WEEKS 01 - 02 : 01.01.-15.01.2005
Creation of the Union of Saharawi Journalists and Writers
This new NGO, which brings together Saharawi journalists and writers, intends to "take part in the most efficacious way possible in the national struggle for the independence of Western Sahara". Malainine Lakhal is elected secretary general, the members of the executive board are M'Barka El Mehdi, Saleh Navaa, Hamdi Mahjoub and Salek Muftah, as well as two members from the occupied territories of Western Sahara. [SPS] [communiqués]
Mohamed Salem El Hadj M'Barek (Paquito, Nourredine) died in the Netherlands following a serious illness. He had joined the Polisario Front at its inception, took part in the armed struggle, then represented SADR abroad. His tour of duty included Great Britain and Scandinavia, then as ambassador of SADR in Iran and later, India. After becoming seriously ill, he spent the last years of his life in the Basque Country with his wife, Gurrutze known as Fatimetou &endash; who lived through war and exile beside the Saharawis as a nurse. The late talented diplomat and indefatiguable activist was widely known for his joviality and sense of humour.[>>special page with tributes and condolences]
The annual national conference of the Committee of external relations is held in the presence of the ambassadors and representatives of the Polisario Front in Europe and the staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The secretary general of the Union of Youth UJSARIO presents a detailed report on the summer holidays of Saharawi children abroad, which benefits thousands of children each summer, discussing difficulties encountered and ways of avoiding them in future.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ould Salek expresses his view on the past year and the program for the year 2005.
The President of the Saharawi Red Crescent, Mr. Bouhoubeyni Yahya, warns of the precarious humanitarian situation in the camps, calling on the international community to increase their assistance.
The Association of Families of Saharawi Prisoners and Disappeared (AFAPREDESA) reports on the dramatic situation existing in the occupied territories of Western Sahara.
Finally, Mr. Mohamed Khaddad, member of the National Secretariat and coordinator with MINURSO, looks at the latest developments of the Saharawi question in the light of Security Council resolution 1570.
The Conference pays a heartfelt tribute to Mohamed Salem El Hadj M'Barek. [SPS]
SADR agrees, for incomprehensible reasons, to authorise the Barcelona-Dakar Rally to cross its territory, after making contact several times during the year 2004 with the organisers, without, for all that, being mentioned as a country on the itinerary or being shown on the official website's map!!! [SPS]
The winter session of the National Council examines the reports of the ministers of the Interior, of Justice and Islamic Affairs, as well as that of the Secretariat of State for Public Office, SPS reports laconically.
"Fishing boats belonging to army officers have been observed, mid-week, 5 miles off the coast of Dakhla. Fishing is however, strictly forbidden less than 12 miles off-shore... The ministry, which has a GPS detection system, could not be ignorant of this incursion. Neither could the royal navy, which is supposed to be monitoring the situation. So...?" [Tel Quel No 158]
Repression, blunders and other abuses..
A young Saharawi high school pupil, Khatri Laaroussi, is killed by a Moroccan policeman who was driving in a drunken state. The family of the victim lodged a complaint but until now no judicial action has been taken.[AFAPREDESA] [Cahiers du Sahara, in Arabic]
The management of the black prison refuses to release a Saharawi citizen, Haddi Cherif, who has just completed his two year term in detention. [Cahiers du Sahara, in Arabic]
Prisoners of conscience in the black prison (Carcel negra) decide to create "a committee for the protection of Saharawi detainees". They denounce "the serious human rights abuses occurring in the occupied territories of Western Sahara", and exhort the Moroccan occupation authorities to comply with international conventions relating to civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights", as well as to the "Geneva Convention relating to the protection of civil population in time of war". [SPS] [Statement in Arabic]
In Goulimine in southern Morocco, Saharawi unemployed graduates have been holding a sit-in since 3 January outside the town offices "protesting against their marginalisation by the Moroccan authorities and claiming their right to work". The security forces intervene savagely on 6 January and disperse the gathering, seriously wounding three people including one woman.
In Assa (south of Morocco), Saharawi unemployed graduates, holding a sit-in outside the office of the pacha since mid-November, start an unlimited hunger strike on 5 January. Their state of health "has seriously worsened", SPS announces.
Meanwhile the Moroccan authorities proceed with searching (without warrants) the houses of the parents of the demonstrators to intimidate them. But the families declare themselves to be in solidarity with the demonstrators and some mothers join the sit-in. [COMMUNIQUÉ AFAPREDESA, 08/01/05]
The local Committee of the International Campaign for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in Western Sahara in a statement proclaims its solidarity with the strikers and asks the Moroccan authorities to accede to their demands.[Cahiers du Sahara in Arabic] [in Arabic, see also the site of Cahiers du Sahara]
On the eve of the official visit of the King of Spain to Morocco on 16 and 17 January and after a recent inquiry on the ground, AI conveys to the sovereign its concern for the human rights situation in Morocco and Western Sahara. The NGO points out in particular the question of the Sahara, freedom of expression, womens' rights and torture. [El Mundo 14.01.05]
Saharawi human rights activists relate in a statement conditions surrounding the visit of the AI delegation to Tan-Tan, Smara and El Ayoun. They protest against the extensive police surveillance of the delegation, followed everywhere they went, as well as against intimidations undergone by persons giving testimony and their families who were subjected to interrogation. [Statement by Saharawi activists after the visit of Mr Philip Luther to Western Sahara. 12.01.05 in Arabic]
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs replies to the Japanese NGOs which had written to it in October. It expresses assurance that their country, as a member of the Security Council in 2005, intends to cooperate with the other members to support the mediation efforts of the Secretary General, but has no intention of recognising SADR.[corr.]
In his new year's message, Thabo M'Beki hopes that significant progress will be made towards the solution of the problems confronting the peoples of Palestine, Israel, Iraq and Western Sahara.[news24]
Moratinos in Algiers
Questioned on the issue of Western Sahara, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs affirms that "Spain and Algeria have the capacity of their influence to help the two parties in the conflict, Morocco and the Polisario Front, to move towards the settlement of the conflict in accordance with international law." [AFP, 07.01.05]
The US company, Kerr-McGee, benefiting from oil exploration contracts granted by Morocco since 2001, remains the last company active in the territory, after the withdrawal of Total in November 2004. [Weekly news 49-50/2004]
It is the target of a coordinated international action, which aims to blacklist the shares of the company, because of its activities denounced as immoral, illegal and irresponsible, with supporting documents. Associations from 14 countries on 4 continents write to screening agencies specialising in sustainable development and social responsibility. These agencies evaluate and assess businesses using ethical, environmental and social criteria. These criteria increasingly influence the choices made by public and private investors, pension funds, long term investment funds, etc. The intervention at this level bore fruit in Norway, where, under pressure from shareholders the company TGS-Nopec, sub-contracted by Kerr-McGee, abandoned any collaboration in Western Sahara. It was the same for Fugro NL and more recently, Thor Offshore Services (Faroe Islands).[Campaign Documents] [Natural resources:file on oil exploration]
The unified Socialist Left (GSU) and the Progress and Socialism Party (PPS) decide to work together to defend a political solution to the question of the Sahara through a "democratic management", guaranteeing the "sovereignty" of Morocco over "its southern provinces" and granting their populations "wide autonomy" in the management of their affairs, within the context of a policy of integrated regionalisation.[MAP]
The Committee of Foreign Affairs of the Chamber of Representatives adopts by a majority the Morocco-USA FTA, without having read it, according to Le Monde. The Chamber of Deputies does the same on 13. This agreement, which has still to be adopted at a second reading by the Chamber of Councillors (Senate), covers "the whole of the Moroccan territory including the Saharan provinces of the south", according to the minister-delegate for Foreign Affairs, Taieb Fassi Fihri. The American representative for Commerce, Robert Zoellick, had affirmed the contrary [letter] namely that the agreement concerns "the territory of Morocco recognised internationally and does not include Western Sahara", in a letter sent to an American parliamentarian.[AFP]
[External links to newspapers may not be valid after some days because the servers are restarted]
Revue de la presse internationale francophone http://fr.groups.yahoo.com/group/revue-de-presse-sahara-occidental/messages
Boukhreis Habib:« Le rapprochement entre Madagascar et Maroc ne nous gêne pas», Tiana R., La Gazette de la Grande Ile", 14 janvier 2005.
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