- OCCUPIED TERRITORIES
- HUMAN RIGHTS
- COMING UP
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SADR - MAURITANIA
The minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, personal envoy of the President of the Republic, was received by the Mauritanian president, Maaouiya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya. He was the bearer of a message from the President of the Saharawi Republic, Mohamed Abdelaziz, to his Mauritanian counterpart, the Minister declared to the local press that this message refers to two recent developments in the conflict of Western Sahara. On this point "the necessity of organising a referendum of self-determination of the Saharawi people", should be emphasised, considering that it is "the only guarantee of a lasting peace in the region" capable of "ensuring a prosperous Maghreb".
Saharawi political prisoners in El Ayoun prison renew their hunger strike to protest against the severe sentences in the latest trials and the inhuman conditions of detention. According to Es-Sabbah, this concerns 27 people. Meanwhile, during the past week, two common law prisoners died and another was hospitalised for serious health problems. (corr.)
Abdelaziz Belkhadem, Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, has recently sent in his official response to James Baker's proposal on the conflict in Western Sahara. According to him, Algeria reiterated the principle of self-determination of the Saharawi people, whatever solution is chosen. He considers that in the proposals of the American diplomat, there are positive points, making clear however that "other elements require clarification". (Le Jeune Indépendant)
The United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, received Mhamed Khadad,
member of the Polisario Front leadership and emissary of the President of SADR, Mohamed Abdelaziz. In the course of the talks, Khadad handed over the response of the Polisario Front to the proposals of James Baker. The question of the protection of Saharawi populations in the occupied zone against Moroccan human rights abuses was also raised as a matter of urgency by the Saharawi envoy.
Through its resolution 1469 (2003), the Security Council extended MINURSO's mandate by two months, that is until 31 May 2003.
Morocco rejects the Baker plan, headline in the daily, Aujourd'hui le Maroc (Morocco Today). "Not respecting the basis of Morocco's sovereignty over its Sahara, the Baker plan (..) grants in the context of the autonomy of the Moroccan Sahara many concessions to the Polisario and to their protectors in terms of attributes of sovereignty. Besides, this plan stipulates that the final status of this territory should be settled by referendum (...). Supposed to be bringing a political solution to the problem of the Moroccan Sahara, the Baker Plan is of a nature to delay the settlement process of this question (...). Mr. Baker, whose plan is very debatable, is here and now invited to make another tour of the region. (Aujourd'hui le Maroc)
The president of Cortes of Aragon, José Maria Mur, gave to his Saharawi counterpart, Salem Lebsir, the results of the symbolic referendum in the autonomous community conducted on 19, 20 and 21 March. Mur also informed the media of the content of a resolution approved by the Cortes (parliament) on 22 March, demanding the central government to do their best so that during the coming debate in the Security Council on the Sahara, it will pronounce itself in favour of the speedy organisation of the referendum of self-determination of the Saharawi people.
59th Session of the Human Rights Commission in Geneva
José Ramos-Horta, Foreign Affairs minister of Timor-Leste, stated that his government is seriously concerned by the fact that the Peace Plan for Western Sahara has still not been implemented more than 10 years after its adoption.
General debate on the right of peoples to determine themselves The representative of Algeria, Dembri, remarked that the Saharawi people are still waiting to exercise their right to self-determination, a right constantly postponed by the delaying tactics of the party which occupies Western Sahara. Morocco does not seem to have the measure of how greatly this people is attached to recovering their abused rights, Mr Dembri deplored.
The Federation of Cuban Women, the World Muslim Congress and the Centro de estudios europeos were all keen to reaffirm, during their interventions, the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people and the necessity for the United Nations of implementing their own resolutions concerning Western Sahara.
Meeting of families of disappeared, Geneva
This meeting with families of disappeared Saharawis from the refugee camps and the territories under Moroccan control represents the completion of BIRDHSO's campaign "FREEDOM AND JUSTICE FOR DISAPPEARED SAHARAWIS" launched last September. Whilst the trip of the delegation coming from Tindouf went without any hitches, we learnt on Thursday afternoon 20 March that the group which had left El Ayoun the day before, had been prevented from taking the plane at Casablanca airport. There were 13 people in the group including the former political prisoner, Mohamed Daddach, Rafto prize winner for 2002. The police and the DST confiscated their passports, their visas, their airline tickets, video cassettes and other documents. On the urgent appeal of BIRDHSO numerous protests were raised against this violation of the right to free circulation by Morocco. The Swiss and Norwegian authorities, Swiss and European elected members and NGOs intervened and are still intervening with the Moroccan authorities to demand the return of confiscated papers and the authorisation for the delegation to travel.[Press release BIRDHSO - Press release of the Collective of the Saharawi Human Rights defenders "Territory of Western Sahara under Moroccan Control",27.03.03 ]
Despite the absence of the delegation from the occupied territories, the programme carried on as planned, starting with a gathering on the Place des Nations, outside the seat of the UN in Geneva, in the presence of families of disappeared present in Geneva, and the participants in the meeting from France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Great Britain, etc.
The next day a ceremony to the memory of all the disappeared in Western Sahara and in the world took place in the Garden of the Disappeared at Meyrin. In the evening a conference-debate was held on the theme "For the disappearance of forced disappearance in Western Sahara", with speeches by Afifa Karmous from the Foundation France-Libertés, Federico Andreu, from the International Commission of Lawyers and from a representative of Amnesty International. A contribution by telephone from Morocco of Mohamed Daddach, who spoke in the name of the group of people turned back at Casablanca airport constituted a high point of the evening. A discussion enabled a large audience, including several pro-Moroccan Saharawis, to speak.
Representatives from the families of disappeared were received at the Permanent Mission of Spain at the UN, where over 6,000 signatures on the appeal FREEDOM AND JUSTICE FOR THE SAHARAWI DISAPPEARED were handed over to be passed on to the Spanish government. Another group went to the office of the International Committee of the Red Cross ICRC. The Saharawi delegation will continue their meetings with representatives of the media and international organisations until 3 April.
Texts of the speeches and talks are being transcribed and will be published later.
While the Saharawi delegation from the occupied territories was detained at the airport and prevented from travelling to Switzerland, pro-Moroccan Saharawis, the majority being defectors from the POLISARIO, disembarked in Geneva. These good people, sponsored by the Moroccan Ministry of the Interior, did not fear ridicule. They had been directed to imitate, that is to say told to be present at the demonstrations of BIRDHSO so that the Moroccan Press Agency, MAP could give them the credit. Thus a dozen of them, accompanied by Moroccan officials, took their place on the outskirts of the gestures of BIRDHSO demonstrators. The same evening they invited to a debate an audience which didn't show up, and then the next day they participated in the one organised by BIRDHSO, where they distinguished themselves by their aggressive attitude and their lack of respect for the most elementary rules of good conduct. But these professional activists can console themselves, in Morocco, they got a good press. The official agency of misinformation, MAP is there to correct reality...
On 25 March, during a conference at the University of Rome III, the Nobel Prize winner of literature, José Saramago and Pilar del Rio agreed to be "guardians" of the book which brings together a selection of the photos from the SADR War Museum. The Museum holds, with the weapons, the photos which were in the possession of Moroccan soldiers who died or were captured during the war. This archive has revealed itself to be a historic document of great importance as a witness to this forgotten war. The book, of which 20 copies have been printed, will be shown at public demonstrations and will be an instrument of peace. For further information : Patrizio Esposito +39.081416092; Ansps +39.066864640.
02.04.03 Recital de poesía saharaui en la Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, dentro de las jornadas "Los Espacios de la Poesía". Contarán con poetas saharauis que escriben en castellano. De momento está confirmada la presencia de Mohamed Salem Abdelfatah, autor del poemario "Versos de arena". El recital estará dentro de la sección "Una lengua, varios mundos". Espacio pensado como un punto de encuentro para una poesía que se escribe en la misma lengua, el español, y sin embargo reúne una amplia y diversa variedad de hablantes que viven bajo realidades sociales, geográficas, morales, culturales.... bien distintas. LOS ESPACIOS DE LA POESIA. Jornadas de poesía universal en la UAM, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Aula de Vídeo. Módulo II, 14.00 - 15.30.
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