WEEKS 39-40 : 19.09.-02.10.2004
An Belgian interparliamentary delegation carried out a visit to the Saharawi refugee camps. Consisting of Pierre Galand (Socialist), Jacinta De Roeck (Green and Socialist) and Jean Cornil (Socialist), the group sought information on the situation of the refugees and had talks with leaders of the Polisario on the latest developments relative to the settlement plan for the conflict. Pierre Galand pointed out, in a speech, that "there is no assembly in the world which does not recognise the legitimate right of the Saharawi people", he believed that the Saharawi struggle fosters "legitimacy and peaceful coexistence between the peoples of the world". [El Moudjahid,16.09.04]
Recognition of SADR by South Africa (continued)
The President of the Republic, Mohamed Abdelaziz, sent a message of congratulations to the South African president Thabo Mbeki, expressing the view that the initiative of recognising SADR and establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries will not fail to apply extra pressure on Morocco to comply with international law and to organise a referendum of self-determination for the Saharawi people. [complete text English]. Many messages welcoming the move were also sent to South Africa by politicians, parliamentarians, associations and NGOs from around the world.
The letter through which South Africa had announced and explained its decision to recognise SADR to the Moroccan authorities has been made public. [Letter of President Thabo M'Beki to the king of Morocco Mohamed VI, 01.08.04 ] [Lettre du Président Thabo M'Beki au roi Mohamed VI du Maroc, 01.08.04]
South Africa's decision keeps making waves in Morocco, where one notes on one hand virulent criticisms of the government's policy and Moroccan diplomacy, and on the other hand a bitter campaign against Algeria, held responsible for all evil and accused of bellicose intentions. [Reactions, press review, .... >> special page set up
A national conference devoted to the management of the Saharawi state brought together the government and officials from various levels and sectors. The head of government, who presided over the meeting gave a positive picture of the administration of the state since its creation. The participants nevertheless made many suggestions for reorganisation and technical reform to deal more effectively with the challenges of the developing Saharawi society.
OCCUPIED TERRITORIES &endash; SAHARAWI RESISTANCE
This month of September is characterised by an increase in militant activities in the whole of the territory occupied by Morocco as well as in the towns of southern Morocco with a significant Saharawi population.
Saharawi activists announce the setting up of a committee against torture, "in order to break the media black-out imposed by the Moroccan government on Saharawi territory and the isolation of this coastal town from the other towns under Moroccan occupation." [SPS] [AFAPREDESA, 15.09.04] [ Comité de Acción Contra la Tortura en Dajla, 27.09.04]
Prison in El Ayoun
Saharawi political detainees denounce "the dangerous process which human rights are encountering in the occupied territories of Western Sahara" and demand "the immediate liberation of all Saharawi political prisoners and for light to be shed on the fate of the disappeared". [Comunicado"presos políticos saharauis en la cárcel negra" 27.09.04]
Saharawi human rights defenders call for "all human rights organisations to intervene with the Moroccan authorities to put an end to the serious abuses perpetrated by Morocco in the occupied territories of Western Sahara", underlining that the two victims of a summary sentence (Haddad and Fakak) had only expressed "their support for the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination". The Association of Families of Saharawi prisoners and disappeared (AFAPREDESA) and the Union of Saharawi Lawyers (UJS) had already condemned these "serious violations of the right of each person to a fair and just trial".
Saharawi unemployed graduates from Goulimin announce the creation of an Association for unemployed Saharawi graduates. They organise a sit-in outside Goulimin town hall after the municipal authorities had refused to register the association and they line the streets afterwards calling out slogans hostile to the colonial occupation of Western Sahara. They show solidarity with their brothers in the occupied territories on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the Intifada of "Place D'Cheira". The Moroccan police disperse the demonstrators with batons and tear gas. [SPS]
Agadir &endash; Abduction
A Saharawi citizen, Yahya Mohamed El Hafed, alias Azza, was arrested and imprisoned without trial in the prison of Galat ben Sergaou (Agadir), on 16 September last, according to his father. The former soldier had been recruited by force in the Moroccan armed forces in 1987 and demobilised two years ago. He had gone to Agadir military barracks in response to a summons by the royal gendarmerie. His blind father, suffering from war wounds, who was accompanying him at the moment of his arrest, was left without any means to return to Tan-Tan. El Hafed was freed on 28.09.04 in Rabat, after having been interrogated and tortured by the 5th bureau, military security.
The Collective of Saharawi Human Rights Defenders in the territory of Western Sahara under Moroccan control and the Committee of victims of abduction of Smara strongly condemned this act. [Statement of the Committee of Victims of events of Smara, 24.09.04] [Communiqué de Ali Salem Tamek, 23.09.04] >> Arabic text on his release
3000 people demonstrated in the streets of Assa for several hours on the occasion of the 12th anniversary of the intifada of 1992, which was repressed with bloodshed. The demonstrators chanted slogans hostile to the occupation of Western Sahara and in favour of the Polisario Front and the independence of Western Sahara. The whole town was heavily patrolled by a big reinforcement of police.
Two other demonstrations for independence were held on 7 and 14 September, in this town of southern Morocco populated principally by Saharawis. [week 37-38/2004] [REPORT about the resistance of the Saharawi people against Moroccan occupation. 1992 - 2004]
A young Saharawi, Cheikh Bneiba, was arrested following an argument with Moroccan settlers, who tried to force him into their house to torture him. The Moroccan police dispersed with truncheon blows the numerous Saharawis who came to the rescue of their compatriot. [corr]
Ahmed Naciri continues to suffer threats and harrassment by the Moroccan authorities. At the beginning of September, the governor of Smara, Abdelkrim Bezzâa, summoned him to stop any human rights activities, failing which he could expect something worse. He required from him a letter "begging for pity" to find a job and wage in the administration. Earlier several emissaries from the authorities had already intimated to Naciri that he must be silent if he wanted to avoid reprisals.[Appeal from the former political detainee Ahmed Naciri, 30.09.04] [Statement from the Committee of victims of the events of Smara , 30.09.04]
Dakhla - Arrest
A Saharawi citizen, Balla Salmi Bouaâilla, born in 1977 in El Ayoun, was arrested and taken to the central police station. Saharawi citizens immediately gathered outside the building and organised a sit-in to protest at this arbitrary arrest, shouting slogans hostile to the Moroccan occupier and calling for the immediate release of the detainee. The next day the demonstrations took place outside the court where the trial of the detainee was taking place. Balla has been condemned to a suspended sentence of 2 month and a fine of 500 dirhams.
Balla Salmi Bouaâilla is part of a family in which three members have been victims of abduction: Nbghouha in 1989, Dawh in 1991 and Mailah in 1992 . [corr.] ["Intifada" attempts in Western Sahara, Morocco, afrol News, 1.10.04]
>> News on the occupied territories and southern Morocco can be found on the News-BLOG SAHARA LIBRE
Equity and Reconciliation in Western Sahara (IER)
In accordance with its mandate to settle once and for all the consequences of human rights abuses, delegations of the IER met in El Ayoun victims in ill health and in Smara, families of disappeared Saharawis. Over 400 cases of illness, excluding victims from the mines, have been counted, including some who require urgent attention, but nothing has been done up until now. A group of associations of victims and families of victims as well as human rights activists handed a memorandum to the IER http://alisalemtamek.site.voila.fr/MemoSahara.pdf, which the delegation initially refused, but finally accepted on 5 May 2004. But the IER has not invited its authors to discuss it and has not published this document on its website, on which all the other documents given to the IER can be found.
The special representative of the United Nations Secretary General for Western Sahara, Alvaro De Soto, was received in Nouakchott by the Mauritanian President Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya.
UN General Assembly
During the general debate, several speakers brought up the conflict in Western Sahara:
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika affirmed that any attempt to take the question of Western Sahara out of its place as a decolonisation issue "could only lead to failure". Bouteflika underlined that the conflict in Western Sahara is "a problem of incomplete decolonisation". He emphasised the fact that Algeria "cannot and will not substitute for the the people of Western Sahara in the determination of its future", which is an allusion notably to France's appeals for direct negotiations between Morocco and Algeria.
While the Moroccan press allowed it to be understood that the king would make a new proposal for the resolution of the conflict, Mohamed VI only repeated his usual talk of territorial integrity and national sovereignty.
The Spanish Prime Minister declared himself in favour of a just and lasting political solution to the conflict in Western Sahara, accepted by all the parties and which respects the principle resolutions of the United Nations. He called for all the parties concerned to redouble their efforts towards a dialogue and negotiations established by the United Nations to resolve a conflict, which has, in his words, lasted too long.
The representatives of Tanzania, Namibia, Lesotho, Mauritania and Guinea raised in their speeches the necessity of settling the question of Western Sahara within the UN framework.
The Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Moratinos, met around the time of the General Assembly with his Saharawi counterpart, Ould Salek, accompanied by the Saharawi Ambassador in Washington, Mouloud Saïd and the UN representative Ahmed Boukhari. Moratinos, in a statement to the press, confirmed the support of his government for the Baker plan, underlining, however, that "Spain has always talked of adjustments to the Baker plan". He declared that the Saharawi delegation "had shown enormous suspicion and great concern" about the role of the Spanish government, but that "confidence had been re-established". The Spanish minister called the meeting "very positive, very interesting and very useful", adding that "the Saharawis can have legitimate aspirations, but they must understand that , as Spanish political representatives we have to do something".
Moratinos declared the next day that he was consulting "all the parties" on the Western Sahara conflict, pointing out that he had also talked with the King of Morocco, the American deputy Secretary of State, William Burns, the Algerian President and the Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian and Mauritanian Foreign Secretaries. He made clear that he would continue his efforts to convince Paris, standing firm with the Moroccan position, to take a step in the direction of Madrid, close to the Polisario Front. [El Pais in Sahara-Info]
The Polisario Front coordinator with MINURSO, Mohamed Khaddad, said that "the ball is in Morocco's court" after the country refused the Baker plan. In an interview published by the London daily "El Hayat", Mr. Khaddad expressed the view that Rabat "lacks the courage to put forward acceptable proposals". "The international community has granted Morocco sufficient time to find a solution", Mr Khaddad considers.
Sitting in Guatemala-City, the Parliament of Central America (PARLACEN), which brings together Costa Rica, Belize, Guatemala, Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, adopted a resolution of "support for self-determination for the people of SADR, exhorting parliaments across the world to "support SADR and its territorial integrity, as well as the aspirations of its people for peace and progress". Recalling the terms of a previous resolution adopted in 2000 [week 05/2000], the Parliament reaffirmed its support for the "just struggle of the people of SADR for the consecration of its national self-determination, for peace and building democracy through our moral support and solidarity."
Morocco published the Memorandum which it sent to the Secretary General for the debate in the Security Council on the extension of MINURSO's mandate.
[Mémorandum adressé le 24 septembre par le Maroc au Secrétaire général des Nations unies, M. Kofi Annan.]
[Memorandum del Reino de Marruecos sobre el diferendo regional relativo al Sahara 24 septiembre de 2004, dirigido al secretario general de la ONU]
[Memorandum of the Kingdom of Morocco on the regional dispute on the Sahara September 24, 2004 , addressed to the UN Secretary-General.]
Publication by the UN of the Memorandum sent by the Polisario Front, on 1 September 2004, to the member states with a view to the debates of the General Assembly.
[Memorandum by the Frente POLISARIO addressed to the Member States of the United Nations, 01.09.04 HTML - PDF]
[Mémoire du Front POLISARIO sur la question du Sahara occidental, adressé aux États Membres de l'Organisation des Nations Unies, 01.09.04 HTML - PDF]
[Memorando dirigido a los Estados Miembros de las Naciones Unidas por el Frente POLISARIO, 01.09.04 HTML - PDF]
Special UN page September-October: http://www.arso.org/UN0904.htm
Moratinos, Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, presented himself at his own request to the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, to explain the new "active policy" of his government on the question of Western Sahara. He declared that this will not betray the Baker plan. The next resolution of the Security Council should, according to Moratinos, allow for the extension of MINURSO's mandate, so that current diplomatic efforts might achieve results. The Security Council should also give its special representative Alvaro de Soto a broader mandate, so that, starting from the Baker plan "a dynamic of negotiation could be created that the two parties could accept, in keeping with the principle of free determination of the Saharawi people and which could be submitted to a referendum".
2nd African colloquium on terrorism and cross-border crime
Nineteen African, European, Asian and American countries and officials from Interpol drew up a strategy for the fight against cross-border terrorism and crime in Africa. They committed themselves to conduct "joint cross-border operations to fight terrorist and criminal threats in Africa effectively", a continent which they consider "high risk". These countries are Algeria, United States, France, United Kingdom, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Chad, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Cambodia, Benin, Burundi, Togo and Mauritania, meeting for discussion in Noukchott. [agencies].
First conference of regional European and African assemblies in Florence
About a hundred official delegations and representatives from thirty African countries took part in this first conference on the theme "Decentralisation: the new dimension of democracy, peace and development".
The Vice-President of the Regional Council of Tuscany, Enrico Cecchetti, reiterated in his speech, the support of his region for "the struggle of the Saharawi people for its right to self-determination". Mansour Omar, wali of El Ayoun, who led the official Saharawi delegation, thanked the Tuscan officials for "their constant support" for the Saharawi people. Tuscany has allocated aid to 30 African countries, including 13% of it for SADR.
This conference was jointly organised by the Tuscany region, the Conference of European regional legislative assemblies (CALRE), the Italian Presidency, the UN Economic and Social Department with patronage from the European Union, the Council of Europe and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
APPEAL FOR THE DEFENCE OF SAHARAWI HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS, BIRDHSO, September 2004
Abdoullahi Lakhfaouni, a Saharawi imprisoned since 2000 in the central prison of Kenitra (Morocco) and sentenced to 7 years and 5 years in prison, was attacked by an employee of the prison, Daoudi Moustapha. Last August some of his personal possessions were stolen, but his complaint had no result. Lakhfaouni, who considers himself a political prisoner, is turning to human rights organisations to put an end to his bad treatment, malnutrition, lack of medical care and other human rights abuses of the most elementary kind to which he is subjected. [Testimony from inside Moroccan prisons " Abdullahi Lakhfaouni" 17.09.04, AFAPREDESA] [Testimonio del interior de las cárceles marroquíes " Abdallahi Ouali Lajfaoui",17.09.04, AFAPREDESA]
A Belgian senator, Pierre Galand, on return from a mission to the refugee camps, declared that "the principle donors of aid, Europe and the United States, had reduced or ended their aid because of pressure and the propaganda by the Moroccan authorities and their allies". "These campaigns have made out that the food aid is misappropriated, but missions of inquiry sent by international organisations, notably World Food Program and UN High Commission for Refugees, have totally denied these allegations", the senator indicated during a press conference in Brussels. Galand considers that the food stocks available to 160,000 Saharawi refugees have reached the level of high alert, with only food for a month and a half left, "while international norms provide for stocks of three months".[aps]
A group of Arab intellectuals, including university teachers, lawyers, doctors, journalists and writers, announced in Beirut the constitution of a Committee of Support for the Saharawi people. It wants to work for the right to self-determination and independence of the Saharawi people and raise awareness in Arab countries of the suffering experienced by this people for over three decades. [SPS]
Letter to the Spanish Prime Minister, Zapatero
A group of representatives of culture handed to the Palace of Moncloa, the seat of government, a new list of signatures to the letter sent on 19 July last by over 200 writers and artists [week 31-32] . The new signatories include famous names such as the Nobel prize winner, José Saramago, Federico Mayor Zaragoza, President of the Foundation "Culture and Peace" the former president of UNESCO, Belén Gopegui, Antonio Gala, Juan Genovés, Javier Sádaba... who join the list which has now acquired 400 names. To this an additional letter comes from the Association of veterans of the Spanish army of Ifni 1956-1960 as well as two thousand first signatures of citizens of Spain, from the whole world including the camps and the occupied territories of Western Sahara. [letter in Spanish ].
Viernes 15 de Octubre 2004 19:30 Presentación del
monográfico de ariadna-rc.
La memoria en la cultura saharaui. Recital de poesía saharaui.
Biblioteca regional de Madrid "joaquín leguina", C/.Ramírez de Prado 3, 28045 Madrid Tfnos. 917 208 850 917 208 860 Fax:917 208 890
Western Sahara Association presents as part of Refugee Week with the
theme "A journey of understanding to respect and hope":
In MELBOURNE, a photo exhibition and a film about the Australian delegation to the Saharawi refugee camps in April 2004. 26 October-5 November: Photo exhibition "Waiting..." - black and white photographs taken by Georgia Vlassopoulos. On Friday 29 October, 6.00-8.00 pm: Opening of the exhibition by Jean McLean and screening of the film "it's a long way to Tifariti" to be presented by Sydney-based film maker Yvette Andrews. At the New International Bookshop Gallery, Victorian Trades Hall.
In SYDNEY, The Heart of the Sahara &endash; a musical benefit for the Saharawi refugees with the Café of the Gate of Salvation (Sydney's premier a cappella choir) Mohamed Bangoura (African drumming & dance) Wednesday 27 October The Basement-Sydney.
L'autodétermination du Sahara Occidental 1974 - 2004 . Analyses, réflexions, témoignages:
Un Hogar Saharaui: " Té y Tertulia"
Un rincón para discutir, debatir y analizar el conflicto del Sahara Occidental, además de otros temas que preocupan a los Saharauis. La participacion de todos los interesados es bienvenida.
[External links to newspapers may not be valid after some days because the servers are restarted]
>> Revue de la presse internationale francophone
English publications on Sahara Update mailinglist: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sahara-update/messages