Aminatu Haidar : "They exercised on me all sorts of inhuman ill-treatments"

Imprisoned for a month so far in the Black Jail in the Capital of Western Sahara, Aminatou Haidar answered the questions of the newspaper ABC, from her cell, thanks to collaboration of Saharawi activists.

LUIS DE VEGA. Special Envoy, ABC, 13.07.05 [Translation from the original to English by arso collaborator]

El Aaiun. Human rights activist, Aminatu Haidar, is waiting for judgment in the Black Jail of El Aaiun. Everybody in the Western Sahara is awaiting for that trial, which date is not yet fixed.

ABC- Can you tell us how and why are you in detention?
Aminatu Haidar - I was in the occupied El Aaiun last June the 17th, where, with other Saharawi human rights activists, we were preparing a demonstration of solidarity with the victims of the "intifada". Moroccan forces of security violently intervened, led, among others, by the torturers Ichi Abou El Hasan and Hamid Bahri. Many among us were seriously injuried. We were transferred to the Belmehdi hospital. It was in this room of emergencies that I was abducted, with the complicity of the staff of the hospital. At the same time another Saharawi human rights activist, Hmad Hammad, was brutally tortured.

ABC - What are the accusations, Moroccan authorities advance against you?
Aminatu Haidar - They exercised on me all sorts of inhuman ill-treatments and intensive interrogatories so as to know about all my activities, especially regarding the question of Western Sahara. They tried, in vain, to implicate me in pretended acts of violence and in what they call « insults against sacred symbols of the State and threat to the security of the Moroccan State". They invented all kinds of accusations and they tried to force me sign revelation.

ABC - What is your motivation as a Saharawi human rights activist?
Aminatu Haidar - I lived the experience of detention in 1987, in my own flesh and blood, for more than 3 years and a half, beside many other Saharawis, male and female. Many of whom died under torture. After I was released this experience motivated me to struggle for the rights of the victims of these violations so as to stop it, to reveal the identities of the authors of the violations, to arise awareness on the situation and encourage all the Saharawi society to join the struggle.

ABC - What are the conditions of detention in the Black Prison in El Aaiun?
Aminatu Haidar - It is considered as one of the worst prisons, because it does not offer the minimal conditions of life. I am now in an isolation cell, with no fresh air nor light, with deep injuries in my head that I did not had the right to treat. I am deprived of visits and do not have access to newspapers, magazines or telephone and other facilities. All this is only a part of a vicious campaign led by Moroccan regime and its official press agency, MAP, to isolate us from the outside world.

ABC - What should be the role of Spain, in your opinion?
Aminatu Haidar - The position of the Spanish Government on the question of the Sahara is still ambiguous and lacks courage. I consider that Spain has got a full historical responsibility towards Saharawi people, since it is still the administrating power of the territory. Consequently, it is time for Spain to pressure Morocco.

ABC - What do you expect from the Parliamentarian delegation's visit to Sahara, Morocco and Spain want to organise?
Aminatu Haidar - We expect a lot out of these kinds of activities, if it is transparent. After the denial of entry to the territory to many groups and personalities, I think that the visit must have as a goal to realise its real objective, which is the role of a committee for investigation on the repeated violations and physical torture Saharawis undergo.

ABC - What do you expect from the UN?
Aminatu Haidar - Saharawis do not ask the UN anything but to implement its resolutions, which recommend the right to self-determination.

ABC - Why choosing this moment to start this "intifada"?
Aminatu Haidar - That was the decision of the Saharawi population that revolted because of this situation of "no war no peace", which is a favourable situation to the regime of the occupation while the Saharawi people is suffering.


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