The 2nd conference of the National Union of Saharawi Students (UNES) was held in the wilaya of Smara, under the slogan "Unity and Struggle for freedom and independence". In his speech, the Secretary General of the Union of Youth of Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro (UJSARIO), Mohamed Mouloud, called on young people to close ranks around their objectives and to spend more effort in bringing about the ideals of the Polisario Front. The president of the Republic, for his part, called on the young people to strengthen the ranks of the army of national liberation, to consolidate national unity and to distance themselves from selfish short-term choices which could stain their noble ideals". Mohamed Abdelaziz emphasised the importance of education in scientific fields: medicine, science, technology and information technology. He also emphasised the importance of learning foreign languages. (SPS)
Arrests (continued from week 35)
Dimaoui Abdessalam was transferred by the police from Goulimine to El Ayoun, where he was questioned by the judicial police then by the prosecutor. He is incarcerated in the "black prison" waiting for his sentence, due on 11 September 2002.
Tamek Ali Salem observed a hunger strike to protest about his arbitrary arrest and to claim visiting rights and an improvement in the conditions of his imprisonment. He ended his strike after one week, having obtained partial satisfaction of his demands. During his appearance before the judge in Agadir, Tamek defended his convictions for independence and denounced the many abuses of human rights in Western Sahara. The sentence will be handed down on 10 September.
Having obtained no improvement in prison conditions after their ultimatum on 1 August last (see week 31/32), 141 Saharawi detainees in El Ayoun's "black prison", including over twenty political prisoners, started an unlimited hunger strike to ask to be re-tried. In a letter, they drew the attention of Amnesty International to their conditions of detention. Two Saharawi prisoners held in Kenitra and a third in Agadir joined their action. In a statement dated 5 September, the hunger strikers appealed for a boycott of the legislative elections. (SPS)
The court of appeal in El Ayoun pronounced its judgement in the case of the six Saharawi unemployed arrested on 22 August 2002 (week 34 + week 35). The sentences are as follows:
*NB This banishment constitutes a violation of article 49 of the IVth Geneva Convention ("Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive"). At the time of the sentence in 1980 on the group of 26 Saharawis arrested in 1977, two members of the group had already been sentenced to having their residence assigned to Moroccan towns. The court of appeal in El Ayoun is now going further by banishing the accused from the provinces of Smara, El Ayoun, Oued Eddahab (Western Sahara).
Saharawis favouring independence but who want to represent Saharawis in the parliament, are victims of political discrimination. The candidatures for the forthcoming legislative elections of the three Saharawi defenders of human rights were withdrawn at the last moment from the lists of El Ayoun and Assa. (corr.)
Over a hundred Saharawi children on vacation in Italy were received in the Parliament as well as at the town hall of Rome. In the name of the president of the Parliament and about a hundred of his fellow members of the Italian parliamentary intergroup, the deputy Carlo Leoni expressed his support for the "inalienable right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and independence". Elsewhere, the mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni, organised a reception for the children, in the presence of several mayors of other towns which had hosted the Saharawi children. The mayor indicated that Rome is participating actively in organising a caravan of solidarity for the end of the year.
A group of Saharawi children staying in Naples, were received by the president of the Italian Republic, Carlo Ciampi, where they handed him a petition asking him to commit himself to supporting their return to their homeland occupied by Morocco. (SPS)
European Conference of support to the Saharawi people,
EUCOCO 2002, Peace and Self-determination for the Saharawi people
Modena (Italy) 25-27 October 2002
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