Saharawi people. German, Spanish and Italian NGOs, as well as representatives from civil society in Brazil, Uruguay, and Cuba also took part in the congress. "Pursuing the struggle is the only way of recovering independence", he affirmed in his speech, adding that "the Saharawi people finds itself (...) at a dangerous crossroads in its history". In a press conference, the president emphasised that "any solution outside the UN peace plan would signify the annexation of Western Sahara, which is something we refuse categorically". We want, he repeated, "a free and democratic referendum on self-determination under the control of the international community".
The president of the European parliamentary intergroup "Peace for the Saharawi People", Mrs Margot Kessler, declared in her speech that she had noticed in the liberated territories that "all the conditions have been brought together so that the referendum could be organised without any delays on the shortest timescale"
For his part, Khatri Addou, responsible for political relations of the Polisario Front, deplored the unjust treatment by the UN of the Saharawi question, pointing out that the international organisation does not treat all conflicts with the same transparency and justice. Since 1999, he added, there has been an attempt to replace the juridical basis with an illegal basis.
The congress adopted a recommendation underlining the necessity of resolving the conflict in Western Sahara by "guaranteeing the national rights of the Saharawi people" and reaffirmed its "categorical refusal of ambiguous solutions". It called all the Saharawi youth to expend more effort and to use every means to defend the national objectives until total sovereignty is attained on the territory of SADR.(SPS, APS)
President Mohamed Abdelaziz proceeded to a partial re-shuffle of the governors of the four regions which form the Saharawi refugee camps. Mahfoud Ali Beiba, previously wali of Dakhla, has been moved to the wilaya of Ausserd, replacing Bachir Mustapha Sayed, appointed wali of Dakhla. (SPS)
Rev. Ray Buchanan, President and CEO of Stop Hunger Now who visited the Sahrawi refugee camps last month, states that international food aid is immediately needed to prevent a food crisis. Stop Hunger Now, an international hunger relief organization based in Raleigh, NC, has been asked to take the lead in mobilizing an international response to an impending hunger crisis. (Middle East News Press Release Network)
In response to the precarious situation with food stores, (see week 23), the European Commission decided to make available to the office of humanitarian aid (ECHO), 3.77 million euros as emergency aid for the Saharawi refugees. This amount will provide basic food products for the refugees for three months, the stores being at present almost empty. This intervention plan will be implemented by two NGOs, partners with ECHO, Medico International and the Comitato Internazionale per lo Sviluppo dei Popoli (CISP). (Press rel. EU)
About the food problem in the camps see also the press release of CarlosWilson from the US Western Sahara Foundation: UN Using Food as a Weapon Against Sahrawi Refugees?
A delegation of the French 'Platform of Solidarity with the Saharawi People', an umbrella group of associations, elected members and municipalities met European parliamentarians in Strasbourg, in order to ask them to support the referendum process in Western Sahara. and to take measures to force Morocco to respect its commitments, as well as to protect the natural resources of Western Sahara. The delegation alerted the MEPs to the very alarming humanitarian situation in the refugee camps. They expressed their wish that a European Parliamentary mission should be sent to occupied Western Sahara and of its deep concern about the support given by certain European states, especially France, for Moroccan policies. The delegation recalled that any solution which did not take account of the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination would inevitably lead to the resumption of hostilities.
On 5 May James Baker submitted to the Polisario Front, during a secret visit to the refugee camps, a draft proposal for autonomy, "slightly improved" compared with the one put forward by Morocco. It makes provision for the electoral body defined by MINURSO of 86,381 voters to elect a parliament and autonomous government. These institutions would have competence in the spheres of culture, education and part of the economy (management of natural resources, for example, but not fiscal resources). The maintenance of order would remain in the hands of Rabat. The degree of autonomy would be less than that of any Spanish autonomous community. After five years the Saharawi population and Moroccans living in the territory for over a year would pronounce on the continuation of the autonomous regime. The referendum would be on the confirmation of the Sahara belonging to Morocco and not on self-determination. The Polisario Front, through its spokesperson in the UN, has rejected this proposal. It was only in April that Rabat had submitted to James Baker and to Kofi Annan a proposal that was "genuine, substantial and in keeping with international norms" as demanded by the UN. (El Pais, Las Provincias, El Mundo )
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