WEEKS 09 - 10 : 25.02. - 10.03.2007
27-28.02.07, Tifariti, commemoration of the 31st anniversary of SAD
Greetings from Raúl Castro, first vice-president of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algerian president, and Colonel Vall, head of the Mauritanian state, among others, were sent to the Saharawi president.
800 guests from 22 countries of all continents attended the festivities, including Mohamed Cherif Abbass, Algerian minister of the Moudjahidines, Abdelkader Messahel, Algerian deputy minister of Foreign Affairs in charge of Africa and the Maghreb, Abdalla Baali, Algerian Ambassador, Lempy Lucas, Namibian vice-minister of Foreign Affairs and thousands of Saharawis from the camps.
The celebrations began with an international conference of solidarity with the Saharawi people. The delegates spent a whole day divided into three workshops on political support, solidarity and human rights. Introducing the conference, the Saharawi Prime Miniser, Abdelkader Taleb Oumar strongly condemned “all the half-baked solutions put forward at the present time by the Moroccan government”. The conference adopted a final document entitled “Declaration of Tifariti” [Declaration of Tifariti, 27.02.07] [Arabic] [Pictures from the International Conference 26.02.07]
commemorative ceremony of the 27 February, President Abdelaziz declared
in his speech that the Polisario Front cannot accept the concept of
“internal autonomy”, “in total contradiction with the nature of the
conflict”, “a delaying tactic which deliberately violates international
law”. [full text]
In the name of Algeria, Mohamed Cherif Abbass asserted that his country “would not accept the Moroccan proposal for autonomy and that the Baker Plan is still valid. Abdelkader Messahel pointed out in a press statement that “we are here to express Algeria’s solidarity and support for the Saharawi people in its just struggle to exercise their inalienable right of self-determination”. [Pictures of 27.02.07 ,AmbRASD Alger]
The traditional military parade was followed by the destruction of a stock of anti-personnel mines, in the presence of a representative of Geneva Call.
[Press Release, Geneva Call and Saharawi Campaign to Ban Landmines, 01.03.07].
A Spaniard, Manuel Morente won the 7th marathon, followed by his compatriots Francisco San Marco and Ricardo García Cuervo. A Saharawi, Abdelaziz Haddi Youssef gained first place in the semi-marathon, and his compatriot, Salah Hmetou Ameidan was second and the Spaniard, Juan Carlos Salvador., third. A Saharawi, Mohamed Ethmani won the 10 km race, a New Zealander, Henrik Han the 5 km race, followed by an Australian Franz Land.
The women’s 5 km, which comprises four categories, was taken respectively by Mamía Husein (SADR); Margarita Alonso (Spain); Simona Montali (Italiy) and Isabel Degriere (Germany).
Mohamed Abdelaziz invited the Saharawi athletes who took part in the Sahara Marathon to dinner, including Salah Hmatou Ameidan who had worn the national colours of SADR at the international competitions in France. He also received Aouicha Ramdan, wife of the human rights activist in Western Sahara, Ali Salem Tamek and their daughter Thawra [SPS]
TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO
At the beginning of February in El Ayoun, at the request of the Moroccan side, a meeting was held between members of ASVDH and representatives of Moroccan human rights associations. Attacks on human rights in Western Sahara and in Morocco were discussed. [corr.]
24.02.07, Great Britain
At the end of the meeting between the former Saharawi prisoner of conscience, Ali Salem Tamek and the parliamentarians, Mark Williams, from the Liberal Democrat Party, Katy Clark, Des Turner and John Grogan, from Labour, they expressed their support of the Saharawi people for self-determination and their condemnation of attacks on human rights in Western Sahara. The MP, Jeremy Corbyn, who invited Tamek to the United Kingdom, considered it scandalous that the international community should remain incapable of imposing its decisions relating to the referendum of self-determination in Western Sahara.
27.02.07, El Ayoun
Several demonstrations took place in Saharawi quarters on the occasion of the 31st anniversary of SADR. Over 25 Saharawis were arrested the week preceding the event. [SPS]
01.03.07, El Ayoun
A group of Saharawi activists formed a planning committee charged with creating a “civic entity”, with the aim of researching a peaceful solution to the conflict in Western Sahara, in accordance with international law, to monitor respect for human rights and to promote real development in a people’s Maghreb. [corr.]
04.03.07, hunger strike
After over a month, the Saharawi political prisoners in the Black Prison have ended their hunger strike.
Aminatou Haidar is on a tour of Norway. [see some Media cover on Norvegian support committee website]
The court of appeal in El Ayoun sentenced Brahim Sabbar and Ahmed Sbai to a year’s prison, Ahmeidat Mohamed Salem, Elgasmi Lahbib and Toubali Elhafed to three years in prison. The trial of the sixth accused, Loumadi Abdeslam, was postponed until 20 March. Sabbar was earlier sentenced to two years in prison. [ASVDH] [ASVDH Arabic]
Amnesty international expressed its concern at the sentencing of two Saharawi human rights defenders, Brahim Sabbar and Ahmed Sbai.
[Public Statement AI Index: MDE 29/004/2007 News Service No: 046 8 March 2007, Morocco/Western Sahara: Sahrawi human rights defenders sentenced to year in prison] [Communiqué de l'Association française des Amis de la RASD, 09.03.07]
The King of Morocco signed the fishing agreement with EU, the last stage before the treaty, concluded after long negotiations, enters into force.
In his biography entitled, «Work hard, study… and keep out of politics», James Baker, former American Secretary of State and former special envoy of the United Nations for Western Sahara refers to the conflict. “Kofi Annan asked me to help him in the settlement of this conflict considered as the last case of decolonization under the United Nations”, writes James Baker, who adds that “despite the very hard conditions in which the Saharawi people live, they remain attached to the values of democracy and have never opted for terrorism.".[Liberté, Alger, 26.02.07]
On the occasion of the presentation of his latest work, "Independent Diplomat: Dispatches from an Unaccountable Elite", the former British diplomat, Carne Ross accused Morocco of interfering with the efforts of the UN for a just and global settlement of the conflict in Western Sahara, in accordance with the UN plan. Ross was in charge of the Western Sahara while he was first secretary of the British mission at the United Nations in charge of the Middle East and the Maghreb. [28.02.07] [see Book Reviews on Independent Diplomat]
Saharawi diplomatic tour
The Angolan President, José Eduardo Dos Santos and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Congo Brazzaville Rodolphe Adaba received M'hamed Khaddad, Saharawi coordinator with MINURSO, on 27.02.07 and 02.03.07 respectively. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Panama, Samuel Lewis, had talks on 28 February with Ahmed Boukhari, special representative of the Saharawi president. The Saharawi Ambassador in South Africa, Ubbi Bachir, was received on 1st March by Blade Nzimande, Secretary General of the South African Communist Party.
A spokesman of the Algerian Ministry for Foreign Affairs made public a declaration on the question of Western Sahara. “Algeria has constantly and clearly marked its support for a solution based on the satisfaction of the inalienable right of the Saharawi people to self-determination. Algeria remains convinced that the Baker plan is still valid as a political solution to the conflict as it constitutes for such a solution the only recognised legal and framework regarded as valid by the international community.” [texte intégral]
Moroccan autonomy proposal – promotion tour, continued
Returning from the visit of the Moroccan delegation to the USA, Robert S. Ford, US Ambassador to Algeria, declared that “nothing concrete had been proposed. The Moroccans did not give us any detail concerning the content of their proposal”. He added that any proposal, not only must not be in contradiction with resolutions already approved by the parties to the conflict, but must recognised the Polisario Front unquestionably as the other party to the talks. [L'Expression, Alger, 05.03.07]
After Paris, Washington and London, the inter-ministerial delegation continued its tour of member countries of the Security Council to present the autonomy proposal for Western Sahara.
26.02.07, European Union/Germany
The German Minister for Foreign Affairs, Walter Steinmeier, current president of the European Union, welcomed this initiative. The European Union, he declared, will study this plan with much interest and will discuss it. [official statement]
The Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sergueï Lavrov stressed the need to arrive at a just and long-term political settlement which would correspond to UN Security Council resolutions. He pointed out that the proposed plan needed to be improved.
The proposal was also presented to the King of Saudi Arabia, Abdallah Ibn Abdelaziz, to the head of the Mauritanian state, to leaders in Senegal and the United Arab Emirates.
The new Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Western Sahara, Julian Harston, arrived in Laayoune (1251km south of Rabat), to take up his post as new head of the MINURSO.
The Saharawi president travelled to New York, where he met representatives of member countries of the Security Council. On 9 March, he talked for 45 minutes with the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. He continued his visit in Washington.[full text english]
At the end of April the Security Council will discuss the question of Western Sahara, the mandate of MINURSO will end on 30 April. A report of the Secretary General to the Security Council is announced for 20 April.
The European Coordination of support for the Saharawi people sent a letter on 8 March to the Secretary General .[letter english] and launched an appeal for signatures on the internet:
Sign - firmare
SPAIN - MOROCCO
On the eve of the Spanish-Moroccan summit, the Spanish branch of Amnesty International, in a letter to the head of government, pointed out the question of the human rights situation in Western Sahara and that of the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people. [Nota]
05-06.03.07, eighth Spanish-Moroccan summit
The two governments met in Rabat to discuss bilateral relations. The meeting concluded in several economic and political agreements, putting into action the excellent relations between the two countries. The question of Western Sahara was likewise on the agenda.
According to a final joint statement, “the Spanish party welcomed the Moroccan proposal [of autonomy] with interest and considers that it could set off a new impetus to dialogue to overcome the present impasse and to progress on this basis to reach a resolution of this dispute which assures the principle of self-determination”.
Morocco and Spain “renewed their commitment to finding a political, just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution within the framework of the United Nations” to the question of the Sahara.[AFP] [EFE]
For the Spanish
press, which reported these statements widely, Spain is aligning itself
with Morocco, accepts the autonomy plan, abandons the Sahara... [revista de prensa Sahara-Info 07.03.07]
Polisario Front representatives expressed their disappointment in the
face of this “demonstration of hostility”, described as “a dangerous
and disappointing declaration”. Ahmed Boukhari deplored the Spanish
government’s new shift in position and its precipitation in supporting
the unilateral proposal of autonomy. Brahim Ghali demanded the Spanish
government to defend international law and the political powers as well
as Spanish civil society to “oppose firmly” the “attempts to confiscate
the legitimate rights of the Saharawi people to decide freely their own
For the Spanish solidarity movement, the position of the government, called “shameful”, is “a betrayal of the Saharawi people and support for the occupation”. The Coordination of Spanish associations in solidarity with the Sahara CEAS, warns that Spanish support for the Moroccan plan will only bring war and suffering both for the Saharawis and for the Moroccans and the rest of the region.[revista de prensa Sahara-Info 08.03.07] [revue de presse Sahara-Info 07.03.07] [Declaracion de la Fedissah - Federación estatal de instituciones solidarias con el pueblo saharaui, 08.03.07][Declaracion de la CEAS, Coordinadora estatal de asociaciones solidarias con el Sahara, 09.03.07]
The secretary general of the United Left (Izquierda Unida - the government coalition) considers that Zapatero has put relations with Morocco before the right to self-determination and that he has betrayed the Saharawi cause. During a press conference he demanded of the government to review “immediately” its policy on the conflict in Western Sahara, in contradiction with the position of the Parliament.
The Popular Party (opposition) for its part accuses the government of having broken the principle of active neutrality which had characterised the traditional position of Spain. Several regional parties expressed similar strongly critical views.
06.03.07, judicial inquiry
The public prosecutor of the National Audience, the highest penal body in Spain, asked Judge Baltasar Garzon to investigate a complaint of genocide lodged last September against 32 Moroccan officials. The advice of the public prosecutor is dated 5 December. [El Mundo, 06.03.07, in Sahara-Info]
The complaint had been lodged on 14 September 2006 by several human rights organisations against 32 Moroccan leaders and soldiers by reason of their responsibility in the genocide, torture, illegal detentions, abductions and disappearances practised by the Kingdom of Morocco against the Saharawi people since October 1975. [news weeks 37-38/2006] [Rebelion, 16.09.06]
On 15 September 1998 a complaint of genocide against the Saharawi people had been lodged against Hassan II. Judge Garzon had shelved the complaint because of the immunity pertaining to current heads of state. [news week 43/1998] , and [news week 01/1999]
Within the context of an EU/Morocco meeting in Barcelona and the inauguration of the PEV (European Neighbourhood Program], the European commissioner responsible for external relations and neighbourhood policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, proposed aid amounting to 654 million euros to support the “process of very ambitious reforms” undertaken by Morocco. This package represents an increase of nearly 20% in relation to the annual average for the period 1995-2006 and bears on social, economic development, human rights and governance, the environment as well as institutional support.
During a 2nd interparliamentary meeting, the Saharawi National Council and the Parliament of Navarra exchanged experiences in the aim of making institutions more democratic internally.
The National Council of the Norwegian Liberal Party, in a resolution, asks Norway to recognise Western Sahara as an independent state; to put pressure on Morocco to respect the rights of Saharawis and for all prisoners of conscience to be released; that Norway in collaboration with other member countries of AELE, should follow the example of the United States and demand that the association agreement between Morocco and AELE should exclude merchandise sourced in Western Sahara.[Norwegian original text] [English statement]
Trades Union delegates of the Landsorganisasjonen i Norge - LO [General Confedération of Labour of Norway], meeting in Trondheim, demand also the recognition of SADR and respect for human rights in Western Sahara, but in addition that Norway should put pressure on the Moroccan and French authorities to respect the legitimate rights of the Saharawis; that Norway should commit itself to obtaining a ban on economic relations with the occupied territory and that it should increase its aid to the Saharawi refugees in Algeria.[original text] [texte en français]
The second national meeting of solidarity with the Saharawi cause, organised by the Venezuelan delegation to PARLATINO, the Latin American Parliament, was opened in Caracas by the MP Gustavo Hernandez. It took place in the presence of numerous guests, including the Saharawi Ambassador Baricalla and representatives of Asovessa, the Venezuelan Association of solidarity with the Sahara.[statement in English]
The Saharawi community in France celebrated in Mantes-la-Jolie the 31st anniversary of the proclamation of SADR in the presence of the Saharawi former political prisoner Ali Salem Tamek and the representative of the Polisario Front in France, Sadafa Bahia.
The Colombian parlliament approved a resolution in favour of the decolonization of Western Sahara.
08.03.07, "International Women’s Day”
The National Union of Saharawi Women launched an appeal on this occasion [Llamamiento de las Mujeres Saharauis]
Mujer y Cooperación en San Sebastian de los Reyes (Madrid)
Delegación de Cooperación al Desarollo del Ayuntamiento
Exposiciones: 26 de febrero al 9 de marzo: «Miradas», Centro Claudio Rodriguez 1 al 15 marzo: “Mujer en el Sahara”, Centro Actúa 15 al 30 de marzo: “Casas de Mujer”, Centro Actúa.
Coloquios y talleres formativos: 8 de marzo, 19 horas: La situación de la mujer saharaui en los campamentos y su participación en el conflicto saharaui.
15 de marzo, 17 horas: Las mujeres en la cooperación al desarrollo. http://www.ssreyes.org/
5, 6, and 7 april 2007, Vth Congress of the National Union Saharawi Women, NUWS, Saharawi refugee camps, Tindouf, Algeria
Madrid- Tindouf - Madrid: 3/4 avril - 8 avril 2007
Info, contact: Zahra Ramdan, e-mail: saharawiwomen[at]yahoo.es y Victoria Peralta, e-mail: grupoapoyounms[at]hotmail.com
Site web officiel du gouvernement de la RASD (arabe): http://www.rasd-state.ws/
Sitio web oficial del Gobierno de la RASD (arabe): http://www.rasd-state.ws/
Official website of the SADR Government (arabe); http://www.rasd-state.ws/
[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
Independent Diplomat: Dispatches from an Unaccountable Elite, Ross Carne, Cornell Univ Pr, 2007, 240 p.
>> Revista de la prensa en español http://es.groups.yahoo.com/group/revista-de-prensa-sahara-occidental/messages