WEEKS 49 - 50 : 03.12.- 16.12.2006
04-07.12.06, African Union, Summit on Food Security in Africa
The President of the Saharawi Republic spoke during a debate on the subject of food security and the fight against desertification in Africa. Mohamed Abdelaziz
drew attention to the situation of the Saharawi refugees, who today find themselves facing an acute food crisis, through lack of food aid from donor countries”. The Nigerian President Olesegun Obasanjo called on Africa to “pay special attention to the Saharawi refugees”, and to include this topic “on the agenda of the next summit”.
10.12.06, Saharawi Consultative Committee
M'Barek Lehdeib, vice-president of the Consultative Committee, was designated by presidential decree the head of this assembly of notables, replacing Annat Ali Menna, who died recently. Mohamed Ali Ould Sidi El Bachir takes up the position of Vice-President.
TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO
30.11.06, Ali Salem Tamek’s visit to South Africa, continued.
The South African Committee for Human Rights organised a seminar on “The human rights situation in the occupied territories of Western Sahara” in the presence of representatives of the diplomatic corps, political party officials, NGOs, researchers and journalists. Mtselsio Thipanyane, Executive Director of the Committee, Eddy Makue, Secretary General of the South African Council of Churches, Oubbi Bouchraya Bachir, Saharawi Ambassador to South Africa, Timothey Othieno of the Global Dialogue Institute and Ali Salem Tamek, member of the Collective of Saharawi Human Rights Defenders took part, as well as Ebrahim Saley, Director of the North African department at the South African Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who declared that “South Africa will spare no effort to enlarge MINURSO’s mandate for the protection of the rights of Saharawi citizens”.
30.11.-05.12.06, Aminatou Haidar’s visit to Austria
The Saharawi human rights activist met the director of the International Institute for Peace, Erwin Lanc, former minister of the Interior and Foreign Affairs, who reaffirmed his support for the struggle of the Saharawi people for self-determination and independence. In Vienna, Aminatou Haidar participated in a round table on attacks on human rights in Western Sahara in the company of Barbara Prammer, President of the Parliament, of Karin Scheele, MEP and Norman Spitzegger, director of the North-South Institute for Cooperation and Development.[more] A. Haidar also took part in press conferences, organised by the Austrian Socialist party and the Greens. [résumé deutsch]
Arrest of six people in Smara (released thanks to the intervention of a number of demonstrators), questioning of a person in El Ayoun, in Dakhla and Agadir.
Arrest of a Saharawi former political prisoner, Bouamoud Mohamed Salem, tortured in public because he was wearing a T-shirt celebrating the Saharawi Intifada. Several police vehicles prevented Saharawi citizens from expressing solidarity with him.
04.12.06, landmine accident
A Saharawi family driving in a car was the victim of an anti-tank mine explosion in the region of Bir Nzarane, in the south of occupied Western Sahara. Salek Mohamed Lamine Oussiboua, born 1986, and a man accompanying the family were killed. The father and the mother as well as a daughter and another son were injured. [ASVDH]
According to a statement from the Rafto Foundation, the Moroccan authorities have returned Mohamed Daddach’s passport following a campaign begun by the Foundation and about thirty Norwegian NGOs. Daddach was thus able to visit his mother at the end of November. She is 91 years old and lives in a refugee camp near Tindouf. [press release]
In Smara the arrest of the president of the Saharawi Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, Ivekou Selma Dedi. [SPS]
Arrest in El-Ayoun of Saharawi students, Louloud Mohamed and Mohamed Lamine Ahmed Boujemaa Hamid from the lycée Lissan Eddine El-Khattib, on the grounds of “having distributed leaflets demanding the immediate withdrawal of the Moroccan occupation and the inalienable right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and independence”. [SPS]
10.12.06, International Day for Human Rights
On this occasion, demonstrations took place in El-Ayoun, Smara and Boujdour, among others, as well as in southern Morocco, in Assa, Goulimine, Zak and Asrir.
The Saharawi Association for the victims of grave violations of human rights committed by the Moroccan state (ASVDH) warned the authorities, in accordance with the law, that a demonstration would be held at place Dcheira, opposite Hotel Nakjir in El-Ayoun, where members of MINURSO live. Members of the Committee of Support for Self-determination, of CODESA (Collective of human rights defenders) and the Committee for the Peace Plan and the Preservation of Natural Resources joined this demonstration. While vehicles of demonstrators were intercepted by police, a large police deployment at the gathering place were preventing, with brutality, the demonstrators from meeting. Leaders of ASVDH, such as Brahim Dahane, its president, El-Ghalia Djimmi, its vice-president, leaders of the Committee of Support for Self-determination such as Hammad Hmad, vice-president, and a dozen other human rights defenders were injured. Three people were questioned.
In Smara, unemployed graduates organised a march in favour of dignified conditions of life and the withdrawal of the Moroccan occupier. The march was violently broken up, causing 23 people to be injured. Two people were arrested. [resumen + fotos] [autres info, témoignages --> ASVDH]
A demonstration of inhabitants of Asrir on the occasion of the international day for human rights was dedicated to the young people from Asrir who died during the shipwreck of two boats at sea off Boujdour, including Mohamed Salem Boukhatem, a human rights defender and member of ASVDH. [Photos]
CODESA, the Collective of Saharawi Human Rights Defenders, Saharawi students in Agadir and Rabat expressed their solidarity with the victims. In Marrakech on 12 December, 39 Saharawi students were wounded in the course of confrontations between Saharawi students who were organising a sit-in of solidarity with the victims of repression on 10 December and Moroccan students. [SPS]
The President of the Saharawi Republic called once again on the UN SG to “intervene urgently to protect Saharawis in the occupied territories of Western Sahara”. [SPS]
Shipwreck – Illegal Immigration (continued)
03.12.06, Statement from CODESA,
The Collective of Saharawi Defenders of Human Rights considers that the Moroccan government is responsible for the increase in the number of illegal emigrants, calls for an international commission of inquiry to be set up, asks for those responsible to be brought to justice and calls on human rights organisations to put pressure on Morocco to put an end to this.
03.12.06, letter to the UN
In a letter sent to Kofi Annan, Mohamed Abdelaziz asks for an urgent international inquiry into the role of the Moroccan colonial authorities in the death of young Saharawis who perished when two boats capsized. (see weeks 47/48) [full text SPS]
On 23 November the Green MEP, Raoul Romeva, put down a written question to the Council and to the European Commission asking what measures were envisaged towards making Morocco put an end to the repression of the Saharawi population, which is forcing hundreds of young people to abandon their land. [question]
After his investigations in the Canaries on the Saharawi asylum seekers arriving by sea (see week 47/48), the Spanish journalist,Tomas Barbulo made inquiries with families of the 31 young Saharawis drowned or disappeared during the shipwreck, on 26 October last, of two boats near Boujdour. Among 14 victims whose bodies have been recovered, the majority originate from southern Morocco, Goulimine, Assa, Asrir. They are people displaced in 1991 from southern Morocco to Western Sahara by the Moroccans for the referendum (second green march). These young people have defected to the independence movement. Boukhatem for example, was a member of the Committee for the Peace Plan and the Protection of the Natural Resources of Western Sahara. [El Pais, 11.12.06]
As for the
Moroccan authorities, they require Spain to treat Saharawi immigrants
as Moroccan economic migrants and to return them to Morocco. According
to the Moroccan Consul in the Canary Islands, the Saharawis have no
problems with the Moroccan authorities in Western Sahara. [ EP/IP, 08.12.06]
13.12.06, visit of Ali Salem Tamek to Ireland
The Saharawi activist, Ali Salem Tamek is carrying out a visit to the Republic of Ireland at the invitation of the international foundation for the protection of human rights, Front Line, who have done important work in raising awareness over the past few years. During the hunger strikes observed in 2005, Ali Salem Tamek received each week from Ireland some 150 letters of support. [SPS]
Ali Salem Tamek had talks with the deputy director of this NGO, Andrew Anderson, who led a mission of inquiry in Morocco and Western Sahara in May of this year.
[Front Line Western Sahara Mission report, 21.06.06]
14.12.06, visit of Ali Salem Tamek to Ireland, continued
Tamek was received in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the officer responsible for the Middle East and North Africa, Stephen Dawson, as well as by the Director of the human rights department, Gavan G. O'Leary. Tamek talked about the situation in the occupied territories and spoke of the forced emigration, unfair sentences and political prisoners. He also met Irish members of the European Parliament, who opposed the adoption by the latter of the fishing agreement between Morocco and the EU. Meetings with Irish humanitarian and human rights organisations are also planned.
The American company based in Dallas, Kosmos Energy Offshore Morocco HC concluded an agreement with Morocco “for exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons in the zone of interest called "Boujdour offshore"», within Saharawi territorial waters. [source mensual note Bank Al-Maghrib (p. 74)]
05.12.06, Another illegal oil exploration contract granted by Morocco
An Irish company, "Island Oil and Gas PLC.", with "San Leon (Morocco) Ltd" and another partner company "GB Oil and Gas Ventures Limited" (registered in Jersey) signed a contract for oil reconnaissance with Morocco for a year in the Zag basin, mostly situated in Western Sahara.
Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) sent an open letter to the Irish company to inform it of the illegal and geopolitical context and the dangers in this conflict zone. [Open letter to Island Oil & Gas plc by Western Sahara Resource Watch, 13.12.06]
After the withdrawal of Total in December 2004 and of Kerr McGee in May 2006, Morocco has granted new oil contracts in violation of international law. [see the dossier on Natural Resources in Western Sahara]
The General Assembly adopted by 70 votes and 91 abstentions, resolution A/61/415. The text was proposed by the 4th Committee, who accepted it in October by 76 votes with 72 abstentions.
Numerous delegations regretted that this text, practically identical to last year’s resolution, had not been able to be adopted consensually as had been the case previously. This vote should in no way be regarded as an expression of a position in favour of one or the other of the two interested parties, the majority of delegations warned, while pleading for the speeding up of the settlement of this dispute. Several delegations alluded to the autonomy plan announced by Morocco.
[UN press release] [communiqué ONU] (both versions are a little different and complementary)
“The Polisario Front and the Saharawi Government welcome the adoption of such a resolution and consider that this constitutes a new success for international law”, affirmed the Saharawi minister for Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, in a statement made public in New York. [SPS]
The spokesman of the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared that “the General Assembly strongly reaffirmed the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination and recalled that it is a question of decolonization, thus confirming the responsibility of the UN in effecting its solution”. [SPS]
CORCAS met for two days in Rabat to examine the autonomy proposal for Western Sahara, which has been submitted to the king. [agencies]
Comments/articles in french: "Le Maroc leurre avec son plan d’autonomie". Driss Basri, Liberté Alger, 07.12.06, "Une mascarade nommée Corcas", Omar Brousky, Le Journal Hebdo, No 281, 09.12.06, and the Proposal presented by Morocco to James Baker in 2003 (refused), with analysis and comment (french-spanish).
11.12.06, VIIIth Franco-Moroccan heads of government meetings
Following talks of the Moroccan Prime Minister, Driss Jettou with Jacques Chirac, the latter declared, on the subject of Western Sahara: that this conflict requires a lasting political solution and one which encourages “the Moroccan authorities to present proposals which will permit the start of negotiations with a view to a just and lasting political solution, acceptable by all the parties”. The French Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, for his part, welcomed the “reaffirmed willingness of Morocco to negotiate a political solution and settle the Sahara question”. [AFP/Elysée] ALGERIA - SPAIN
12.12.06, 3rd Spanish-Algerian bilateral meeting
On the occasion of the working visit of the Head of the Spanish government, Rodriguez Zapatero, Algerian President Bouteflika proposed a toast during a lunch, declaring: “We hope that Spain will engage itself in a more resolute manner to bring the Kingdom of Morocco and the Polisario Front to accept the finalisation of the means of holding a free and fair referendum of self-determination [...] Spain cannot remain indifferent to the present fate of the Saharawi people which you colonized from 1895 until 1975”.
In a final declaration, the two parties reaffirmed their “attachment to a just and definitive solution to the conflict in Western Sahara within the framework of international law and the relevant resolutions of the United Nations [...]".
[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
>> English publications on Sahara Update mailinglist: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sahara-update/messages
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Attualità in italiano: El Ouali Bologna: http://www.saharawi.org/saharawi.htm + Radio for Peace http://www.radiokcentrale.it/du.htm
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