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Algerian and Saharawi parliamentary groups of fraternity and friendship met the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Algerian National Popular Assembly (parliament). The talks were about bilateral relations and collaboration. Their attachment to principles of decolonisation and self-determination were re-affirmed.
News from inside the prisons
As-Sabah, a Moroccan daily, published a letter from Bazaid Salek, in which he tells of his abduction on 24 September last in El Ayoun (see week 39/2002). Bazaid finally appeared before the court of appeal on 22.01, which delayed his trial until 2 or 12 March.
The Saharawi political detainee Ahmed Bachir Ahmed Sbai, arrested on 1.10.02 appeared before the judge. His trial was postponed until 19 February.
Last week an official delegation visited the political prisoner Ali Salem Tamek in the penitentiary of Salé. They assured him there would be improvement in his prison conditions. The Moroccan Arab-language daily "An-Nahar" had published a detailed report from Tamek on prison conditions in Inezegane prison where he passed his first days of detention.
Tamek started a 48-hour hunger strike to demand the right to receive visits on Saturday and public holidays. A Spanish lawyer and a journalist were not authorised to visit him. Action committees for the release of Tamek and all political detainees were created in Assa and Boujdour (see week 01/2003), they can be contacted by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The same day, Tamek was attacked twice by a common law prisoner, a drug trafficker, who tried to strike him, once with a metal bar and another time with a knife, shouting "The Sahara is Moroccan, Long live Mohamed VI". Thanks to the intervention of his fellow-detainees, Tamek was not hurt. He sent a letter of protest to the King's chief justice at the court of appeal in Rabat, asking for assurance of his safety in prison. The president of the Forum for Truth and Justice, Maitre Essabar Mohamed, paid Tamek a visit to inform himself about the incident.
According to the daily "As-Sabah", the prison management of El Ayoun civil prison, following the five-day hunger strike by Saharawi political detainees, took their demands into consideration. It claimed the political prisoners would be lodged in a separate cell away from the common law prisoners. The alteration work is in progress to make this cell, but risks being interrupted through lack of finance.
A Spanish delegation led by Carmelo Ramirez, president of the Federation of Spanish institutions in solidarity with the Saharawi people (FEDISSAH), comprising senators, members of parliament, local councillors and members of civil society, travelled to Algiers. After a meeting with the Algerian Committee of solidarity with the Saharawi people, discussing their cooperation of support for the Saharawi people, the creation of an Algerian-Spanish foundation of solidarity with the Saharawi people was announced. Its general meeting is due to take place next July in Madrid. It will work for respect for the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination in accordance with international law.
Colloquium in Paris
A meeting and debate in the premises of the French National Assembly brought together a large audience around the theme "Western Sahara, a question of unresolved decolonisation, what is at stake?" (See statement french and SPS)
Resolution of the Security Council, S/RES/1429,
"The Security Council decides to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 31 March 2003 in order to give the parties time to consider the proposal presented to them by the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, and requests the Secretary-General to provide a report on the situation by 17 March 2003" (english HTML - PDF)
The Early Day Motion [That this House expresses its profound regret that the Saharawi people are still waiting to exercise their right to self-determination, 27 years after Morocco's illegal occupation of the Western Sahara; .....] laid down in the British parliament last December, now has 94 signatures. This type of motion, which does not oblige the government to respond but which reflects concerns of MPs, rarely collects a hundred signatures on topics in foreign affairs.
Saharawi students at the University of Rabat organised a march in the university residences of Rabat and successive sit-ins outside the Ministries of Human Rights and the Interior. A highly placed official in the latter ministry received a delegation of students and promised an "incisive" response for next Wednesday 5 February.
After fifteen months of crisis, Morocco and Spain are renewing their diplomatic relations and announce the return of their ambassadors. The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ana Palacio, had an audience with King Mohamed VI of Morocco.
World Civil Forum in Porto Alegre
A workshop entitled "Western Sahara: over a century of struggle against imperialism", in its conclusions condemned the attitude of the Moroccan government of preventing the holding of a referendum of self-determination, of exploiting natural resources, and of implementing a strategy of repression and systematic human rights abuses in the occupied territories. It also asked international organisations to guarantee a dignified life to the refugee population in the camps at Tindouf and finally asked the Brazilian government to recognised SADR. (Report spanish )
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