WEEKS 05-06 : 29.01.-11.02.2006
World Social Forum, Caracas
The Polisario Front representative in Venezuela, El Haj Ahmed, spoke at a seminar entitled Western Sahara, an unfinished decolonization. He called for â•þintervention by the international community to protect Saharawi civilians from the savage repression practised by the Moroccan authorities in the occupied territories and in southern Morocco. This seminar was organised by the Organisation for solidarity with Africa, Asia and Latin America (OSPAAAL) and the Spanish Federation of institutions in solidarity with the Sahara (Fedissah).
In their addresses to the seminar, the President of OSPAAAL, Jaime Ballesteros, and his coordinator, Remedios Garcias, as well as their deputies Gustavo Hernandez and Carlos Ortega, president of the Venezuelan parliamentary group of friendship with the Saharawi people, "reaffirmed their solidarity with the Saharawi people in their struggle for liberation, condemning the human rights abuses by Morocco in the occupied territories of Western Sahara".
Representatives of SweFOR (Swedish Fellowship of Reconciliation) and SERPAJ-AL (Servicio Paz y Justicia, America latina), NGOs for non-violence visiting the Saharawi refugee camps, expressed their support for the "peaceful struggleâ" of the Saharawi people to recover their "legitimate rights to self-determination and peaceâ". [SPS]
The Saharawi Red Crescent launched an urgent appeal to all humanitarian organisations. It advises that the "þback-up supplies in basic foodstuffs, broached during January 2006, will be exhausted in the coming month of March". Pharmaceutical supplies, financed in recent years by the European Bureau for humanitarian aid (ECHO), "are all used up". The budget devoted by ECHO for medication represents only 25% of the primary needs of the refugees , and the European bodyþhas not yet supplied this assistance due last November. [SPS 05.02.06]
An international conference on the cultural heritage of SADR took place in the camps with the participation of scholars from the universities of Girona, Madrid and the Argentinian university of Fasta as well as Saharawi intellectuals. The university group from Girona, comprising Gabriel Alcalde, Joan Lluis Alegret, Carlos Serra, Narcis and Joaquim Soler, presented a brochure entitled "The prehistoric rupestrian paintings of Rekeiz Lemgasem (Zemmour- Western Sahara)" and expounded on the archeological research work done in the liberated zones of SADR, which was also done by Beatriz Carbonell from the Argentinian university of Fasta. Saharawi and Spanish anthropologists and researchers spoke on: "Saharawi culture from the point of view of development anthropology". This group includes Professeur Juan Carlos Gimeno Martin, David De Juan Canales, Luis Marin Pozuelo, in collaboration with Saharawi researchers Moh. Saleh Nafe Abeid, Mrs Fanna Saleh Dat, Mrs Fatimetu Brahim and Mrs Tfarrah Mohamed Bachir.
Ecuador and SADR announced the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, the foreign ministers from the two countries declared in a joint communiqué. Ecuador first recognised SADR in 1983 but had withdrawn its recognition on 11 June 2004.
OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO
Laassairi Said, arrested with others after the funeral of Lembarki in the building housing MINURSO, where he was attempting to take refuge, was mistreated and detained for 48 hours in the police station. Laassairi denounced the events in letters sent to the head of MINURSO, to the public prosecutor of the court and to the local official of AMDH, accompanying his letters with a medical certificate testifying to his injuries. [documents]
Ali Salem Mohamed Yahdih Mohamed Saleh died in El Ayoun at the age of 100. He took part in the first revolutionary movements in the Sahara. Arrested on 26.02.76, he was spent time in several Moroccan secret prisons and was released in 1991, after 16 years of disappearance. Two of his eight sons were killed in combat in the first years of Moroccan occupation, one of his daughters is a former disappeared and political prisoner, Fatimetu Ali Salem.
The Saharawi families from the camps who came to Dakhla and Boujdour as part of the exchange visits organised by MINURSO were warmly welcomed by the population sporting SADR flags. The police blocked the streets leading to the reception. Two Â people who came to welcome the Saharawi families were intentionally knocked down by a Moroccan police car.
increase in sentence
Sidi Ahmed N'dour, a Saharawi political prisoner, was sentenced on appeal by the Moroccan court in El Ayoun to 10 months in prison. At the court of first instance his sentence had been 4 months.
The majority of educational establishments, especially the lycée Mohamed V and Alfateh school, were decorated Â with SADR flags. The response by the Moroccan forces of repression was immediate.
In a statement Saharawi political prisoners in the prisons of El Ayoun, Smara, Ait Melloul, Kenitra, Tiznit and Kalaat Sghrana denounced the mistreatment inflicted by the GUS on Louali Amaydane and Sidi Ahmed Elmoussaoui, in the car which was taking them to the Black Prison following their sentencing in the appeal court on 24 January 2006. The political prisoners declared themselves victims of inhumane treatment, quoting the cases of Haddi Sidi Ahmed Elkaynane, tortured and threatened with death in the prison of Ait Melloul in the presence of the Royal prosecutor, Ali Elagdadi, humiliated and tortured by agents of Moroccan intelligence in Tiznit, and Sid Ahmed Aalouate, badly treated and humiliated during a stay in hospital by members of the GUS in the Black Prison. As a sign of protest, the Saharawi prisoners decided on a 48 hour hunger strike starting on 31.01.06.
The Moroccan secret services on the lookout for independence demonstrators interrogated several Saharawi families in Maatallah quarter.
A Saharawi citizen, Elhaiba Mohamed Mahmoud suspended his hunger strike, the authorities having acceded to his request to return to El Ayoun.
An independence demonstration through the streets of Smara, with SADR flags and slogans, was brutally dispersed by the forces of repression.
Ismaili Mohamed M'Barek, arrested for having demonstrated peacefully in favour of independence, was imprisoned in the Black Prison while waiting for his trial, the date of which has not been fixed. [SPS]
The Committee for the respect of freedom and human rights in Western Sahara (CORELSO), Paris, asked the Moroccan government to give back to the Saharawi human rights activist, Aminatou Haidar "all her civic rights, including the right of expression, of demonstration and of movement".
The Association of families of Saharawi prisoners and disappeared (AFAPREDESA), expressed its concern over the "serious and preoccupying situation" of Saharawi political prisoners in Moroccan prisons where torture and mistreatment are common currency.[comunicado]
The Saharawi community in France requested "urgent intervention" from the French government with Morocco in order to put an end to its "crimes" in Western Sahara.
The former political prisoner, Aminatou Haidar, denounced in a statement, â•þunfair trials of the Saharawi political prisonersâ•ÿ in Western Sahara, and called for the international community to "protect defenceless Saharawi civilians".[SPS]
The international secretariat of the World Organisation against Torture, OMCT, launched an appeal because of the worsening human rights situation in Western Sahara. [appeal]
Several MEPs asked the European Commission if it had any intention of intervening asking for the sentence of Ali Salem Tamek to be reconsidered. His prison sentence was lengthened by the appeal court on 24.01.06.
The mission planned to visit Western Sahara this month has been postponed until a date yet to be fixed. The Moroccan and Algerian governments had not replied to the requests for authorisation. Their ambassadors will be called to explain shortly.
Demonstrations in favour of independence and releasing Saharawi prisoners, during the night the forces of repression intervened and arrested four young Saharawis, Said Baha, Youssef Daoudi, Amidan Lehbib, Jabar Abdelvetah. During interrogation they were accused of drug trafficking and implication in illegal immigration. They were warned that they could be accused of these crimes if they continue to take part in independence demonstrations.
"The central executive of AMDH reiterated its appeal for the release of all detainees of opinion and Saharawi political prisoners" in a statement and denounced "arbitrary arrests of Saharawis".
About 300 Saharawis organised a demonstration outside the town offices, violently repressed by security forces, who used tear gas, including CS gas, known for its toxicity. Several people were injured. The next day another march brought together about a thousand Saharawis, again dispersed violently by the forces of order. The demonstrators chanted slogans in favour of the Polisario Front, for self-determination of Western Sahara and the release of Saharawi prisoners. They denounced the discrimination suffered by Saharawis regarding employment and housing and demanded work for the unemployed. Many were injured.
At least one person was arrested and seven human rights activists wounded during clashes during the night between Moroccan forces of repression and Saharawi citizens who called for the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and independence. Fourteen other persons were savagely mistreated, another, Bela Bouaila, was arrested and Saharawi homes were damaged.
Saharawis organised a sit-in of solidarity with the population of Dakhla.
Three Saharawi students from Lemsala lycÃ©e, Chtouki Moulaye Ahmed, Dah Hassan and El Ghali Lechgar were arrested and interrogated for over six hours before being released. A demonstration also took place in Mohamed VI lycÃ©e. [SPS]
Arrest of Bal-la Cheijatu Ali Salem, interrogated for nearly eight hours and set free after the policemen urinated on him.
Thousands of demonstrators organised another march towards the town offices, interrupted once again by the forces of repression. Clashes lasted over four hours. Again many injured. Four persons arrested, Rgueibi Lakhlipha, Lakraimi, Moustapha, Chekraoui Bachir and Aabani Brahim.
A Saharawi human rights activist, Lamin Said Mohamed Sahel, sought for several months for his participation in demonstrations in El Ayoun, was arrested on 6 February 2006 as the demonstration was happening, and his house was being searched and ransacked, his computer, a telephone, CDs, books were taken away by police.
Electrical voltage for the town was augmented without warning, in order to prevent young Saharawis from hanging SADR flags on electric wires, which caused damage to a large number of computers.
Three girls, Chikha Salama Ould Mnayssir, Hjabbouha Salama Ould Mnayssir (17 years) and Ghlaya Salama Ould Mnayssir (14 years) were attacked by the Moroccan forces of repression, who broke into their house in the centre of El Ayoun, where a demonstration for self-determination and independence had taken place. The mother of the girls, Khadijattou Ali Omar Bachir, has disappeared as well as her son Abdallah Salama Mnayssir (22 years).
Prisoners' letter to Kerr-McGee
Saharawi political prisoners sent a letter to the CEO of American oil company, Kerr-McGee asking him not to renew the contract signed with the Moroccan authorities which expires in April. These activities in Saharawi territorial waters are taking place without the consent of the population are illegal and violate international law, they recalled.[letter]
Brahim Dahane, Saharawi political prisoner, human rights defender and president of the Saharawi Association of victims of human rights abuses committed by Morocco, appeared before the magistrate. He was arrested on 30 October 2005, because of his activities as human rights defender in Western Sahara and his support to the family of the martyr Hamdi Lambarki. The Moroccan authorities falsified the police report which Dahane has not seen or signed and are trying to make him guilty of penal offenses.
Referring to the deterioration in the human rights situation in the occupied territories, the Norwegian human rights Foundation, Rafto send an appeal to the Norwegian government. It asked them to put pressure on Morocco to put an end to inhuman treatment such as torture, humiliations, threats to human rights activists and political prisoners, to order a re-trial for the 14 human rights defenders unjustly sentenced, to authorise representatives from the Norwegian government, NGOs and media to have free access to the territory of occupied Western Sahara. [Press statement Rafto Foundation]
The 11 lawyers, coming from five countries, deliver the report of their mission of observation on 29-30 November 2005 and 11-15 December 2005, concerning the trial of the 14 Saharawi political prisoners before the Criminal Court of El Ayoun. [rapport du collectif] [rapport de Me D. Leuenberger]
The Secretary of State for Spanish Cooperation, Leire Pajin, declared that Spain has a "historic obligation" towards the Saharawi people, affirming that his country should work to find a lasting and just solution to the conflict in Western Sahara.
letter from Morocco to the Security Council
In a letter sent to the UN Secretary General and to the president of the Security Council, the Moroccan minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Benaissa, writes that Morocco is disposed to begin negotiations as soon as possible and that it will present very soon, a proposal for autonomy to this effect. He protests as well about what he calls the creation of a fait accompli in the buffer zone, by artificially putting buildings, by holding diplomatic activities there and even going so far as to conclude contracts of convenience with oil companies.[About the letter by MAP, 02.02.06]
The President of the Saharawi Republic, Mohamed Abdelaziz, reaffirmed in a letter to the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, that the Saharawis reject any proposal for resolving the conflict in Western Sahara, which does not respect the inalienable right of the Saharawi people to self-determination. According to the Saharawi president, Rabat cannot claim to be a sovereign power or administrative power over Western Sahara, which is under military occupation.[Letter]
The Spanish minister for foreign affairs, Miguel Angel Moratinos, received Peter van Walsum in Madrid. He is the personal representative of the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, for Western Sahara.
27, 28 et
29.01.06, Preparatory conference for the Maghreb Social Forum
For three days 400 altermondialists from countries of the Maghreb and associations connected with immigration met in Bouznika to discuss orientations for their common action. A Saharawi delegation took part in the work, led by six Saharawi activists including five from El Ayoun and Smara (Lahcen and Lahoussine Moutik, Lahbib and Abdessalam Eddymaoui, N'guia Bouda, Mohamed Ahmed Tirsal), as well as thirteen students from Casablanca. The delegation received a warm welcome from the participants. Two Saharawis were designated as rapporteurs, namely Bachir Moutik (who had come from France to represent CORELSO) rapporteur of the workshop on peace and resolution of conflicts, and Lahcen Moutik, rapporteur of the workshop on raising awareness and enlargement, whose aim was to find the ways of mobilising civil society in the Maghreb and contacting NGOs who were not able to attend this first meeting.[Maghreb Social Forum website]
The French judge, Philippe Courroye, enquiring into misappropriation in the UN "Oil for Food" program for Iraq sent, in December, international letters rogatory to Morocco bearing on the conditions under which Jean-Bernard Mérimée, the French Ambassador to Morocco 1987 to 1991, could have been given land at Ouarzazate by Hassan II and above all, the remunerations he received from the BMCE. [LEJOURNAL HEBDO]. [see also "Kofigate" by K. Beyrouk]
A Mauritanian-Algerian technical committee of public works examined the possibility of constructing a road 1000km long which would link the locality of Choum, in the Mauritanian region of Adrar, to Tindouf. The meeting allowed a framework agreement to be prepared of cooperation between the institutions of the two countries.
Written question to the European Union Council by MEPs Caroline Lucas et de Raül Romeva on the question of the delimitation of fishing zones in the new fishing agreement between the EU and Morocco.
During a plenary session of the Danish Parliament, on the exploitation of fishing resources according to the European Unionâ•ús fishing agreement with Morocco, Hans Christian Schmidt, Danish Minister for Agriculture and Fishing, made clear that his government, along with other European countries, have asked for assurances from the European Commission on the subject of the legality of this agreement in terms of international law respecting the status of Western Sahara as a non-self-governing territory.
Recalling "their position of support for the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination as well as their support for the efforts of the United Nations towards a just and lasting solutionâ", the Danish parliamentarians, from all political tendencies, affirmed that the said agreement "should conform with international law and respect the yet to be defined status of Western Sahara". [SPS]
The SADR government expressed satisfaction at the announcement made by the oil company Baraka, to put an end to its exploration activities in the region of Cap Juby (off-shore from Tarfaya, which touches the territory of SADR). [Declaration of the SADR government, 06.02.06]
Ecological organisations denounce the presence of a high level of radioactivity in food additives for stock extracted from the phosphate coming from Western Sahara, of which the content of radioactive elements (uranium 238, polonium 210 et plomb 210) is well known.
On Wednesday 8 February, Kamal Fadel, Polisario Front representative based in Sydney, was the guest speaker at the Australian Fabian Society in Melbourne. He outlined the history of Western Sahara, from the days of the Council of the Forty (Ait Arbain) to Spanish colonization ending with the Green March and military invasion by Morocco. Helen Hill of the Victoria University responded, commenting on the similarities between the case of Western Sahara and that of East Timor. She was hopeful that history would develop in such a way as to provide Western Sahara also with its chance for independence.
In the Basque Country, 300 tonnes of emergency aid have been collected and will be sent to the camps, while in Andalusia, the population has donated 1,000 tonnes which will also be taken to the camps.
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