WEEKS 43 - 44 : 22.10. - 04.11.2006
In a letter to the European Commission and Council of Ministers, Mohamed Sidati, Minister Counsellor to the Saharawi Presidency, noted that certain clauses in the association agreement between Morocco and the EU conflict with the attitude shown by Morocco in the occupied territories of Western Sahara. [SPS]
The Kenyan government announced a «temporary freeze » in its diplomatic relations with the SADR, on the basis that the SADR should accept the services of a mediator to help resolve the conflict. Kenya recognised the SADR on 25.06.05. [agencies]
Portuguese socialist MEP Ana Gomes declared herself “disgusted and sickened” by her countries’ abstention in the vote of the UN 4th commission on decolonisation. [La Nouvelle République] [em português]
The new Saharawi ambassador to the island of Mauritius, Mohamed Habiballah, was received by the Mauritian president Sir Anerood Jugnauth, to whom he presented his credentials.
A team of basque archaeologists, led by Professor Andoni Sáenz de Buruaga, undertook their third research visit in the liberated zones of Zemmour and Tiris. The team, joined by Saharawi specialists, recently communicated the results of their work. Around 100 sites were discovered, notably tombs dating from the 6th to the 4th millenium BC, as well as many other finds. [Diario Vasco, 24.10.06]
TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO
Mohamed Tahlil , president of the Boujdour branch of the Saharawi Association of Victims of Serious Violations of Human Rights (ASVDH), arrested on the 19th in Boujdour, was tortured before being transferred to the police commissariat in El Ayoun. The former Saharawi political prisoner was not released until the 22nd. The Association of Christians for the Abolition of Torture declared itself very concerned by the ill treatment suffered by Tahlil. It demanded that the Moroccan authorities hold an impartial inquiry into the treatment of which Tahlil was a victim. [30.10.06, ACAT-France]
23.10.06, Amnesty International
Global appeal for Brahim Sabbar and Ahmed Sbai, who are awaiting a second trial for forming an unauthorised association, and incitement to violence against the Moroccan authorities. [Worldwide Appeal, Morocco/Western Sahara: Prison sentence for human rights defender] [Amnesty international UDSA, Online Action Center, Release Western Saharan Human Rights Defender Brahim Sabbar]
23.10.06, Testimony of a Spanish delegation
Two political leaders, one journalist and a leader of the Galician Association for Solidarity with the Saharawi people spent 24 hours in El Ayoun as tourists. They took in the situation prevailing in the town and were able to meet with Saharawi activists. They underwent numerous police checks and searches, particularly on leaving.
[María Villar, la periodista que viajó a los Territorios Ocupados del Sahara Occidental junto con tres compañeros más el dia 23 de octubre, nos cuenta la experiencia de esta comisión gallega que se reunió con 15 activistas saharauis] [24 horas no Aaiún, La opinión de Coruña, 29-X-2006]
Two Norwegian journalists, Anne Torhild Nilson and Radmund Steinsvag, on arrival in El Ayoun, were prevented from entering the territory and forced to return by plane to the Canaries. [Press Release Reporters without Borders, 25.10.06]
The two journalists had already been arrested in a previous visit in April 2005. [-> read again]
The publication of the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the first anniversary of the death of Hamdi Lembarki provoked a fresh upsurge of demonstrations in the territory, leading the Moroccan authorities to react. The Interior Minister Chakib Benmoussa, ministerial delegate Fouad Ali Al Himma and the Director General of National Security Cherki Draiss went to El-Ayoun on the 17th October to meet the leaders of the army and the various police forces. The boss of the DGED, Yassine Mansouri, was also there.
The repression seems to be principally directed against young people, of which a great number have been arrested, stripped and beaten, violated with various instruments, forced to swallow diverse substances, subjected to injections with unknown products and to diverse forms of torture, threatened with being buried alive or burnt, forced to watch videos of people being tortured to death, etc. In all cases, they are advised to quit the territory for Spain or the refugee camps.
Promoting illegal immigration to Spain allows Morocco to rid itself of the rebellious Saharawi youth. It is also a means of pressurising Spain and the European Union. Finally, it is an important source of revenue for the various police bodies who, in turning a blind eye to the boats leaving the coast of Western Sahara, share the resulting profits with the mafia bosses. Saharawi human rights defenders estimate that since summer 2005, c500 young Saharawis have left the territory. Recently a boat with 32 Saharawis on board, flying Saharawi flags, was rescued near Lanzarote, and 24 young people lost their lives after embarking on the 8th October.
[Communiqué from CODESA 24.10.06]
The ASVDH asked in a statement that the mandate of MINURSO be broadened to included the respect of human rights in the territory. [communiqué ASVDH on SPS 25.10.06]
The sports club of the family of the Saharawi athlete Salah Hmatou in El Ayoun was exclded from the Moroccan national trials. Salah Hmatou had expressed himself in favour of self-determination and independence for the Saharawi people in an interview with “Cahiers du Sahara”. Hmatou lives in France and came second in the 10000 metres in the French national championships on 22nd October 2006. [SPS] [--> arabe]
During a ceremony on the anniversary of the death of Lembarki, 80 people were apprehended by the police in the cemetery. Students from the Hassan 1st secondary school demonstrated in black clothers: seven young women and twenty-odd young men were taken away. Pamphlets were distributed in the Dcheira quarter, where Lembarki died, as well as in various schools. Similar demonstrations are reported in Smara and Tan Tan, even though the forces of order had massively increased their presence in order to prevent any gatherings.
The families of 15 young Saharawis disappeared since 26th December 2005 launched a new appeal to the authorities. They believe that the young people were taken by police forces because of their participation in pro-independence demonstrations, while the authorities say that they have drowned. [more]
01.11.06, Violations of human rights
In a statement, the president of the human rights commission of CORCAS, the Royal Consultative Council for Saharan Affairs (a body created by the Moroccan regime), denounced the “catastrophic situation” of human rights in the territory and confirmed the report of the UN OHCHR. He demanded that the president of CORCAS organise an extraordinary general assembly urgently to examine the situation. [Europa Press, 01.11.06]
UPES, the Union of Saharawi Journalists and Writers, denounced the campaign of intimidation, defamation and threats of physical violence against the Saharawi journalist Abd-Eddaiem Mustafa, of the Moroccan daily Al-Ahdath Al-Maghribiya. He is known for his support for the respect of the Saharawi people’s rights. He launched a 48 hour hunger strike on the 24th October in Zak (southern Morocco), in protest against the attitude of the Moroccan authorities.
02.11.06, Freedom of movement
More than thirty Norwegian NGOs have signed an open letter to the Moroccan government demanding that it restore the passport of Mohamed Daddach. On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Rafto Prize for Human Rights, the 3rd and 4th November, the Rafto Foundation invited all its laureates to Bergen. The laureate of 2002, Sidi Mohamed Daddach, had seen his passport confiscated by the Moroccan authorities in March 2003 and was not able to obtain it (and therefore to attend the ceremony), despite numberous appeals and the intervention of the Norwegian government. [Open letter] [M. Daddach in Wikipedia]
Name of the vessel: Sea Maple, Arrives port of Lyttleton on 15th of November 2006, Continuing towards Napier on 16th. Agent: CMR Shipping Ltd. Carrying: "Fertilizers". Vessel has probably IMO number 9176670. Flag: Panama. It passed through Strait of Gibraltar Oct 8th on its way to Laayoune.
24.10.06, Debate in the British Parliament
During a debate on Western Sahara in Westminster Hall, the Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, Kim Howells MP, declared that the UN supported the efforts of the United Nations to achieve “a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution that will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara”. [parliament publication]
27-28.10.06, The Hague, conference “International Law and the Question of Western Sahara”, Institute of Social Studies
For two days, over 30 specialists from several countries (historians, journalists, specialists in economics, international law and political studies as well as politicians) discussed the application of international law to diverse aspects of the Western Sahara question. The conference was organised jointly with the “Platform of Jurists for East Timor” and the Insitute of Social Studies in the Hague.
During a press conference at the end of his visit to Spain, the Algerian Foreign Minister, M. Bedjaoui, clearly expressed his support for a referendum of self-determination in Western Sahara. Today, in contemporary international law, it is the people who determine the fate of the territory” he underlined. He recalled that Spain, since August 1974, had proposed the referendum of self-determination in Western Sahara. On the subject of the Moroccan plan for autonomy, he said that “for now, this plan is a mirage”.
31.10.06, Security Council resolution S/1720 (2006)
The Council unanimously adopted a resolution that reaffirmed its willingness to help the parties to achieve a political solution that was just, lasting and mutually acceptable that will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. It again asked the parties and states in the region to cooperate with the UN to put an end to the current impasse and prolonged the mandate of MINURSO for six months. An extension of the mandate to include the protection of human rights in the occupied territories, as proposed by the Secretary General, was not included, because of the opposition of France. [UN press release]
Following the vote, the US representative William Brencick explained that he had supported this text in the belief that the parties would use the next six months to actively negotiate an acceptable solution. He exhorted Morocco to present an autonomy proposal that was comprehensive and credible, and suggested the holding of direct talks, without a prior agenda, with the representatives of the Saharawi people, i.e. the Polisario Front. He underlined that MINURSO is not an alternative to a permanent solution. He invited the Secretary General to determine the mechanisms and calendar for the dismantling of MINURSO, if it proved unable to fulfil its mandate or if the parties proved themselves incapable of progressing towards a political solution. The US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, has already said in an interview that he was in favour of reducing the number of peacekeeping missions.
The UK representative Karen Pierce expressed the hope that the next six months would see progress in the direction of the free self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. She also said that Britain wants human rights in the region to be monitored as a result of reported violations.[more]
The Polisario Front representative to the UN, Ahmed Boukhari, said that the PF saluted the fact that the Council had renewed its engagement in favour of the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination. But he regretted that, following the opposition of France, the problem of human rights in the territory had not been taken up.
03.11.06, Confidence-building measures
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees announced that the family visits between Smara refugee camp and the occupied territories (currently Dakhla and El Ayoun) will recommence. [English press release]
The Spanish Agency for International Cooperation (AECI) increased by 500,000 euros its contribution to the WFP. The total sum for 2006 is thus over 1.5m euros, a net increase relative to 2005. Bilateral aid has also increased, reaching 1m euros. AECI signed a three year contract with the NGO Peace in the Third World (Paz y Tercer Mundo) for a sum of 2.4m euros to put into action a food security strategy.. [afrol News]
The WFP director for Algeria, Marius de Gaay Fortman, launched an appeal to donors for the Saharawi refugees. He reported that following the appeal of last March, the WFP had received only $28.5m while it was waiting for a further $43m. The European Commission had given $10.4m, Spain $5m, Switzerland $2.2m, followed by USA and Canada. [agencies]
Recognising his humanitarian work for refugees, notably the Saharawi population, Ali Bouguedour, a senior official of the Algerian Red Crescent, was given the high distinction of the Cavalier of the Order of the Star of Solidarity by the Italian President.
[La Tribune, 30.10.06]
Aminatou Haidar was made an honorary citizen of the city of Naples as a sign of gratitude for her struggle for the respect of human rights in Western Sahara.
A solidarity caravan left the port of La Spezia, taking food and material aid to the Saharawi refugee camps.
During a press conference prior to EUCOCO, the Saharawi President, Mohamed Abdelaziz, insisted that “Spain assume its responsibility for the decolonisation of Western Sahara”. The 32nd European Conference for Coordination of Support for the Saharawi People (EUCOCO) opened in Vitoria (capital of the Basque country), with c600 participants, including many delegations and people of international renown. The Saharawi president, the president of the Basque autonomous government, Juan José Ibarretxe, and the authorities of Vitoria participated in the opening ceremony. [SPS ] [Sahara-Info]
Mise au point de la Revista Futuro Saharaui, 23.10.06.
Aclaración desde la Revista Futuro Saharaui, 23.10.06.
ANALYSIS: Morocco - Maghreb
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