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Moroccan prisoners of war
The International Red Cross proceeded to repatriate 243 Moroccan prisoners of war released by the Polisario Front. Among these prisoners there are 13 officers and 14 civilians. The prisoners were handed over to the regional delegate of the International Red Cross during an official ceremony chaired by the president of the Saharawi Red Crescent, Boullahi Siid, and in the presence of members of staff of the Saharawi Popular Army of Liberation.
During the ceremony, Mr Schmid de Grueneck indicated that "ancient fighters claimed to be missing by Polisario had been located and visited by the International Red Cross, the last time in May 2003." According to the Red Cross in Tunis, contacted by ARSO, only a few people have been located, who represent, with the 24 others discovered and met in 2001, about 30 persons. The International Red Cross delegate has furthermore promised to continue research to shed light on the fate of the persons not yet discovered.
The prisoners were handed over to the Moroccan authorities at Inezgane base, near Agadir, where they will remain for three weeks. "Numerous families have had to demonstrate in order to be able to visit their relatives, for just one hour" (As-Sabah, 05.09.03) The Moroccan weekly TEL QUEL published on 12.09.03 a long report on the conditions for welcoming the prisoners in Morocco as well as testimonies of former prisoners.(CICR News)
Report of the Foundation France Libertés on the conditions of detention of Moroccan POWS held by the Polisario Front
Response of the Polisario Front
The Polisario Front published its response to the report by the Foundation France Libertés, refuting the accusations put. The document comprises 24 pages and several appendices. It reviews point by point the accusations put forward by the mission of enquiry. It points out contradictions and exaggerations, and indicates names of unknown prisoners (since they are all registered with the International Red Cross), announces as living prisoners declared deceased and contests practically all the accusations. The PF judges the report of France Libertés to be «partial, unbalanced and dishonest" and reproaches the Foundation for its lack of vigilance and rigour, which damages its credibility. It speaks of a mission which is more of a "commission". Full texts to read or download in PDF formate.
24.09.03: A representative of the Saharawi authorities is received by Mrs Danielle Mitterrand, President of the Foundation France Libertés. El Khalil Sidi M'Hamed, member of the National Secretariat of the Polisario Front, took a letter from Mohamed Abdelaziz, President of SADR, concerning the response of the Polisario Front to the accusations of the Foundation. (SPS with full text letter)
>> Other documents on the same subject.
an everyday basis
The Saharawi human rights defender Hammad Hmad on 7 September was the victim once again of intimidation by the Moroccan authorities. He was arrested at night 15 km to the south-west of El Ayoun at a police barrier. He was submitted to interrogation on the reasons for his late journey. His car was thoroughly searched. We are also told of two other Saharawis, street sweepers, being mistreated by gendarmes at their place of work, one of them had to be hospitalised it is claimed. A woman who protested against the sentence of her son was said to be taken to prison on 18.09.03.
17.09.03: The nine young Saharawis from the "Smara group", arrested in September 2001 during uprisings in Smara (see weekly news week 47/2001 ) and sentenced on 24.04.02 to two years in prison (see weekly news, week 17/2002) have been released at the end of their sentence. One of them, Nafi Maslah Hamadha El Mousaoui (Nefi/Nafâi), has been held for unknown reasons at the moment he was getting ready to leave the prison. Mohamed Daddach and friends who wanted to welcome the former prisoners as they left the prison were warned by the police that they were forbidden to enter into contact with them. (corr.) (communiqué French - Spanish)
21.09.03: Eleven young Saharawi students, aged from 20 to 25 years, have managed to get to the Saharawi refugee camps in Algeria from the occupied territories, fleeing repression, following their participation in various peaceful demonstrations for the respect of human rights in Western Sahara... (communiqué AFAPREDESA French)
23.09.03: On the occasion of the new school year the Moroccan authorities have proceeded with abusive transfers of numerous Saharawi teachers to Moroccan towns. At the present time we are aware of a dozen cases including five with detailed information. Other sources consider that 80 Saharawi civil servants, or even more, may have been transferred. This would concern human rights activists and trades unionists, moved away because of their civilian activities:
1. Lidri Elhoucine: member of the executive of the former Forum for Truth and Justice Sahara branch (FVJSAH) and member of the former committee to liberate Daddach, philosophy teacher at the high school, was moved to Chichawa. This activist had asked last year for transfer to Goulimine. When school went back he signed a contract to take up work in Goulimine but the Moroccan Ministry of Education ordered him to present himself at Chichawa, 80 km south of Marrakech.
2. Latif Allal: English teacher at El Ayoun, moved to Erfoud, near Errachidia. He is close to a member of the former FVJSAH. Several times he has demonstrated his solidarity with human rights defenders.
3. Laghzal Elloud: teacher at El Ayoun. He is the brother of the former Saharawi political detainee Laghzal Brahim. He has been moved to Khenifra in the High Atlas mountains.
4. Mayara Mohamed Salem: teacher at El Ayoun. He is a member of the executive of the former FVJSAH and member of the former committee for Daddach. He has been moved to Elhawz near Marrakech.
5. Iguilid Hammoudi: philosophy teacher in El Ayoun. President of the local branch of AMDH. He has been moved to Erfoud.
Teachers demonstrated in El Ayoun and in Boujdour with a 24 hour strike of solidarity with the people who have been transferred.
A delegation made up of about fifty representatives from economic milieux of the Canary Islands and the Azores went to Western Sahara, in the aim of improving commercial relations with - to use their expression - "the South of Morocco". The trip, which the Spanish government tried to prevent, was supposed to take place discreetly. At the end of the visit of businesses and infrastructure utilities in El Ayoun and Dakhla, an agreement was signed between the Chambers of Commerce of the Canaries, the Azores and the "South of Morocco" concerning the development of economic and cultural relations. The Polisario Front representative in the Canaries accused the president of the Canaries Chamber of Commerce of "violating international law by trying to pillage the wealth of a colonised people." (afrol news and other agencies)
Appeal to the Security Council
The Polisario Front asks the Security Council to "show firmness" with Morocco to make it accept a just and lasting settlement, the Saharawi Minister for Foreign Affairs, Salem Ould Salek affirmed. He accused Morocco of being "the principal obstacle to peace in the region", and denounced the international campaign being carried out by Morocco aiming for the rejection of the new Baker plan.
Delegations of tribal chiefs (sic!) and members of the Moroccan Consultative Council for Saharan Affairs, including several defectors from the Polisario Front, have been criss-crossing European capitals to campaign against the new Baker plan. They met governmental and political officials in Spain, France, Germany, Great Britain and with the European Union. At the same time the King of Morocco met his friend Jacques Chirac in Paris. He addressed the UN General Assembly on 23 September, where he argued "for a realistic and definitive political solution" for the conflict, "respecting Morocco's sovereignty and territorial integrity, as was proposed by the United Nations themselves in June 2001 (reference to the Framework Agreement = Baker plan 1!!]"
During a private meeting between Mohamed VI and George W Bush, the latter is said to have urged the monarch, according to an American official who wishes to remain anonymous, to commit himself in favour of an acceptable resolution of the disputed status in Western Sahara, while assuring him that Washington "will not impose a solution". (agencies)
A delegation of the group from the European Socialist Party received first a Moroccan delegation and then a delegation from the Polisario Front, with the aim of examining the current situation. At the end of these two meetings Pasqualina Napoletano declared that the Group supports the Baker Plan and the efforts of the Polisario, and "asks Morocco to accept the United Nations Plan which could be an element for stability and peace in the region". (communiqué PSE French- communiqué Sidati 25.09.03 French - Spanish)
Before the UN General Assembly the Algerian President emphasised that because of his country's support for the "peace plan for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara", "Algeria again marks its willingness to make a full contribution to the settlement of this conflict within the respect of the right of the people of Western Sahara to decide in a sovereign way its destiny through a free and fair referendum of self-determination organised and supervised by the United Nations."
In the evening the King of Morocco Mohamed VI received the Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. This meeting, which was not planned in the program, was held at the request of the Moroccan party, according to APS.
"No development is possible of Africa without the peace and self-determination of Western Sahara!" 3rd appeal on the occasion of the 3rd conference of TICAD (Tokyo International Conference on African Development)
Dans le cadre de la "Festa nazionale dell'Unità" l'association El Ouali a organisé un débat sur "Le Sahara Marathon, une course pour la paix et les droits humains". Les organisateurs du marathon ont souligné son rôle de sensibilisation de l'opinion publique. Mohamed Sidati, ministre conseiller à la Présidence, a insisté sur la nécessité de faire front commun pour imposer au Maroc une solution juste au Sahara Occidental. Marisa Rodano, secrétaire de l'ANSPS, a appelé à la vigilance au sujet du nouveau plan Baker.
L'Association nationale de solidarité avec le peuple sahraoui (ANSPS) a tenu son assemblée annuelle au siège de la province, avec la participation des associations et des administrations locales. Mohamed Sidati a illustré les raisons qui ont amené le Front Polisario à accepter le plan Baker II. L'assemblée a établi un plan de travail et une nouvelle stratégie pour renforcer sa capacité d'opérer sur le plan national.
02.10.03, Barcelona: Presentació de la 10ena Caravana Catalana Solidaria per el Sàhara, l'acte començarà a les 19 hores del dijous dia 2 d'Octubre al Palau de la Virreina (La Rambla, 99).
Fundación Caja Murcia convoca en el Centro Cultural Las Claras a una serie de expertos en Relaciones Internacionales, Historia, Derecho y el Sáhara Occidental para celebrar unas jornadas específicas sobre el tema. (programma)
Italia, Ferrara: Festival dei Diritti dedicato al continente
L'edizione di quest'anno prevede una fitta serie di appuntamenti, non solo conferenze e dibattiti pubblici, ma anche momenti dedicati alla musica, al teatro ed alla letteratura. Le attività si svilupperanno nel periodo che va da ottobre a dicembre, con una piccola coda nel mese di gennaio e febbraio.
Mercoledì 8 ottobre 2003 si parlerà di Diritti Umani in Sahara Occidentale: Desaparicion e repressione sotto l'occupazione marocchina (ore 21:00 - Casa Cini). Ne parleranno Abdeslam Lahssen, Presidente di Afapredesa (Associazione delle famiglie dei prigionieri e dei desaparecidos Saharawi) e Jacqueline Philippe Responsabile per l'Italia di Birdhso (Ufficio Internazionale per il rispetto dei Diritti umani nel Sahara Occidentale). Sarà presente un rappresentante in Italia del popolo Saharawi.
Il Programma completo sarà disponibile nei prossimi giorni sul sito del Festival: http://www.festivaldeidiritti.it.
Conférence européenne de solidarité avec le
29th European Conference of Solidarity with the Saharawi People
29a Conferencia europea de solidaridad con el pueblo saharaui
5, 6 et 7
Nanterre - Paris - Vitry sur Seine
Info, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
4 au 19 décembre 2003: Tournée en France de Mariem Hassan, Nayim Alal et le groupe de femmes Leyod.
04.12.03, Gonfreville l'Orcher (ECPC), 06.12.03 Le Mans (Palais des Congrès), 07.12.03 Vitry sur Seine (Gymnase Paul Eluard, du 08 au 18.12.03 (sous réserve) Maromme, Achères, Bègles, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Lyon..., 19.12.03 Limoges (théâtre Jean Gagnant).
Documents about Moroccan POWS and France Libertés report (list)
Communiqués des Territoires occupés:
Cambios estratégicos en la negociación del Plan de paz para la libre determinación del pueblo del Sáhara Occidental, Haizam Amirah Fernández, Real Instituto Elcano, 04.09.03.
Self Determination Struggle in the Western Sahara Continues to Challenge the UN, Ian Williams and Stephen Zunes, Silver City, NM & Washington, DC: Foreign Policy In Focus, September 2003.
Estado de la situación sanitaria en los Campamentos de Refugiados de Tindouf, Manuel Galán, técnico de proyectos para África, Médicos del Mundo España, 08.09.03
Actualizacion del web de Um Draiga
[External links to newspapers may not be valid after some days because the servers are restarted]
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