WEEKS 15-16 : 09.04.-22.04.2006
07-09.04.06, Big success for the third International Cinema Festival of the Sahara (FISAHRA), [see SPS] [ Algerian press] and Spanish: [El Mundo]- [EFE]
10. - 19.04.06: Messages from the Saharawi President were given to the Angolan [see SPS] and Namibian [see SPS] presidents, who took the opportunity to express their support for the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people.
Oubi Bouchraya Bachir presented his credentials to President Thabo Mbeki as Ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Saharawi Republic, accredited in South Africa.
OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO
Sporadic demonstrations are still taking place in El Ayoun, where young Saharawis display SADR flags, such as Loumadi Said on 7 April, Khalihenna Ndour on 8, the latter was arrested and tortured. Independence leaflets are regularly distributed. Two demonstrators were registered in the Black Prison: Hossein Mohamed El-Isaoui and Hossein Al-Yalawi.
In Smara distribution of leaflets during the night of the 8th, the next day Hamada Ould Dadi and Ahmed El Moussawi (Dadi Mahmoud Hmada and Ahmed Sidi Moussaoui) are arrested and imprisoned in El Ayoun's Black Prison.
In Boujdour students demonstrate on 12 and 17 (High Schools of Naasr and Ahmed Mohamed Rachid, Omar Ben Khatab School).
In Dakhla police forces keep watch day and night on the houses of Saharawi activists, in particular, that of Oulad Cheikh El Mahjoub.
In Assa dozens of young Saharawis take advantage of a musical soirée organised by the authorities to hand out leaflets calling for the withdrawal of Moroccan occupiers from the Sahara and the release of Saharawi political prisoners. The evening was a pretext to present the autonomy proposal. Following the intervention of police forces, several persons were arrested.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Greens/ALE), Ana Gomes (PSE) and Iratxe García Pérez (PSE) put a written question to the Council of the European Commission about the situation of Sidi Sayeli, still imprisoned in the Black Prison of El Ayoun (questions 1040/06 et 1041/06).
Moustapha Tamek, a human rights activist, was questioned on arrival from Agadir in Goulimin. He was interrogated about his political and human rights activities. Tamek is a student at the University of Rabat, a member of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH), Assa branch. He had already been prevented from going to Dakhla and Boujdour at the end of December 2005 [weeks 51-52/2005]
A Spanish parliamentary delegation, made up of members of the group, Peace for the Saharawi People from the region of Murcia, travelled by plane to El Ayoun in the aim of finding out about the situation on the ground. The delegation was not authorised to disembark and its plane was re-directed to Agadir.
Saharawi prisoners of opinion expressed, in the face of the persistence of attacks on human rights in the occupied territories, their solidarity with the victims, and asked for urgent intervention by by the international community, the opening of an inquiry into the actions which took place in El Ayoun during the transfer of accused prisoners to court and decided on a 48-hour hunger strike from 13 April.
The Saharawi member of the African Parliament, Brahi Salem Zroug, denounced the "serious violations" of human rights suffered by Saharawis in the occupied territories of Western Sahara at the hands of the Moroccan colonial forces before the Committee of Justice and Human Rights of the African Parliament, which met recently in Mid Rand, South Africa.[SPS]
The Association of Saharawi families of prisoners and disappeared (AFAPREDESA) and the Saharawi Union of Lawyers (UJS) called on international human rights organisations for the "protection of Saharawi civilians against the flagrant violations of human rights, committed by the Moroccan state which have been going on since its military invasion of Saharawi territory in 1975 until this day". [SPS]
The National Algerian Committee of Solidarity with the Saharawi People (CNASPS) called on the Security Council to implement "international law" in Western Sahara and to prevent a "further denial of justice" from happening in this territory. [APS].
In an interview for the Arabic language Moroccan weekly, Assahifa, the Saharawi former political prisoner Mohamed El Moutaouakil declared that the Polisario Front is the "only legitimate representative of the Saharawi people" recognised by the international community. He added that the optimal solution for the conflict in Western Sahara, accepted until now by the UN, must include the Baker Plan II, which allows for a period of transition ending in a referendum.
King Mohammed pardoned 48 Sahrawi prisoners jailed in the prison of El Ayoun, Agadir (Ait Melloul and Inzegane), Tiznit and Nador. According to official sources all Saharawi political prisoners should now be free.
EU-Moroccan Fishing Agreement
The ambassadors of the 25 member states of the European Union decided on the distribution of fishing licences, 80% will go to Spain. The Swedish ambassador Petersson insisted that the agreement should be accompanied by a declaration of the 25 underlining that the revenues from fishing in the waters of Western Sahara should benefit the Saharawi people. Spain, France and Portugal consider such a proposal "inopportune".
The SADR was able to showcase the oil and gas exploration potential of its onshore and offshore territories at the prestigious annual convention of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) held in Houston this year on 9-12 April 2006. The record of 8,400 delegates attending the AAPG convention, many of whom represent the international upstream (exploration and production) oil industry, were able to obtain a good appreciation of the geology, geophysics and fiscal attractiveness of the SADR. After failing to prevent the participation of the SADR, the Moroccan regime organised a demonstration of 10 Moroccans outside the Convention for one hour.
Friendship groups of the French Senate with Algeria and with Morocco received a Saharawi delegation, comprising the Minister for Occupied Territories, Khalil Sidi M'hamed and the Polisario Front representative in France, Sadafa Bahia. The meeting, which took place in a room at the Senate, was devoted to "informal exchanges from the point of view of the situation in Western Sahara and the position of the Polisario Front in the light of the latest developments in the region", according to a statement from the Polisario Front in France.
The Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sergeï Lavrov, raised the question of Western Sahara during a telephone conversation with the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for Western Sahara, Peter Van Walsum. Lavrov reaffirmed the principled position of Russia, favouring a political settlement to the conflict on the basis of Security Council resolutions.
In an interview with the Algerian daily, L'Expression, the Saharawi President declared that the French government is "frankly pro-Moroccan". He added that "without this support, the conflict would have been over long ago and the problem settled! This policy in fact prevents the building of the Magreb. Observers go so far as to affirm that France in fact considers this Maghreb zone as 'its protectorate'."
Secretary General's Report [English version HTML
The report covers the period from 14.10.05 to11.04.06. He surveys recent events, mentioning the independence demonstrations in the occupied territories, which have resulted, for the first time since 1999, a Moroccan military deployment. Concerning the Saharawi refugees, Kofi Annan asks for particular effort to help in the reconstruction following the recent floods and to enlarge the program of family visits between the camps and the occupied territories. The 48 "illegal immigrants" from Bangladesh, looked after since 2004 as well as numerous sub-Saharans, sheltered in October 2005, have finally been able to be repatriated. There remain 35 sub-Sahararan "illegal immigrants" in Bir Lahlou, in the charge of the Polisario Front.
The personal representative of Kofi Annan, Peter van Walsum, presents a precise diagnosis after various consultations: the positions of the two parties are irreconcilable.
In his observations, Kofi Annan notes that no country with close relations with Morocco has put any pressure on it to review its position of refusal to any plan which admits independence as an option. Besides, the United Nations cannot propose a solution which does not take account of self-determination.
In conclusion, the Secretary General recommends direct negotiations without preliminaries, in order to find a compromise between international law and the political reality, within the framework of the United Nations.
He makes clear further, that the problem of Western Sahara is a case of incomplete decolonization, which does not assume major importance for the great powers, who want to maintain good relations with both Algeria and Morocco. Allowing the present blockage in the process to continue can be seen as dangerous in the occupied territories, with its human rights abuses, violence and arrests, warns Annan. He announces that Morocco finally accepts a mission from the UN High Commission for Human Rights to go to the area around 15 May.
General asks the Council to extend the mandate of MINURSO for 6
months until 31.10.06.
The Security Council will meet in closed session on Tuesday 25 April with the countries contributing troops to the UN Mission in Western Sahara. Consultations will then take place on this question. On Friday 28 April, the Council will hold a public session on the UN Mission in Western Sahara, whose mandate must be renewed on 30 April.
In a written statement the Polisario Front representative at the UN considers that "while Morocco resists accepting the self-determination of the Saharawi people these negotiations have no sense".
During a press conference in Madrid, the Saharawi Preisent, Mohamed Abdelaziz, declared that "the UN Secretary General should have been clear...in his recommendations. Faced with Morocco's obstruction to the efforts of the United Nations for 30 years, he should call on the Security Council to impose sanctions against Morocco until it accepts the implementation of resolutions 1495 and 690 approved by the Council". To a question on the "direct negotiations", Abdelaziz replied that the "problem is not a problem of negotiations, but, rather of Morocco's commitment to respect what is agreed in these negotiations". [for details see SPS]
Conference of solidarity with the Saharawi people with the participation of the Saharawi President Mohamed Abdelaziz and an intervention by telephone of a Saharawi human rights activist in the occupied territories. [details see SPS 22.04.06 and more]
Demonstrations "for the decolonization and the independence of the Saharawi people" took place in Madrid, Bilbao, Santander, Seville and Palma de Majorca (on 27 April).
Permanent representatives of 26 member countries of the NATO Council as well as political directors from foreign affairs ministries of seven countries participating in the "Mediterranean Dialogue" (Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania) met in closed session. [Liberté, Algiers, 06.04.06]. [ RFI, 09.04.06].
The Moroccan Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Benaissa, travels to Latin America, visiting in turn, Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Colombia and Chile.
A delegation from the National Union of Saharawi Women, invited by the Scottish Trades Union Congress, took part in a seminar in Perth devoted to the situation in Palestine, Iraq and Western Sahara. They finished their visit to the United Kingdom by taking part in a conference of War on Want in London on the question of Western Sahara.
International's Human Rights Concerns for Morocco and W. Sahara:
Take Action : Protect Human Rights Defenders in the Moroccan-Administered Western Sahara. Read it and sign.
[External links to newspapers may not be valid after some days because the servers are restarted]
>> Revue de la presse internationale francophone http://es.groups.yahoo.com/group/sahara-info/messages
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>> Revista de la prensa en español http://es.groups.yahoo.com/group/revista-de-prensa-sahara-occidental/messages
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