Press statement

from the EP intergroup "Peace for the Saharawi People"

bout the current Moroccan repression in the occupied territories of Western Sahara


The European Parliament intergroup "Peace for the Saharawi People" deplores the wave of violence which is being unleashed at the moment on the Saharawi people of the city of Smara in the occupied territories of Western Sahara.

It expresses it most urgent concern at the fact that the Moroccan security forces have targeted defenceless civilian population. It expresses its utmost concern at the high numbers of people wounded, arrested arbitrarily, thrown into detention, and interrogated under torture. The intergroup further deplores that the houses of other Saharawi civilians were forced and their inhabitants beaten up by Moroccan security forces.

These highly worrying events constitute cases of gross violations of human rights: they are in total contrast with the recent liberation of 56 political prisoners by Moroccan authorities, amongst whom Mohamed Daddach and 24 other Saharawi political prisoners. In fact, the weekend repression and violence shows the recent liberations as mere acts of publicity in a damage control exercise following the king's provocative visit to the occupied territories of Western Sahara. The intergroup is further aware that, at the beginning of November, some dozens of peaceful Saharawi people gathered in Smara in order to protest against the king's visit, and that their demonstration resulted into the king's decision to cancel his journey to Smara. The intergroup is therefore very worried that this repression is the expression of the Moroccan authorities' vengeance against peaceful Saharawi people who demanded their right to free expression.

The intergroup is also aware that these acts of violence against the Saharawi people in Smara follow the interdiction imposed on Danielle Mitterrand and the Fondation France Libertés to travel to the occupied territories: such developments indicate that the Moroccan authorities do not want the presence of independent observers in occupied Western Sahara at all.

The weekend events also raise serious questions yet again about the passivity of the MINURSO in front of these exactions.

The European Parliament intergroup "Peace for the Saharawi People" wishes to denounce the events that took place in Smara as unjustifiable and unacceptable. The intergroup therefore demands the immediate release of all the Saharawis who have been victims of unlawful and arbitrary arrest over the past few days.

Brussels, 19.11.01

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