The 90 young Saharawis threated with deportation to Morocco are pursuing their action. 80% of them are married. They succeeded, despite the efforts of the police to prevent them, to unfurl a large banner with slogans against Morocco's colonialist policy.
The national association of solidarity with the Saharawi people (ANSPS) held its annual general meeting in Bologna. The meeting was opened by Mohamed Sidati, Polisario Front representative in Europe, whose report gave rise to a lively debate. The meeting determined its future activities in the light of the work of the recent European conference. A new national executive of 22 members was elected and Luciano Ardesi confirmed as president.
On the occasion of the official visit of the Moroccan Prime Minister, Abderrahman Youssoufi, the deputy spokesman for foreign affairs for the socialist section in the parliament, Dr Eberhard Brecht, stated that "the federal government should take advantage of this occasion to make its Moroccan guest aware that only the strict respect of the United Nations peace plan can lead to a just and durable solution to the conflict in Western Sahara." For his part, the leader of the Labour group "international politics" of the parliamentary section of the PDS, Heidi Lippmann, believes that "the future of the territory of Western Sahara, illegally annexed by Morocco, should be one of the principle subjects of discussion between the federal government and the Moroccan Prime Minister. The federal government should make it clearly understood that it holds to the United Nations peace plan and rejects the Moroccan policy aimed at preventing it by constant postponements of the referendum on the future of Western Sahara".
The delegation from the National Union of Saharawi Women on a visit to Cuba signed a cooperation agreement with the Federation of Cuban Women, before leaving Cuba for Nicaragua. There they made contact with members of parliament and several organisations defending women's rights. From 7-14 December the delegation stayed in Panama, where they met representatiaves of the executive and legislative authorities as well as NGOs. Hector Aleman, president of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Panamanian parliament, and Khira Boulahi, Saharawi parliamentarian, signed a document creating a Panamanian-Saharawi interparliamentary friendship group, whose aim is to promote solidarity between the two parliaments.
Several caravans of humanitarian aid have left Spain for the refugee camps, laden with large quantities of various supplies. The Association of Friends of the Sahara from Asturias organised its second caravan for the year, comprising four vehicles, which met in Alicante with the 50 vehicles coming from Castilla-La Mancha.
Breaking the cease-fire
In a letter to the United Nations Secretary-General, the Saharawi President protested against the recent laying of thousands of anti-personnel land mines by Morocco on the approaches to the defensive wall. Mohamed Abdelaziz appealed to the UN to condemn these violations of the cease-fire and to stop Morocco throwing itself into a "dangerous escalation" at a "precarious" moment for peace in Western Sahara. (SPS)
The Republic of Vanuatu, which recognised SADR in 1980, has, according to Moroccan media, withdrawn its recognition until the referendum.
Over 2200 people, coming from Spain and Italy, have been staying for four days in the Saharawi refugee camps as a sign of solidarity. Twelve autonomous Spanish provinces are represented among the ten charter flights which have arrived since 2 December. Among the political personalities present, are the vice-president of the autonomous government of Extremadura, the president of the parliament of Navarra and mayors and their deputies. Twinning arrangements have been sent up between the province of Malaga and the wilaya of Ausserd, the town council of Redondela and the daïra of Dcheira, as well as between Andalusia and Aïn el Beïda. (SPS)
On the occasion of the commemoration of the 52nd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH) organised a demonstration in front of the parliament in Rabat which was joined by 13 members of the "Comité de coordination des victimes sahraouies de la disparition forcée", ccdfs. The AMDH was asking for the truth about abductions, illegal arrests and acts of torture as well as demanding the pursuit of those responsible. This demonstration had been forbidden and was violently dispersed. Some participants were beaten up. 42 people were arrested, among them several Saharawi defenders of human rights. The Procurer of the King dropped charges against six of those apprehended. 36 people appeared on the 11th in the Magistrates' Court. There was no case for pressing charges in two cases, the trial for the others was postponed until 28 February. Numerous organisations protested against these arrests and sentences.
Release of prisoners of war
The Polisario Front liberated 201 Moroccan prisoners of war in "a humanitarian gesture" on the occasion of the sacred month of Ramadan. The Moroccan soldiers aged between 31 and 75 and captured between 1975 and 1989, were handed over at the military school "Chahid Ami" to the ICRC, represented by its president Jakob Kellenberger. During the ceremony the Polisario Front declared that the exchange of prisoners of war with Morocco is provided for in the peace plan during the transitional period, which precedes the holding of the referendum. They recalled having freed up until now over 800 prisoners and regretted that the 150 Saharawi prisoners of war and 207 political prisoners in Morocco do not benefit from a reciprocal deal (like the particularly tragic case of Mohamed Daddach). The liberated prisoners were taken by a special plane to the military base of Inzegane near Agadir.(communiqué Saharawi Ministry of Information, SPS, ICRC)
In a communiqué from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Morocco demanded "the total, immediate and unconditional liberation of the 1481 disappeared persons", corresponding to the balance of Moroccan prisoners in the hands of the Polisario Front.
Basque Country: On the occasion of the visit to the Basque country by the Saharawi minister of culture, Mariam Salek H´amada, the Basque Association of friends of SADR organised public demonstrations as well as meetings with the representatives of the regional and local authorities and with the media.
15.12.00: Catalonia, Prix Horta-Guinardo 2000: the jury gave the prize for cooperation and solidarity to ACAPS, the Catalan Association of Friends of the Saharawi people and its work in raising awareness of the situation of this people.
El Diario "EL Mundo" ha iniciado el día 16 de diciembre, un especial sobre el Marathón del Sáhara que se actualizará periódicamente: http://www.elmundo.es/saharamarathon/index.html
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