WEEKS 19-20 : 02.05.-15.05.2004
The Saharawi minister for Culture and Sport, Mariam Hamada, sent a letter to the International Federation for Football FIFA, in which she questions whether Morocco is eligible or capable of organising a football world cup.
Omulo Okoth, in The East African Standard, talks of a Moroccan propaganda campaign aimed at tarnishing the reputation of South Africa: security risks, terrorism, problems arising from health and poverty (sic). Morocco had the advantage of important support from various quarters and sent Prince Moulay Rachid to Zürich. At the beginning of April King M6 decorated Sepp Blatter..., but all to no avail. Morocco is not up to it.
The UGTSARIO (General Workers Union of Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro) expresses its opinion on the position of Moroccan trades unions on the confl
The Council of Ministers adopted the draft laws governing commerce in the refugee camps, as well as laws governing the role of lawyers in the three judiciary bodies of the Republic. (SPS)
Responding to a question on France's position, President Mohamed Abdelaziz considers that "France is more royalist than the king. By giving diplomatic cover to Rabat's pretensions, France has obliged Morocco to submit itself to international law. I deplore the position of France, which is a great power". Concerning a possible meeting with Mr Zapatero, Mohamed Abdelaziz replies that "as it happens contact is being made at the moment at the level of the two foreign ministers and the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE). We will probably meet." (L'Expression, Alger)
Mohamed Abdelaziz adds, a few days later in the Madrid daily ABC, that it would be desirable for Spain to draw France into its wake and for the two countries to commit themselves to the defence of international law. "It would be a monumental muddle to fall into the same mistakes that they have been blamed for in the Iraq crisis. In the Saharawi case, the peace plan doesn't require any coalitions or military deployment."
the new Spanish government
The position of Spain on the question of Western Sahara, following the change in government and the arrival of the Socialist Party to power, remains ambiguous. Three Spanish political parties, Izquierda Verde (Green Left) IU-ICV, Eusko Alkartasuna EA and the Popular Party PP at the end of April 2004 asked the government to clarify its position on Western Sahara and to support the Baker plan.
"Spain is 'satisfied' with the latest resolution of the UN Security Council, the head of Spanish diplomacy, Miguel Angel Moratinos, declared in Algiers on 3 May. He affirmed that 'Algeria and Spain have always been among those who defended the right to self-determination for the Saharawi people'." "Spain, he added, supported the resolution completely including all the elements of the Baker plan, and pronounces itself in favour of a political agreement between the parties". (agencies)
In an interview for Jeune Afrique/L'intelligent, he underlines that "the time has come to resolve once and for all [the conflict in Western Sahara]. It has gone on too long. It is time to give the Saharawis a "new situation". For me, the refugee camps, whether in Palestine or Tindouf, should be on the conscience of all societies. We are in a new context. Obviously, there is the United Nations which we mustn't forget. The Baker plan is our "point of reference". The right to self-determination of the Saharawi people must remain a "basic" element. But we must also encourage "bilateral" efforts.
"Four-way Conference ?"
To divert the will of the United Nations, France (or Spain? or the two together?) would envisage a conference bringing together Morocco, Algeria, Spain and France, to find a way out of the Saharawi conflict. Algeria, through the voice of its foreign minister, Mr. Abdelaziz Belkhadem, spelt out a firm and categorical refusal to any diplomatic move which attempted to set aside the peace plan drawn up by James Baker and endorsed by the UN. "It is yet another failure of French diplomacy, which wants at any price to annex the Saharawi territories to Morocco", Mr Sidati (Saharawi minister for Europe) pointed out.
Questioned on his reaction to the words of the head of the Spanish government Zapatero, who spoke of respecting the rights of all the parties in the conflict, Mr Khaddad, Saharawi Coordinator with MINURSO, replied, in an interview with the Spanish daily El Pais, that this is not the kind of declaration one would hope to be hearing from a socialist government, adding that "the only party which has rights, is the Saharawi people. Morocco has no rights."
In an interview with ABC, the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Miguel Angel Moratinos, expressed the view that Western Sahara is an essential element in the relations between Spain and Morocco and the whole of the Maghreb. To clarify the position of his government, he explained that Madrid would like to try to conciliate absolute respect for the decisions of the United Nations and a political, consensual agreement between the parties. Such a bilateral political agreement would not be an alternative to the UN plan, but a complement. Recognising that Spanish policy had changed, he affirmed that his government wanted in the first place to reach a solution, a solution which refers to the United Nations and the defence of the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people. For that, it is necessary that the United States, France and Spain should speak with the same voice. "We have initiated with our French colleagues a thought process to find a solution which would satisfy all the principal actors. It would be up to Morocco and the Polisario Front to decide if they accept it or not and to determine their room to manoeuvre."
The American Under-Secretary of State charged with the Near East, Wiliam Burns, in Algiers and in Rabat on the question of the Sahara that "the United-States are not looking to impose any solution on the different parties". They "encourage the Algerian and Moroccan leaders to meet and set themselves to work on building a great Maghreb, with better cooperation and even greater understanding", and to "work together with the personal envoy of the Secretary General of the United Nations, M. James Baker, in search of a political solution, which is in everyone's interests." (agencies)
The second stage in the exchange visits between the refugee camps and Dakhla ended on 7 May. Some 219 persons benefited from this second stage, 242 others had benefited from the first stage between El Ayoun and the camps. After a week's gap, Morocco not having authorised the UNHCR to begin registration of Saharawi families in time, the third stage began in Smara on 14 May. (UNHCR News Stories)
Report on prisons
"In the prison of Al Hoceima, overpopulation is of the order of 640%, in Beni Mellal prison, it stands at 442%, in Laayoune the percentage is 407% while in the prison of Berrechid, the surplus detainees represent 320%, and in the civil prison of Kenitra, prison overcrowding is around 270%. ( Le Matin.ma)
Death under torture
A 30 year old Saharawi, Chouihi Slimane, living in Tighmert near Goulimine, died following torture suffered in the Centre of the Royal Gendarmerie in Goulimine. Following a complaint of a hunting rifle which had disappeared, the police entered the home of Slimane, beating the mother and brothers and sisters of the deceased, who was looking after his herd. Slimane then presented himself on 29 April at the Goulimine police station, where he was tortured then transported, dying to hospital, where he is thought to have died on arrival. After a first autopsy on the spot, which concluded a natural death, a large popular demonstration took place on 1 May outside the Prefecture, demanding an inquiry. A second autopsy was carried out in Casablanca, which revealed fractures and a cerebral haemorrhage. On 7 May another demonstration brought together 600 people outside the Gendarmerie. The family refused to bury the victim before the truth was known and the guilty singled out.
A third autopsy conducted in Rabat confirmed the conclusions of the preceding one, and the family recovered the body in Rabat on 14 May.
Following an inquiry by the public prosecutor in Rabat, the commandant of the judicial police in Goulimine and his deputy and an "executive" were "struck from the ranks" of the police force. They were accused of brutality leading to death. The commanding officer of the region and the company commander were relieved of their functions for negligence. (AFP) >> more information and media coverage
the regional context:
The region of Tighmert, the largest oasis in Oued Noun whose agricultural lands are in use by the Saharawis, possesses underground water whose size has only become known recently. This region attracts big Moroccan agri-businesses, which are creating a conflict with the local people. Incidents were already taking place in September 2003. (see weeks 40-44/2003)
Comité de jumelage Gonfreville l'Orcher
Une délégation de 14 personnes, composée d'élus conduits par Jean-Paul Lecoq et de membres du Comité de Jumelage de Gonfreville l'Orcher s'est rendue dans le camp de réfugiés sahraouis de J'Réfia, du 17 au 23 avril 2004, pour célébrer le 10ème anniversaire de la signature du jumelage entre les deux villes.
04.05.04 a las 19,30 se inaugura en la Sala de Exposiciones situada en el Polideportivo de Soraluze (Gipuzkoa) una exposición fotográfica de Jose Luis Irigoien sobre los campamentos saharauis de refugiados. Cualquier importe producto de la venta de las fotografías será entregado integramente al representante en Euskadi de la RASD. Está exposición puede ser solicitada a su autor quien la cede gratuitamente para el fin previsto: ayuda a los refugiados saharauis. Anteriormente ha estado expuesta en Bilbao, Gasteiz, Oyarzun, Zaldibar, Eibar. Consta de 80 fotografías en blanco y negro, emulsión de plata, papel baritado, viradas al selenio, de tamaño de imagen 30 x 40 cm y montadas en passpartout de 40 x 50 cm. email: firstname.lastname@example.org , tfno: 943206637
El documental Sahara Marathon, del realizador oñatiarra Aitor Arregi ha sido seleccionado para participar en la I edición del Festival Internacional de Documentales de la Ciudad de Madrid (Documenta Madrid 2004) y en la 19 edición del Festival de Munich que se celebrará próximamente. (Diario Vasco)
Dos producciones españolas (Extranjeras, de Helena Taberna, y Sahara Marathon, de Jon Garaño y Aitor Arregi) han obtenido sendos galardones en el III Encuentro Hispanoamericano de Vídeo Documental Independiente de México, que se ha celebrado entre el 23 y 30 de abril. (...) Por su parte, Sahara Marathon, de Jon Garaño y Aitor Arregi, ha obtenido uno de los galardones honoríficos del festival: el premio "Vitral", que otorga el Movimiento Nacional de Vídeo de Cuba.(Cinered)
I Sestesi per i Saharawi
In occasione del XXXI anniversario della fondazione del Fronte POLISARIO Giovedì 20 maggio 2004, Ore 20.00 CENA di solidarietà con proiezione del film girato durante il volo di gennaio 2004 c/o il Circolo Arci La Costituzione Via Gramsci 560.Prezzo 20 euro
Kamal Fadel, POLISARIO representative, speak on the conflict in Western Sahara:Wellington: Thursday May 27, 1pm @ Victoria University, Rm 304 Cotton Building.
Christchurch: Thursday May 27, 7:30pm @ Peeto, Cnr Peterborugh & Madras St.
Lincoln Friday May 28, 12.40pm @ Totara Room, Union Building, Lincoln University.
Auckland Monday May 31, 7.30pm @ St Columba Centre, 40 Vermont St, Ponsonby.
National tour information: email@example.com
Toledo: "Hablemos del Sahara, rompamos el bloqueo informativo", 2ª Conferencia Internacional sobre la Informacion en el Sahara Occidental, Toledo 28, 29 y 30 Mayo 2004. Info: Coordinadora Estatal de Asociaciones de Solidaridad con el Sahara firstname.lastname@example.org >>Web-site
[External links to newspapers may not be valid after some days because the servers are restarted]
Les dépêches, articles, etc, sur Sahara-Info, liste de courrier (français et espagnol): http://es.groups.yahoo.com/group/sahara-info/messages
Sahara occidental, La controverse devant les Nations unies, Laurent Pointier, Karthala, 2004, 226 p.
English publications on Sahara Update mailinglist: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sahara-update/messages
Todos los despachos, articulos de prensa, etc, son acessible en Sahara-Info, lista de correo (castellano y francés): http://es.groups.yahoo.com/group/sahara-info/messages
To receive the Weekly news by e-mail
Click here to subscribe