Association des familles des prisonniers et disparus sahraouis
Camps de réfugiés
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Bureau des Droits de l'Homme de la Coordination européenne du soutien au Peuple Sahraoui
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Fax: 022 /320 65 50
Update on the current situation
by Abdeslam Omar Lahcen, president of AFAPREDESA
The President of AFAPREDESA visited Geneva for the UN Human Rights Commission , and commented on: the latest events regarding the internal situation of AFAPREDESA; human rights issues in the framework of the peace plan; Amnesty's visit to Morocco, and the 50th anniversary of Human Rights.
AFAPREDESA, internal situation
The General Assembly of this association was held 27 -29 April in the refugee camps, at the 27 February School. In attendance were: 550 men and women delegates from three different dairas; delegates from the Union of Saharawi Jurists; the Saharawi National Women's Union; the Saharawi Workers Union; the Spanish HCR Aid Committee.
In addition to its usual objective, i.e. researching the fate of disappeared Saharawis, AFAPREDESA determined new objectives, especially promotion and monitoring of human rights in Western Sahara, the Assembly also debated its preoccupations, in particular its material difficulties, and its lack of personnel qualified to examine complex dossiers.
Human Rights and the Peace Plan
At present the peace plan is in deadlock. We are pleased about the progress made by MINURSO, particularly the identification process. However many obstacles are still in the path of further progress. Forthcoming meetings of both parties under the auspices of James Baker could break the current deadlock.
The issue of hundreds of disappeared Saharawis remains a matter of constant concern for AFAPREDESA and this is why we are constantly striving to understand their fate. We hope that the efforts made by Mr. Roucounas, independent UN jurist for Western Sahara will be fruitful. The latter went to the region last August and met Saharawi and Moroccan authorities.
Amnesty International's visit to Morocco. *
We are very happy that a high level delegation from AI was able to visit Morocco, whereas a few months ago, AI were persona non grata there. Mr. Pierre Sana, General Secretary of AI, was able to meet Mohammed Daddach, a Saharawi detainee since 1976.** The latter was able to tell AI of the conditions under which he was being held.
* AI's report on human rights in Morocco caused a stir in the Moroccan political class. Driss Basri, Minister for Internal Affairs [Moroccan Home Office] declared that AI were not objective, and that there were no political prisoners in Morocco.
**El Karama has called for your solidarity several times regarding Mohammed Daddach. The European Bureau for Human Rights in Western Sahara hopes that AI's efforts for the liberation of Moh. Daddach will intensify after this visit.
The 50th Anniversary of Human Rights
The Assembly noted that, on this 50th anniversary, even though some progress has been made, human rights are still violated throughout the world, and there is regression in some cases.
AFAPREDESA attended the International Forum of Northern and Southern NGOs held in Geneva 28 - 30 August 98, at the invitation of Association Forum 98: Declaration of Human Rights - 50 Years On, initiated by the Swiss Confederation with NGOs concerned with Human Rights in Geneva. After three days debating the situation over the world, the Forum adopted the Geneva Declarations to reinforce the work of defenders of Human Rights.
UN Human Rights Sub-Commission
Thanks to support form the bureau and the Swiss WSC, AFAPREDESA was able to attend the recent session, with the Saharawi Jurists Union. The human rights situation in Western Sahara was clarified with the Commission's experts, state representatives and several NGOs. The CETIM, FEDEFAM, MRAP and Pax Christi all intervened regarding Moroccan hindrances to the peace process. The International Association of Jurists allowed Mr. El Haissen Abba Salek, general secretary of the Shaharawi Jurists Union, to speak. Away from the main talks, we also met other international bodies, especially the International Red Cross who told us of their concern for Saharawi prisoners of war and disappeared. We also raised the question of Mohamed Daddach and the fate of the Moroccan prisoners of war freed by Polisario in April 97 during the visit of James Baker, who still have not been able to rejoin their families.
CHRONICLE OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN WESTERN SAHARA
25 May 98, South Morocco:
On the 20 May 98, a parade of unemployed qualified Saharawis in Tan Tan was violently broken up by the police. Baba El Mahjoub Saleh El Asri was beaten and severely injured.
25 May 98, Assa: at the same time, health workers were starting an indefinite strike to call for the end of repression of Saharawis. (AFAPREDESA).
21 May 98, Occupied Territory: Mohamed Najem Cheyguer Daha, was accosted by a Moroccan policeman in Smara. He suffered a fractured left leg and right arm. His friends have asked in vain for an explanation of this aggression. Daha has been arrested several times since 1976. His right leg was amputated in 1989 following a bullet wound from Moroccan soldiers. since his liberation in 1990, he is suffering major psychological traumas.
26 May 98, Lemseyed: the twelve prisoners condemned to 30 months imprisonment on 21 April for demonstrating have been released from Inezgane prison. 150 Saharawis in traditional dress celebrated their release, and held a pro-Saharawi rally. (AFAPREDESA)
28 September 98: A meeting of the Moroccan Human Rights Council, appointed by King Hassan 2, decided to compensate families of 112 disappeared Moroccans. Morocco now recognises that 112 have disappeared between 1960 and 1980. 70 of these have died, 30 of which at the Tazmamart prison. Death certificates are also to be written. (Reuters)
Former Saharawi disappeared are also trying to gain similar rights and are requesting compensation for illegal imprisonment. they plan to organise a sit-in in Rabat. Interestingly, the Moroccan newspaper Nachra is covering this story.
At the request of SADR government, the NGO "Norwegian People's Aid" has set up a project to train Saharawi refugees in land-mines awareness. It is open to all Saharawis. Four instructors are in the camps and are training Saharawi instructors. By this initiative, it is hoped to avoid tragic and dramatic accidents while travelling in Western Sahara which is mined
Monnina, I would like your name to be inscribed in the memory of the greatest possible number of people - that they should not forget.
During the course of her work for her Beaux-Arts Diploma in Fine Arts, Communication, Carine Bigot of Toulouse , France, produced a piece presenting the Saharawi woman whom she adopted as part of the European adoption campaign. The journey in the invented life of Monnina has several chapters. ( For more information, contact Carine at 9, rue des Paradoux, 31000 Toulouse, France). Here is the open letter addressed to Monnina. it has also been sent to: King Hassan 2, Jaques Chirac, Jack Lang, Danielle Mitterand, Mary Robins, High Commissioner to the HAR, Charles F. Dunbar, UN Special Rep. for WS.
You don't know me. My name is Carine Bigot, I live in Toulouse, France. I am studying at the Beaux- Arts College. You do not know me, and I know you so little, not even your age, not even your face.
Only a few details identify you:
- Monnina Ali Omar, a Saharawi woman, disappeared in Dakhla in Western Sahara in 1980, region annexed by Morocco in 1976.
I obtained this information from the Friends of SADR (Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic) who are the intermediary between you and I, without your knowing about it. I am your "godmother", in the terminology of international organisations who attempt to bring prisoners out of anonimity and disappearance, and to get them freed.
This lack of information about your existence pushes me to write this open letter, open to all, but addressed to you.
You have disappeared from the eyes of the world and of your family. I would like to state your presence. I have started a work of plastic art about your isolation and your anonymity; it tries to make you live the life you don't have. Just think, I was 8 when you were kidnapped, 18 years have gone by in which I have grown up and got older, and you have seen none of those days which dawned for me. In your story there is a profound injustice, and in my perception of your story, a non-comprehending about your 18 years of being locked away. A non-sense in our respective lives.
I decided to invent for you an existence in the town where I live.
I envisaged your disappearance as a mental, moral and philosophical impossibility.
Wherever you may be held, you live, and you live everywhere.
You exist close to my daily life, through the workings of an invented life.
You, whom maybe this letter will reach, please understand that this expression imagined in a story attempts to tell of your isolation, through aphorisms and symbols, yours and that of other men and women prisoners... Something imaginary speaks to passers-by of the very real existence of your captivity. Your daily gestures tell of your culture, from the way you walk to the way you make your tea; this minimum identity is forbidden to you ...
Monnina, I would love to know you are free and happy. That you may sing....
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