WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

original french

WEEK 20

13.-19.05.2001

07.05.01
Human Rights
In a letter to the Prime Minister, the Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH) denounces the serious human rights abuses which have increased in recent times in Morocco. In particular the AMDH makes reference to the violent dispersion of the peaceful sit-in of the El Ayoun branch of the National Association of unemployed graduates, on 3 May, which resulted in serious injuries, the arrest of seven demonstrators and their appearance in court. It further quotes the ban on the demonstration on 1 May organised by the UMT in El Ayoun, because of the participation of Saharawis from the Truth and Justice Forum, Sahara section, who were brandishing photos of the disappeared and protesting at the impunity of their persecutors.
(AMDH)

12.05.01
Slovenia
The Youth Forum of the United List of the Social Democrats adopted at its congress a
resolution in favour of a referendum of self-determination in Western Sahara.(corr.)

13.05.01
Referendum
In an interview given to Al-Sharq al-Awsat, alongside the work of the Mediterranean Forum in Tangiers, the Algerian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Abdelaziz Belkhadem indicated that his country "supports the UN settlement plan which was agreed by the international community including Morocco". This plan, he made clear "is still valid and the Security Council resolutions support the settlement plan. Like other countries, we continue to adhere to this plan out of respect for international legitimacy. If there is an initiative now, we will express our opinion of it when we know its substance... ».
(SPS)

14.05.01
Referendum
Saharawi women, participating the the NGO Forum on less developed countries in Brussels from 10-20 May 2001, sent a letter to the United Nations Secretary General who was present in Brussels. They ask the UN to respect its commitments towards Western Sahara and to work sincerely for the implementation of the referendum negotiated between the two warring parties. They refuse any other alternative solution to the right to self-determination and to national independence. They affirm their determination as women to continue to defend their inalienable right whatever the price.The Belgian parliamentary intergroup "Peace for the Saharawi People", after having heard a representative of the Saharawi delegation, also sent a letter to Kofi Annan in  support of their action.

15.05.01
Polisario Front
The National Secretariat of the Polisario Front (SN), composed of 29 members, met in an ordinary session chaired by its general secretary, Mohamed Abdelaziz. He reaffirmed that the conflict in Western Sahara cannot be resolved without respecting the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination. He deplored the lack of firmness of the UN and the Security Council towards Morocco and called on MINURSO to resume as soon as possible the implementation of the settlement plan. He expressed "formally the total rejection without appeal of any attempt aiming to bypass the rights of the Saharawi people to self-determination and independence." He notes that the European Union, France in particular, are taking part in the subjugation of the Saharawi people by giving financial aid to Morocco and by plundering Saharawi resources, and asks them to contribute, by the total implementation of the UN settlement plan, to the bringing of a just peace to Western Sahara.
(SPS)

16.05.01
Sentences
The correctional court of Rabat sentenced 36 members of AMDH, Truth and Justice Forum, the Coordination Committee of Saharawi victims of forced abduction and arbitrary arrest and relatives of political detainees, etc to three months' imprisonment. These militants were placed in police custody when they were gathering to go to a sit-in in Rabat on 9 December 2000. The demonstration had been banned by the authorities. The accused, found guilty of "participation in the organisation of a prohibited demonstration and non-armed assembly on a public highway which could have threatened public order", were, in addition, each fined 3,000 dirhams (300 euros). They announced their intention to lodge an appeal.
In a statement, AMDH notes that this trial discloses once again the artificial nature of the official talk of the state of law and justice and the respect of human rights by the Moroccan state. It denounces these arbitrary sentences.
The Observatory for the Protection of Defenders of Human Rights, a joint programme of the FIDH and the OMCT, in a statement entitled "Morocco : new retreat", expresses its consternation at this condemnation "in flagrant contradiction with the international instruments for the protection of human rights to which Morocco is a party".
Amnesty International also condemns the judgement, declaring that freedom of expression remains seriously threatened in Morocco and that such a trial should never have taken place.  «Intimidating human rights defenders with jail sentences for exercising their right to freedom of expression is unacceptable» Amnesty International said. (AI Index:
MDE 29/006/2001)

16.05.01
Norway
Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) TV Redaksjon 21's weekly program for International Affairs showed a five- minute report from Western Sahara titled "Western Sahara: Africa's last colony". NRK showed recent footage from the Moroccan- occupied cities in Western Sahara and the Saharawi refugee camps in South West Algeria.
In an interview made with NRK TV on a recent visit to Norway, Polisario Front's coordinator with MINURSO, Mr. Emhamed Khadad said: "The UN is operating with double standards.The UN defended international legality in Namibia, [East] Timor and even in the Balkans but is not able to do so against Morocco, who constantly violate international legality and the settlement plan."
In response to a question about what Polisario would expect from Norway as a new member of the United Nations Security Council, Khadad stated: "We expect Norway to be an advocate for international legality and peace. In order to achieve lasting peace it is necessary to give the floor to the Saharawi people after 25 years, to allow them to return home and to vote freely to decide what they want to be."   
In a following studio commentary, a member of the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara, Mr. Ronny Hansen highlighted French support for the Moroccan obstruction of the settlement plan for Western Sahara: "The UN has finally identified the 86.300 eligible voters but Morocco is now openly refusing to accept the work of the UN and to respect the peace plan they have previously signed. Morocco would never be able to keep up the very costly occupation of Western Sahara without the active support of some central UN members, particularly France."
The whole program, in Norwegian, may be viewed with a free Real Player on NRK's website. Look for the link to the program on 16/05/01 under this link:
http://www3.nrk.no/kanal/nrk1/redaksjon_21/568825.html

19.05.01
About the "third way"
According to the Madrid daily El Pais of May 16, the Moroccan Prime Minister declared in Lisbon, that Morocco had presented to the United Nations a new proposal on Western Sahara. In the daily El Periodico of May 19, Antonio Baquero affirms that James Baker considers the project sufficiently important to be presented to the Polisario for negociation. According to the journalist, the Moroccan project provides a «substantial devolution of authority» during a 10 years transitory period, during which the implementation of a self-determination referendum would be studied. The administration of the territory would be commited to a «Council for Saharan affairs», composed of members of the Polisario Front and of Saharawis living for 25 years in the occupied territories. This institution would have at its disposal 20% of the phosphates and fisheries incomes, and would manage culture, social affairs and partly justice. Rabat would keep police, defense, foreign affairs and communications. Al Ousboua Assiasi, Moroccan weekly cited by Baquero, claims that the Polisario Front and Algeria are ready to engage in talks. Specialists of the question, consulted by the spanish journalist, consider it a tactical move. Morocco knows that the Polisario will refuse its proposal. So Rabat would have proposed a solution and the Polisario will appear as the one refusing a peaceful solution.
(El Pais, El Periodico)

SOLIDARITY

16.05.01, UK: A new 15 minute film "Rainbow Rovers 2001" was launched at Staffordshire University at Stoke on Trent in the presence of the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Christine King and members of the university. The university's Department of Film Studies is collecting an archive of films about Western Sahara. The film maker is working with the university's Institute of Genocide Studies and plans to travel with the next convoy in October 2001 to collect video testimony from former Saharawi disappeared. This is a memorial convoy in honour of the late Lord Winchelsea who started the Rainbow Rovers convoys to take humanitarian aid to the Saharawi refugee camps in 1989.
Copies of the video are available in UK, US and Euro VHS formats. Copies of a newspaper promoting the convoy are also available with details of how to take part or send donations. e-mail:
r.laybourne@cableinet.co.uk, Web: http://www.SATLTD.homestead.com

COMING UP...

20.06.01, Sydney, Australia, An Evening in the Sahara, at The Jubilee Room, NSW Parliament House, Macquarie Street, 6.00pm for 6.30pm, on invitation of The Honourable Janelle Saffin MLC, President of the New South Wales Parliamentary Amnesty Group. The night will include cocktails, surprises, and a rare exhibition and auction of photographs taken live at the Saharawi refugee camps. All monies raised will go to help the women and children whose rights continue to be violated in the Western Sahara. Special guest speaker will be Mr. Kamal Fadel, POLISARIO representative in Australia. He will be joined by: Honourable Justice John Dowd AO,* Senator Lyn Allison Democrat Senator for Victoria, Mr. David Raper, President of Amnesty International NSW Branch. Tickets - $45.00 Each (Please contact Tracy on the number below if concession is required)
RSVP - Tel: (02) 9230-3306 Tracy Weiss or Margherita Tracanelli by Tuesday June 5, 2001.
Media inquiries only: Margherita Tracanelli 0407-911 429

INTERNET

Colloque des Juristes sur le Sahara Occidental, Paris 28 avril 2001

Opinion

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