Résumé November 2007
WEEKS 45 - 48 : 01.11. - 30.11.2007
Anniversary of the “green” march
In his speech, the King of Morocco declares that “whatever formula for a consensual solution should emerge from the serious negotiations, Morocco, its king and its people, will never accept anything other than autonomy, within the framework of a single and unified state”.
The Saharawi government firmly condemned the King of Morocco’s statement, calling it “the Moroccan state’s violation of international law” and a “denial of its commitments”.
For his part, the representative of the Polisario Front representative in the UK and Ireland, Sidi M'hamed Omar, in an interview with APS declared that the anniversary of the “black march” recalls “a sinister day in history for the whole region and marks the start of Morocco’s expansionist policy in the region.
10.11.07 Transafricain classic
“Following talks with the Quai d'Orsay and the Moroccan and Mauritanian authorities, the 2nd Transafrican Classic 2007 running from Paris to Dakar (01-18.11.07) had to modify the stage planned between Ausserd (Occupied Territories) and Chinguetti (Mauritania), because of the ‘instability of the border area’. The organiser, Patrick Zaniroli therefore added an additional stage of over 500 kilometres, in order to send the competitors through the control post on the Atlantic coast, the only way through from Morocco to Mauritania tolerated by the Polisario Front and the SADR government.” [communiqué officiel]
The president of the international branch of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), the oldest British trades union body, Simon Steyne, underlined in Geneva that “the fairest and most realistic alternative for the question of Western Sahara is the self-determination of the Saharawi people”.
The Norwegian Young Conservatives asked their government to recognise the Saharawi Republic. [Resolution] [original]
TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO
Cases of questioning and arrest have been increasing in the territories. The Moroccan police, plain clothed or uniformed gather near or even inside educational establishments and in the areas with a majority Saharawi population. Provocations are common. Young Saharawi cybernauts, suspected of having looked at web pages revealing the abuses committed by the Moroccan police are insulted or heckled. CODESA therefore published on 27.11.07 a list of 40 names of young Saharawis arrested during the month of November.[communiqué]
One attack in particular, in El Ayoun, to point out is that made upon El-Houcine Lemlih (40 ans), who was listening to the Saharawi radio while walking in the street. Followed by plain-clothed police, he took refuge in the Smara Hotel, where his torturers caught up with him and threw him out a window. Lemlih was seriously injured and is still in hospital.
The mother of the political prisoner and member of CODESA Elwali Amidane and Rabab Amidane, as well as her two other daughters were called in for questioning on 9 November with a dozen other people coming away from a demonstration in El Ayoun. [Photos]
These arrests triggered a demonstration outside the Moroccan Embassy in Oslo with Rabab Amidane, on a visit to Norway.
Norwegian political figures spoke. A delegation was received by the Ambassador, who denied the existence of attacks on human rights in Western Sahara. [report + photos]
At its Board Meeting in Vilnius, December 2nd 2007, The European Students' Union (ESU), umbrella organisation of 47 national unions of students from 36 countries, unanimously voted through a motion calling for the protection of Saharawi students.[text]
Sadik Boullahi, a member of the executive of ASVDH, was sentenced in the court of first instance to six months in prison and a fine of 5.000 DH for “creating a non-authorised association”. [ASVDH]
Khalihenna Dlimi, Barkou Ahmed and Mouloud, accused of imaginary crimes appeared in court in the presence of two Spanish observers. On 28 November, Dlimi and Mouloud Barkou were sentenced to a year, Hamid to a year and a half of prison in the presence of two other Spanish observers.
The president of the local committee of ASVDH in Boujdour, Mohamed TAHLIL, was given a sentence in the court of first instance of a fine of 120 MDH for the destruction of public property. The sentence was handed down before the barristers and observers arrived and without even the accused in court. Tahlil was sentenced to three years in prison on 19 September 2007 for “setting up a criminal band”. He appeared on 4 December to appeal that judgment in the presence of five Spanish observers and one Swiss observer. His punishment was reduced from 3 to 2 years in prison.[ASVDH]
During a reception in London of the Saharawi human rights activist and prisoner of conscience, Aminatou Haidar, two British Labor members of parliament, David Drew and Jeremy Corbyn, condemned the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Moroccan authorities in the occupied Saharawi regions and the military blockade and media blackout imposed by Morocco in Western Sahara. Aminatou Haidar also met officials of the Foreign Office and Amnesty International. [SPS]
The Collective of Saharawi Human Rights defenders (CODESA) called for the opening of an international inquiry into the serious human rights abuses committed by the Moroccan state in the occupied territories of Western Sahara.
A delegation of Human Rights Watch, led by Eric Goldstein, is carrying out a visit to the occupied territories of Western Sahara to inquire into developments in human rights. On this occasion, the Moroccan police were deployed throughout the whole zone and proceeded to a number of arrests, 70 according to the Saharawi minister for the occupied territory, Khalil Sid Mhamed. In Smara the arrival of the delegation gave place to a demonstration, brutally dispersed and followed by the sacking of several houses by the police.
Sabah Khoury, official in the department of Human Rights in the American Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stayed for two days in El Ayoun, accompanied by Craig Karp, counselor with the US Embassy in Rabat. The delegation insisted on visiting the Black Prison. [16.11.07, Aujourd'hui le Maroc ]
The British MP David Drew questioned the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the house on the subject of the Saharawi refugees. [Text]
The NGO Law-Solidarity and the International Association of Democrat Lawyers protested about the various sentences in recent weeks.
They denounced the impediments set by the Moroccan authorities to setting up associations to defend human rights in the occupied territories, quoting the example of ASVDH, the victim of an abuse of authority by the pacha of El Ayoun, who refused the registration of this NGO, which was confirmed by the Administrative Tribunal of Agadir on 21 September 2006. [Droit-solidarité] [Déclaration de L’AIJD]
CODESA, which suffered from a similar refusal, postponed its founding meeting, planned for the beginning of October, indefinitely. [details]
Saharawi students, forbidden access to post graduate studies within Moroccan universities since 19 October 2007, started in November a hunger strike outside the office of the regional administration in Goulimine. Saharawi students at the university of Mohammedia demonstrated against the ban on dozens of students their pursuing their studies. Ali Salem Tamek did not receive his authorisation to enrol at the university of Mohammedia, where he was preparing to undertake studies in law and journalism.
Several Saharawi political detainees, among them Mohamed Tahlil, Ahmed Sbai, Ahamed Mahmoud Haddi Elkainan, Mohamed Lehbib Elgasmi, Bachir Khadda and Elhafed Toubali, were attacked by prison warders. [ASVDH] [ASVDH]
22-24.11.07, 4th Dublin Platform
This international conference organised by Front Line provided an opportunity to discuss the attacks on the rights of human rights defenders, to establish contacts between defenders and to talk about practical experiences. Aminatou Haidar spoke about the situation in Western Sahara and asked that the embargo be lifted on the 2006 report of the OHCHR on human rights in occupied Western Sahara. The Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern presided at the opening of the conference, in which Mrs Louise Arbour, UN High Commissioner for human rights, took part. [more] [Intervention of Aminatou Haidar, French]
A common grave containing the mortal remains of five people was discovered by chance on 20 November near the grounds of the Black Prison. The authorities revealed this fact a week later. ASVDH demands that “light must be shed on the identity of these persons”, this prison having been, in the years 1976-1978, a secret detention centre from which numerous Saharawis never returned. The Moroccan authorities rapidly disinterred the bones, claiming that they were very old Saharawi tombs. According to ASVDH, the Saharawis “never bury their dead on the sides of wadis and even less far away from the city cemetries”. CODESA also condemned the attitude of the authorities and asked for the identification of the human remains. [AFAPREDESA, 27.11.07] [CODESA statement, 29.11.07]
A young Saharawi student at the University of Agadir, Al Koumani Faisail Al Houssein Saleh, died after having been hit successively by two cars outside the university. Saharawi students gathered as a sign of solidarity and to protest against “the desire of the local authorities to humiliate Saharawi students”. The European parliamentary intergroup “Peace for the Saharawi People”, condemned what it called an “assassination”.
The King of Morocco visited Goulimine, Sidi Ifni, Fask, Asrir and Assa.
See also, French, press reviews on Sahara Info: Sahara Occidental/Territoires occupés : [I] [II] [III]
A ship called, Makra, sailing under a Liberian flag, on 17 October unloaded its cargo of phosphate coming from Western Sahara. The Jin Yi did the same in Fremantle on 10 November on behalf of Wesfarmers CSBP, and the previous week its sister ship, Jin Xing in Geelong for Incitec Pivot. The Genco Carrier arrived in Lyttleton (Christchurch) lon 28 November, carrying phosphate from Western Sahara, although the official origin indicated was Morocco. [doc]
Cate Lewis, secretary of the Australian association of friendship with the Saharawi people, AWSA, declared that the Australian fertiliser companies which import phosphate from Western Sahara participate economically and politically in the occupation of Western Sahara. They are not apparently concerned by the charges drawn up by the Spanish judge Garzon against high-ranking Moroccan dignitaries of torture and genocide.
The maritime transport company, Arnesen Shipbrokers, based in Farsund in Norway, delivered to Lithuania in July phosphate from Western Sahara. The parliamentarian, Anne Margrethe Larsen, a member of the Foreign Affairs committee, criticised the company for not respecting the recommendations of the Norwegian government.
[Original version (Norwegian)] [English translation]
A Norwegian pension fund, (Kommunal Landspensjonskasse Mutual Insurance Company (KLP)) has blacklisted the company Wesfarmers CSBP for unethical behaviour and has withdrawn its investment in Wesfarmers from its share portfolio. According to the Norwegian business daily Dagens Næringsliv it took this step because of the illegal importation of phosphate sourced in Western Sahara. [Dagens Næringsliv] [Dagens Næringsliv, Engl. translation] [KLP Press Statement, 03.12.07]
AWSA, the Australian association of solidarity with Western Sahara appealed to the new federal government to intervene to put an end to the illegal importations of fertilisers from two other Australian companies, Incitec Pivot and Impact Fertilisers who are also involved in this trade.
[AWSA Statement 04.12.07] [AWSA Statement 05.12.07]
The Swedish bank, KPA Pension also mentions WESFARMERS in its recent black list of investments to avoid.
For several years importations of phosphate from Western Sahara have been followed, monitored and denounced by the coalition of NGOs, Western Sahara Resource Watch.
The company, Island Oil & Gas plc announced that its Moroccan branch, Island International Exploration Morocco, IIEM, had just signed with ONHYM (Office National marocain des Hydrocarbures et des Mines), seven exploration contracts in the region onshore of Tarfaya, valid for eight years. IIEM is associated with the operators Longreach Oil and Gas Ventures Limited and San Leon (Morocco) Limited.
According to Africa Energy Intelligence, the zone to be explored has two thirds of its extent within Western Sahara.[more]
The Saharawi minister for the Occupied Territories and the Diaspora, Khalil Sid Mhamed, on a visit to the Canaries, warned
the autonomous Canaries government that European investment planned for the Sahara are illegal (the European Union, within the framework of its neighbourhood policy, grants money to regions on the “ultra-periphery” - such as the Canaries – funding which is destined for the neighbouring countries). [Afrol News, espanol] REFERENDUM
The deputy for Seine-Maritime, the mayor of Gonfreville l'Orcher, Jean-Paul Lecoq, condemned before the French parliament the French policy of double standards towards the conflict in Western Sahara. [CORELSO]
The Moroccan government cancelled a seminar on Saharawi culture due to take place from 12 to 26 November on the island of Madeira within the peace process framework of “confidence-building measures”. [SPS]
In a newly published work, Surrender is not an option, the former American UN ambassador, John Bolton, writes that the Bush administration has stopped supporting the referendum, persuaded that the Saharawis would vote for independence, which would destabilise Morocco and would open the way to radical Islamism. Bolton reveals that it was the lack of support by the US administration which forced Baker to resign in 2004. Bolton was the right hand man for Baker from 1997 to 2000. [more and link to excerpts from the book]
23-25.11.07, Prague, 2nd Congress of the European Left
A resolution on Western Sahara was adopted in favour of the right to self-determination and for the continuance of the negotiations.
The Saharawi minister for Foreign Affairs, Ould Salek announced that the 3rd round would take place in Manhasset from 7-9 January.
visit of Juan Carlos to Ceuta and Melilla
The visit of the King of Spain to the towns of Ceuta and Melilla provoked a strong nationalist reaction in Morocco and the anger of the King, who decided in person to recall “for an indeterminate duration” Morocco’s Ambassador in Madrid. He has still not returned to his post.
A Moroccan spy, Hicham Bouchti (see weej 33-34/2006) was charged with assassinating the journalist, Ali Lmrabet, according to his own declarations to the Moroccan weekly, El Micha'al. [more] [UPES Solidarity Statement] [CODESA’s reaction in solidarity with Lmrabet (in Arabic)]
The Spanish parliament passed a resolution from the “United Left” expressing the “urgency of a just and lasting solution” which would safeguard the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination. [original text in Spanish]
The regional Catalonian Parliament reaffirmed the right of the Saharawi people to self-detemination, in an institutional Declaration adopted on the occasion of the celebration of the international year of solidarity with the Saharawi people. [original text in catalan]
South-South meeting in Guatemala with the participation of human rights organisations from Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Western Sahara, Angola, Uruguay, Argentina and Sweden.
The executive of the Maghreb Coordination of Human Rights Organisations (CMODH) reaffirms, during its second meeting, the necessity of the recognition of the right of peoples to political, economic and cultural self-determination and the guarantee of collective participation in taking the decision.
The UN World Food Program (WFP) welcomed the contribution of a million euros from the Humanitarian Office of the European Commission (ECHO), which will be used to buy 1 400 tonnes of wheat flour, 250 tonnes of sugar and 200 tonnes of a mixture of wheat and soya to assist in feeding 125 000 of the most vulnerable refugees for a period of 26 days. [Reliefweb]
The second meeting to coordinate hygiene took place in the Saharawi camps with the participation of representatives of the UNHCR, UNICEF, ECHO, OMS, the Algerian Red Crescent and the Saharawi Red Crescent, the Spanish Agency of Cooperation (AECI) and Spanish, Italian and Norwegian NGOs. [SPS]
In London at Rich Mix Cultural Foundation a Saharawi cultural festival, organised by the British organisation "Sandblast" took place, preceded and accompanied by numerous cultural events. The film-maker Ken Loach, the Somali artist Mariam Mursal, the president of the Trades Union Congress, Alison Shepherd and the former Olympic champion Hassiba Boulmerka took part in the opening evening. [more]
The participants in a conference on Western Sahara at the seat of the British parliament on the theme “It is time to act”, demanded the publication of the OHCHR report in 2006 on the human rights situation sur in Western Sahara.
Several thousand people took part in a demonstration in Madrid in favour of the right to self-determination and against the repression in occupied Western Sahara.[Photo Reportages: http://sahararesiste.blogspot.com/>http://sahararesiste.blogspot.com/ ]
A Saharawi cultural week in Exconvento museum of Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico.
A delegation of Saharawi intellectuals and artists are taking part in the 2nd Festival of Peoples of Africa in Caracas, Venezuela.
Manifestation en faveur du droit à l’autodétermination du peuple sahraoui à l’occasion du sommet euro-africain, auquel la République sahraouie n’a pas été conviée: http://sahararesiste.blogspot.com/2007/12/8-de-diciembre-lisboa-concentracin-en.html
10-15.12.07, Festival de Cine Solidario de Guadalajara (FESCIGU)
Participation de la chanteuse sahraouie Aziza Brahim et de Hmad Hamad à l’occasion de la projection de "Children of the clouds", de Carlos González: http://www.cinefilia-films.com/
14.12- 18.12.07 Tifariti http://www.rasd-state.ws/12congreso.htm
XII Congrès du Front POLISARIO
XIIth Congress of the POLISARIO Front
XII Congreso del Frente POLISARIO
Amanecer del 2008 con los Saharauis: 29.12.07 - 03.01.08: http://www.saharaindependiente.org/agenda/w/agenda/amanecer2008.htm
05.01.-20.01.08 Euromilhoes Lisboa-Dakar 2008 (ex-Paris-Dakar)
07-09.01.08, Manhasset III
3e round des négociations entre le Front Polisario et le Maroc à Manhasset, New York (Etats Unis)
Sahara Marathon: http://www.saharamarathon.org/
New website - Nouveau site - Nuevo sitio
[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
>> Revista de la prensa en español http://es.groups.yahoo.com/group/revista-de-prensa-sahara-occidental/messages
Attualità in italiano: El Ouali Bologna: http://www.saharawi.org/saharawi.htm + Radio for Peace http://www.radiokcentrale.it/du.htm