60 Saharawi officials, on a study programme in the Canaries, were received in the parliament by its president, Mr José Miguel Bravo. In his speech Mr Bravo pointed out that this visit is "additional proof of the collaboration and the sympathy that the archipeligo entertains with SADR". He also expressed his "concern" with the difficulties which are still hampering the implementation of the settlement plan. The Saharawi officials, who have been in the Canary Islands for four months, will finish their programmes of study at the end of March. This group is the second of its kind to stay in the Canaries in less than two years. (SPS)
Arab Maghreb Union
The 18th Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of UMA met in Algiers. The conference was preceded by a statement by the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs given to the daily "Ach-Charq Al-Awsat", in which he reaffirmed the impossibility of dissociating cooperation with the states of the Maghreb from the question of the Sahara, "which is an affair of territorial unity and of sovereignty of a member country of this union." This preliminary statement by Mr Benaïssa, who had himself represented at the meeting in Algiers, made any progress impossible, and the ministers present limited themselves to declarations of intention. (agencies).
UN Commission of Human Rights, 57th session
From the opening session, Morocco and Algeria were opposed in their positions concerning Western Sahara. The Moroccan Minister of Human Rights in his speech described the Saharawi refugees in the Tindouf camps as "Moroccans held against their will", which drew an immediate response from the Algerian Ambassador to the UN.
On point 5, several NGOs intervened on the right to self-determination:
- with written submissions from the Society for peoples in danger, from the American Association of Jurists and the Spanish Federation of Associations for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights, as well as the Liga Española Pro-Derechos Humanos.
-with interventions of this same Federation, of the NGOs International Educational Development, USA, Pax Romana and World Federation of Democratic Youth, the latter through the voice of Abba Salek Elhaissen, general secretary of the Union of Saharawi Lawyers. All the NGOs intervened to recall the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people and to denounce the obstacles to the process.
In the course of days at the University of Seville entitled "The Saharawi People, 25 years on", the Nobel prize winner in Literature, José Saramago expressed "his unconditional solidarity" with the Saharawi people, who risk being victims of a war due to "the complicity of the governments, the impotence of the UN and the indifference of public opinion in Spain". He asked the latter to become active so that the government would abandon its indifference towards the conflict. He reproached the King of Spain "for calling the King of Morocco cousin or brother", knowing that Moroccan policies constitute the principal obstacle to the resolution of the Moroccan-Saharawi conflict, adding that "if there are brothers that the Spanish could choose, I think that they are the Saharawis."
The Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs had talks with Hubert Védrine, French Foreign Minister. Mr Benaïssa came from New York, where he had met the UN Secretary General. According to Ach-Chark al-Awsat (Saudian) the question of Western Sahara should have been top of the agenda for these talks. Paris once again affirmed its attachment to "regional stability", believing that finding an acceptable solution to the problem of Western Sahara constitutes "an essential element for ensuring security and contributing to economic development".
The Mauritanian President received the personal envoy of the Saharawi President, Omar Mansour, Minister of Health, who conveyed to him a message from Mohamed Abdelaziz on the situation in the region and the latest developments on the question of Western Sahara. (agencies)
90 people, representatives of the autonomous government of the Canaries, of municipalities, of various institutions and journalists, arrived in the refugee camps to renew their solidarity with the Saharawis. (SPS).
Morocco - Human rights
Families of the disappeared and victims of forced disappearance in Morocco and Western Sahara started a hunger strike. About sixty people took part, including many mothers of the disappeared. During a meeting with a representative of the Forum Vérité et Justice, the Moroccan authorities affirmed that there were no longer any survivors. For the defenders of human rights, either the Moroccan authorities are continuing to treat the families of the disappeared with complete scorn, or the State is continuing to kill, torture and assassinate while looking after their image.
Morocco - Human Rights II
Two members or the Western Sahara section of the Human Rights defense organisation Forum Vérité et Justice, Noumri Brahim and Elhamed Mahmoud, have been arrested at the Casablanca airport while leaving for Geneva to assist to the 57th session of the UN Commission of Human Rights. The were released after sequetration of their passports and all documents. The inviting, Geneva based , Bureau Européen pour le Respect des Droits de l'Homme au Sahara Occidental, denounces in a communiqué this violation of freedom of movement and appeals for protests.
Sahara Press Service
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