WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

original french

WEEK 21

21.-27.05.2000

16-18.05.00
UN
A seminar in the Marshall Islands organised by the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, in the framework of the UN International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, brought together representatives of Non-Self-Governing Territories, administering powers, regional organisations and experts, with the aim of evaluating the situation of colonial countries or peoples. The Polisario Front representative in Australia presented the situation of Western Sahara, emphasising the UN's responsibility to put in place conditions allowing the Saharawi people to exercise its right to self-determination.

20.05.00
20 May1973 - 20 May
«There is no alternative to the independence of the Saharawi people», and this «is unavoidable», the Saharawi President announced to the combatants of the 7th military region meeting in Aghoueinit, in the liberated territories. Mohamed Abdelaziz spoke after the military manoeuvres which took place on the occasion of the 27th anniversary of the start of armed struggle in Western Sahara. «The third way can only be the return to arms», he considered calling the combatants and the Saharawi people to prepare for all eventualities. (
SPS)

21.05.00
Union of Saharawi Jurists
The UJS held its general assembly at the School of 27 February, in the refugee camps. After an account and an analysis of the present situation by its secretary-general , the assembly elected Abba Salek Haissen, secretary-general, and the members of the National Bureau: Mohamed Najem Abdi, Hafedallah Chaddad, Ahmed Sid Ali, Bah Elmad and Mohamed Salem Taibi. The assembly examined the human rights situation in Western Sahara and the repression suffered by Saharawi students in Rabat and Marrakech at the moment. The UJS denounced the arbitrary arrests and the oppression committed by the Moroccan forces of order. It asked the UN and human rights organisations to intervene «with the utmost urgency» to release the students involved. The UJS furthermore recalled that «the respect of human rights is an unavoidable condition for a free and transparent referendum in Western Sahara» (
UJS, SPS).

22.05.00
UN Secretary General's Report
S/2000/461 (http://www.un.org/Docs/sc/reports/2000/461e.pdf)
Kofi Annan asked his personal envoy, James Baker «to explore ways and means to achieve an early durable and agreed reolution
» of the differences between the parties. The meeting in London on 14 May had confirmed that their points of view are «widely divergent» and that they had made no proposals «on the way forward». In view of these different views and the absence of a mechanism to implement the settlement plan, Kofi Annan asked the parties to «offer specific and concrete solutions» or to «consider other ways of achieving» a resolution of their dispute. Meanwhile, he proposed an extension of MINURSO's mandate for two months, until 31 July 2000. The Council will make its resolution on 30 May.
The report also assesses the second part of the appeals process, appeals lodged relating to the voter list from the contested tribes number 54,889, of which 98.8% are from Morocco or the occupied territories. The total number of appeals is therefore 134,014.
Concerning the repatriation of the refugees, the UNHCR has «pre-registered» 120,000 people. These people 'in the overwhelming majority' wish to be repatriated to east of the wall, in the liberated territories.

Saharawi Reactions
Reacting to Kofi Annan's report in front of journalists, Ahmed Boukhari, Polisario Front representative to the UN, expressed the view that there is no alternative to the referendum. All the problems come from Morocco, he stated, adding that it is up to the UN to find a solution to the problem of the appeals and to put pressure on the two parties to accept and implement the result of the vote. (
Spanish press, 23.05.00)

«The Polisario Front will not take part in the next meeting between the parties concerned if the discussion does not take place within the framework of the UN peace plan», said Brahim Ghali, Polisario Front representative in Spain, at a press briefing in Madrid. «We require a precise timetable and an agenda», he added, making clear that the Polisario Front will no way accept an alternative to the referendum and demands the strict application of the settlement plan. Ghali stressed that there could be no agreement without the mediation of the USA. He criticised the political neutrality of the Spanish government, whose position comes down, in fact, to the same as Morocco's. (24.05.00, Spanish press, APS, SPS).

The Polisario Front hopes that the Security Council will spare no effort in preserving the settlement plan and encourages the two parties to the conflict to cooperate with the UN, writes Ahmed Boukhari, Saharawi representative to the UN, in a letter addressed to the President of the Security Council. Mr Boukhari deplored the fact that the UN's hesitations concerning the appeals contribute to encouraging Morocco in its obstruction. He pointed out that the divergences of view, highlighted by the SG thus reaching a pessimistic analysis, are not of the same order. The Polisario, in demanding a strict implementation of the peace plan and Houston agreements, remains faithful to the spirit and the letter of the UN plan, while Morocco seeks to redefine the key conditions of the process in its favour. Likewise, the absence of a mechanism for ensuring that the results of the referendum are implemented, referred to by Kofi Annan to justify his pessimism, should not be attributed to the parties, he added.(25.05.00, SPS).

25.05.00
Diplomacy
Costa Rica decided to accredit a Saharawi ambassador, the Minister for External Relations, Mr Roberto Rojas, announced in a communiqué after receiving Mr Omar Mansour, Saharawi Minister for Public Health. Costa Rica reaffirmed its support for the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people.

25.05.00
Trial
Brahim Laghzal (Brahim Ould Baba), Cheikh Khaya (Cheikh Abdelaziz Ould Abdallah Ould Ali), Laarbi Massoudi (Laärbi Ould Saïd Ould Boujemaa), imprisoned since December 1999 at Inezgane, near Agadir, were summoned, in an unexpected way, to appear before the Magistrates' Court in Agadir. Neither lawyers, nor families, nor the observers mandated by the FIDH were allowed to be present at this session, having not been informed. The Court will meet again on 30 May. The three Saharawis (dossier 510/2000) are accused of endangering the security of the State and are liable for a sentence of 1-5 years in prison.(
AARASD, ARSO, CDDH).

21-26.05.00
Morocco - Universities - demonstrations (continued)
Marrakech: the Magistrates' Court in Marrakech gave its verdict on 26 May concerning dossier No 5589/2000, on the troubles which occurred recently around the university (see
Week 20). 13 people were sentenced to 3 years imprisonment and 2 others to 3 months and 1 month in prison. One detainee was referred to another court for having burnt a State vehicle. It appears that 35 people have been arrested. 5 of the accused of Saharawi origin are on the run and sought by the police. Over 200 students (300 according to another source) appealed to the university management to demand the unconditional release of those sentenced and the end to violence and terror at the university. They announced that if this situation continues they will be forced not to present themselves for their exams and to abandon their studies.
The CDDH, the Moroccan Committee for the Defense of Human Rights, relayed the appeal to the Minister of the Interior, to the Director of National Security and the Governor of Marrakech.

Rabat: 10 people appeared on 23.05.00 before the judge, who postponed the session sine die. The son of a Saharawi parliamentarian (in the Moroccan parliament) is among these people. Parliamentarians of Saharawi origin tried without success to intercede with the Minister of the Interior on the students' behalf. Saharawi students from Rabat and Casablanca (160 according to Bayane al-Youm, a Moroccan daily) demonstrated in front of the court, demanding that their comrades be freed, or that they also be arrested. They were beaten by the police and took refuge in a court room (AFAPREDESA, CDDH).

25.05.00
Violation of the ease-fire
A Moroccan helicopter violated the cease-fire between Morocco and Polisario Front when it flew last Thursday over the zone located between "Um Aruessein and Agzumal" (liberated territories) (
SPS).

SOLIDARITY

Italy, Cosenza, Calabria, 26.05.00: on the occasion of the Festa dei popoli, a debate took place: The Saharawis a people in struggle, with the participation of Omar Mih and Suad Lagdaf from the Polisario Front and Umberto Romano, who outlined his latest book which depicts life in the occupied territories of the Sahara.

Spain: the solidarity of the population is continually evident and in a spectacular fashion. Here are some demonstrations which have been pointed out to us:
In the Balearic Islands a human chain brought together 1200 people on the occasion of a festival of solidarity. A manifesto was made public. It protests against the blocking of the peace plan and asked the Spanish government to intervene for the rapid holding of the referendum.
In Saragossa a manifesto along the same lines was signed by politicians, sporting personalities and intellectuals...
In Catalonia, 'Clowns without borders' launched a public action in which they meet every Tuesday at 8pm in front of the town hall of each town, to express their shame at Spain's abandonment of the Saharawi people; for one minute they hide their eyes with their hands. The movement is spreading and groups have taken up this action in other regions.

NEW ON INTERNET

Western Sahara online, the website of Khatry Beirouk, has a new URL: http://www.wsahara.net and a very attractive new presentation.

Pagina de la Asociacion A contrallum, Barcelona: http://www.lanzadera.com/acontrallum

Schweiz
Die Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker und das Schweizerische Unterstützungskomittee für die Sahraouis verlangen in einem Brief an den Vorsteher des Eidgenössischen Departement für auswärtige Angelegenheiten, Bundesrat J. Deiss, dass die Schweiz sich einsetze für den Frieden in der Westsahara und Druck auf Marokko ausübe, damit das UNO-referendum nicht noch weiter verzögert wird. Unterschriften werden gesammelt auf Seite:
http://www.gfbv.ch/aktuell/sahraouis.htm

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