Florence- Pisa: First European Conference of Towns with twinning and friendship pacts with the Saharawi people
The conference brought together 250 European delegates and over 30 Saharawi delegates, almost half of them women. The aim was to promote new forms of solidarity and to strengthen establishd friendship and twinning agreements between communes, provinces and regions in Europe with the Saharawi camps. The conference opened with a march through Florence of representatives from many Italian regions in traditional dress, carrying flags and banners from the respective towns. It was in the Palazzo Vecchio that the opening ceremony took place, in the presence of the Mayor of Florence with the signing of a charter of solidarity with the Saharawi people. Participants then travelled to Pisa and met in working groups. The Final Declaration (french ) emphasises the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and rejects all attempts to prevent them from expressing themselves in a free and fair referendum.
In the course of the conference new twinning pacts were concluded: the town of Naples with the wilaya of Dakhla, Capannoli (province of Pisa) with Tichla (wilaya of Ausserd) and Pecioli ( province of Pisa) with J'Deiriya (wilaya of Smara), this brings the total number of Italian towns to 256 twinned with Saharawi dairas and provinces. Five Saharawi delegations are still in Italy, led by the President of the National Council, the Minister of Cooperation and the walis of Smara, El Ayoun and Ausserd. They also include municipal councillors from the four wilayas and representatives of grass roots organisations. (SPS)
Occupied Western Sahara
The Moroccan Minister of the Interior, Driss Jettou, met in El Ayoun with local elected members and decision-makers to "study the ways and means to create the conditions for dynamic development of these provinces, in particular in the areas of fishing, tourism, commerce and handicraft." The creation of a support fund for investment is envisaged. In parallel, the Secretary of State for Housing visited the region.
In Assa, a stronghold of Saharawi protest in Southern Morocco, young unemployed Saharawis have been observing an unlimited hunger strike since 1 October, to protest against the failure of the Moroccan state to satisfy their claims on the subject of employment. In 2000 a 20-day sit-in ended with promises by the authorities to give the unemployed jobs.
On 2 October hundreds of people, predominantly students and women, took part in a march of solidarity through Assa. In the afternoon pupils from the lycée Oqba Ibn Nafâa, gathering for a similar march, were dispersed by police.
In September 1992 the population of this town demonstrated for the improvement of conditions of life and in favour of the United Nations peace plan. Police used firearms to take control of the situation. In January the following year 24 young Saharawis were sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment.
At the end of his term as Ambassador for SADR in Ethiopia and permanent Representative with the OAU, Fadel Ismail was received by the Secretary General of the OAU, Amara Essy, who bestowed the insignia of honour of the OAU and a certificate of appreciation in recognition for his work.
The town of Smara awoke to thousands of leaflets everywhere and Saharawi flags hanging from electricity poles. The leaflets called for mobilisation against the Moroccan occupation and for solidarity with the Saharawi political prisoners in Moroccan jails. The occupation authorities arrested El Meiles Mohamed, accused of being among the signatories of a petition calling for the liberation of Saharawi prisoners.
In El Ayoun, Laroussi Noumriya and Salka mint Mohamed ould M'Haimed were interrogated and tortured in a police station for their participation in the action of solidarity commemorating the second anniversary of the events of 1999. (SPS)
Spain continues to support the efforts of the UN in Western Sahara Josep Piqué, Spanish foreign minister, declared that the position of his country concerning Western Sahara did not change and that Spain continues to support the efforts of the United Nations, its Secretary General, Kofi Annan, and his personal envoy, James Baker, for the implementation of the peace plan accepted by Morocco and Polisario. (El Watan, Algiers)
Occupied Western Sahara
The plunder of resources of Western Sahara is carrying on completely illegally. Morocco grants concessions for off-shore oil exploration on the whole of the Saharan coast. ONAREP (Moroccan National Office of Oil Exploration and Exploitation) has signed a "reconnaissance contract" with the American oil company Kerr-McGee. This contract covers an off-shore zone of 11,400 km2 situated north of Boujdour (Western Sahara) and provides for geological and geophysical studies to be done over 12 months. Abraham Serfaty, adviser to the director of ONAREP, present at the ceremony, said that this is the first time that such a contract has been signed between a foreign company and Morocco for petroleum research in Western Sahara. The concession for the southern part of the Western Sahara coast will be signed with the French oil company, TotalFinaElf in November, "in recognition of the French presence in Morocco". Six contracts for off-shore prospecting around Cap Draa (Southern Morocco) have been awarded to Kerr-McGee, Enterprise Oil (Great Britain) and Energy Africa (South Africa). (Agencies)
The SADR Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, "strongly denounced" the contract, calling it "an irregular and culpable transaction". In a statement to SPS, he recalled that "the sovereignty of Western Sahara does not belong to Morocco". For this head of Saharawi diplomacy, the Kerr-McGee company "is violating" the UN peace plan. "Morocco never stops looking for partners to lead into error in its colonial enterprise in Western Sahara", he added. Interventions with the Security Council and the international community have begun to prevent this policy "sabotaging so much effort and energy which the international community have been expending for a whole decade." (SPS)
International campaign for the liberation of Mohamed Daddach and all Saharawi political prisoners condemned by Moroccan courts
collection of signatures is going on. (several thousand signatures
arrived yet by mail, fax...)
You can still sign the appeal on line (english, french, spanish, italian, german) or download and print out petition forms for the collection of signatures (english, french, spanish, italian, german).
Italy: 600 Saharawi children were hosted over the months of July and August by communes, NGOs, support associations and families in many regions of Italy.During their stay groups of children were received by the Pope, the President of the Region of Campania, Antonio Bassolino, by the Mayor of Naples, Rosa Russo Jervolino, by the Mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni, by regional authorities and by many mayors and presidents of provinces. The children also took part in political and cultural events. Some received medical care. The birth of two new little Saharawi citizens was celebrated, their mothers finding themselves in Italy as leaders with the children.
The 4th Commission of the UN meets from 8 October and will treat Western Sahara probably from 9-11 October.
Publicity for the 4th "Shamrock" speed race for trucks, cars and motobikes, which will take place between 2 and 11 November 2001 in El Ayoun, occupied Western Sahara, leads one to believe that this town is in Morocco and its map is published without a border between Morocco and Western Sahara. To protest: mailto:email@example.com
Landmine Monitor Report 2001 :
Página WEB de la Asociación de Villena con el Pueblo Saharaui Desierto La Hamada: <http://www.arrakis.es/~angelgm>
[External links to newspapers may not be valid after some days because the servers are restarted]