WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

original french

WEEKS 42 + 43

14.-27.10.2001

International campaign for the liberation of Mohamed Daddach and all Saharawi political prisoners condemned by Moroccan courts

12.10.01: Letter
In an open letter, the longest standing Saharawi political prisoner sets out his demands: his liberation and that of all Saharawi detainees, as well as the truth on the fate of disappeared Saharawis. He welcomes and supports the initiatives and actions undertaken by the Truth and Justice Forum (Sahara Section), by the recently created action committee for the liberation of Saharawi political detainees, as well the students of El Ayoun who held a demonstration for the same objectives. He recalls that he will continue to increase the length of his hunger strikes until his claims are met. He ends his letter by addressing the UN Secretary General and his personal envoy, James Baker and "begs them to do everything to put the UN peace plan into effect immediately and unequivocally by organising the referendum of self-determination which is the just and lasting solution to this conflict." (
full text engl) (BERDHSO)

The List of Saharawi political prisoners has been updated by BERDHSO, can be downloaded in word formate (5.4 MB)

Hunger strikes reported at the prison of Marrakech: 18 and 19 October Salek Mahmoud Bahaha et Najem Leghzal. 23 octobre: Khaya Cheikh and El Arbi Messoud. 25 octobre: nine students imprisoned since May 2000 for taking part in demonstrations at the University City of Marrakech. 30 October: 11 detainees arrested in September 1999 during the intifada of El Ayoun.(SPS)

12.10.01: Intimidations
The president of the Truth and Justice Forum, Sahara Section (FVJSS), Moutik Lahsen, and its secretary general, Mohamed Salem Mayara, were summoned by the judicial police of El Ayoun. It was the organisation of the the commemoration of the second anniversary of the uprising of El Ayoun in 1999 which was behind this measure. (SPS)

The international campaign for the liberation of Saharawi political prisoners continues:
Sign the appeal on line (
english, french, italian, spanish, german)
or download and print out petition forms for the collection of signatures (
english, french, italian, spanish, german ).

MANIFESTATIONS

Assrir (Southern Morocco): Eight Saharawi citizens were questioned on 14 October by the police following the demonstration of 4 October last (week 41). They are Fatma Haboub El Maati, Mohamed Salem El Maati, Ahmed El Maati, El Bachir Mohamed Bouchalga, M'Barek Belaid Bouhaik, Azziz Mohamed Salem Hsseina, Ali Mahmoud Ebhaya and Bachir Jiid Bachir, who are still in prison. The inhabitants of the town continue to call for the immediate liberation of Saharawi political prisoners in Moroccan prisons. 16 Saharawi citizens were interrogated on 23 October by the RoyalGendarmerie, claiming they were the instigators of what the authorities have termed "civil disobedience".

In Smara (WS), several signatories of the petition calling for the liberation of all Saharawi political prisoners in Morocco were summoned by the police. Dozens of people are summoned daily to gendarmerie stations to be interrogated. The authors of the petition reaffirmed in a statement their demands and called for a stop to immigration of Moroccan settlers.

 In Dakhla (WS), hundreds of people gathered on 20 and 22 October in front of the administrative offices of the town to denounce the policy of Moroccan colonial occupation as well as calling for the liberation of Saharawi political detainees in Morocco, a stop to immigration by Moroccan settlers, and for work and housing.(SPS)

REFERENDUM

12.10.01: In a speech given on the occasion of the celebration of the 26th anniversary of National Saharawi Unity, the president, Mohamed Abdelaziz repeated that the framework-agreement is a "plot" identical to that of the tripartite Madrid accords of 1975, reaffirming his "rejection" of this proposal and calling for the respect of international law. (SPS)

16.10.01: The 4th UN Commission adopted by consensus a draft resolution for the General Assembly. It stressed the importance attached to the "complete, equitable and scrupulous implementation of the settlement plan and related agreements concerning its implementation." (UN news)
 The Saharawi minister of Foreign Affairs declared himself satisfied with the debate, adding that the proposed Moroccan Framework-Agreement "has just been rejected by the entire international community". (SPS) (full text of interventions )

Referendum in Andalusia

On 19, 20 and 21 October in many towns of Andalusia a referendum took place on the Sahara. By this symbolic act, people were called to show their support of the struggle of the Saharawi people for independence and to ask of the Spanish government firmer commitment to a rapid decolonisation of Western Sahara. The two questions asked were about the commitment of the Spanish and Andalusian governments to a rapid implementation of the peace plan and to the referendum of self-determination and the official recognition of the Polisario Front as the legitimate representative of the Saharawi people. Very bad weather impeded the voting operation, which was replaced in some places by collection of signatures. The results, still provisional, show 125,000 voters giving massive approval to the two questions. An identical consultation was organised on 25.10.01 in the Autonomous Parliament of Andalusia. Altogether nearly 150,000 signatures of support were collected.

SADR - SOUTH AFRICA

The visit from 17.- 19.10.01 of the Algerian President, Bouteflika to South Africa was the occasion of declarations on the subject of Western Sahara. During a banquet in honour of the Algerian President, Thabo Mbeki declared : «Both our countries are committed to the resolution of the Western Sahara as expressed in the United Nations Security Council's settlement plan. I hope we will once and for all finalize this long outstanding matter.»
Bouteflika, in his reponse, made clear that: "It will certainly be the duty of the United Nations Organization to remain faithful to its principles and its commitments, but the rest of the world community, and in particular all the African countries, should do all they can in order to impose the triumph of the wisdom and the implementation of the settlement plan already adopted by the UN] Security Council". (SAPA)

In this context the South African President also declared that his country enjoys excellent relations with SADR and its president, Mohamed Abdelaziz, and that official recognition of SADR has practically been gained. (SPS)

OIL

19.10.01: Following the example of Kerr-MC Gee (USA) (see week 40 ), the French company, TotalFinaElf signed a contract in Rabat for oil exploration with ONAREP -the (Moroccan) National Office of Research and Exploitation of Oil. This contract concerns the offshore zone near Dakhla, with an area of 114,556 km2 and lasts one year. (communiqué TotalFinaElf)

21.10.01: The Saharawi Minister of Foreign Affairs called the contract "sabotage" of the efforts of the international community trying to settle the conflict of Western Sahara and sees in it "sheer aggression against the Saharawi people, clear support for Moroccan colonialism and flagrant violation of international law."

President Abdelaziz asked the UN Secretary General to intervene to cancel the contracts concerning the occupied territories. He called these acts "provocations". The Saharawi president finally warned that the Polisario Front will not stand by with its hands in its pockets, nor will it resign itself to accepting this new Moroccan procedure which implicates foreign interests in a territory where the UN is present for a mission of decolonisation.

The Saharawi President had already written a letter dated 17.10.01, to President Bush to ask him to put an end to oil prospecting by the American company Kerr-McGee, "in the hope of avoiding an uncontrollable skid for the region". This transaction, he explained, prolongs a "situation of injustice" towards "a peaceful people who have placed high hopes in the role that the USA could play in bringing a lasting peace to Western Sahara." (SPS)

Letters of protest to Kerr-McGee and Kofi Annan from the Western Sahara Alliance (Australia) were joined by letters from the Australian parliamentarian Janelle Saffin (MLC), and from Paul Reid, in the name of the Australian Western Sahara Association,, as well as statements from the Section Française de l'Observatoire International du Référendum au Sahara Occidental and the Association des Amis de la RASD, France and the Western Sahara Campaign UK.

SADR - ITALY

23.10.01
An Italian delegation comprising the head of government of the Tuscany region, Mr Claudio Martini, along with two parliamentarians and several officers from the region, visited three of the Saharawi wilayas and had talks with several Saharawi political officials. Received by the President, Mohamed Abdelaziz, Mr Martini stressed that he would work within his government, and also at the level of his country and of the European community to "permit the Saharawi people freely to exercise their right to self-determination."

Another Italian delegation, led by the Mayor of Lastra a Signa, Tuscany, undertook a horse-ride of solidarity, taking four days to complete the 175 kilometer journey from El Ayoun camp to Dakhla camp.

Meanwhile the National Association of Italian Communes (ANCI), which brings together over 8000 communes, at their annual meeting proposed the Saharawi people as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize, for having abstained from recourse to terrorism during the 26 years of their struggle for national liberation. (SPS)

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

Delegation
In accordance with the resolution adopted in March 2000, a delegation from the European Parliament (EP) will go to Algiers, the Saharawi camps and to Rabat and occupied Western Sahara starting on 28 October. It will consist of 14 MEPs, four Spanish, seven French, one Italian and one Swedish, under the leadership of Mrs Catherine Lalumière, ( European socialist party, France), Vice-President of the Committee of Foreign Affairs and Human Rights.

25.10.01
Report
The annual report of foreign policy of the EU was adopted. On the initiative of Margot Kessler, President of the Intergroup "Peace for the Saharawi people" and other MEPs, the report "insists at paragraph 31, that the EU cooperate actively in a solution for the conflict of Western Sahara, in accordance with the UN resolutions and in line with its resolution of March 2000, and of what is said in the Declaration of the German presidency of the Council of June 1999."

IN BRIEF

13.10.01: Terrorism
Osama Ben Laden allegedly stayed in Morocco for three months. It was reported in the daily El Khabar, referring to a Moroccan newspaper, Asdaa. Ben Laden visited Morocco accompanied with a group of forty "Arab Afghans." According to the Moroccan daily, Osama Ben Laden was persona non grata in the kingdom, but the authorities did nothing to prevent him from entering the country. He had to leave Morocco because he was unable to obtain legal residency there. Ben Laden's main mission in the Moroccan territory was to furnish and help Algerian terrorist groups. (
WSO)

17.10.01: Norwegian NGO Forum for Human Rights.
In a
letter to the Norwegian Foreign Minister Mr. Torbjørn Jagland on 1 October, 16 Norwegian human rights organisations have made recommendations on priorities for the 56th Session of the UN General Assembly concerning Western Sahara.

17.10.01: Libya
Colonel Mouamar Khadafi indicated during an official reception for the 350 women Saharawi students in Libya that his country is involved in the defence of the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination. Around 700 Saharawi students altogether are studying at different levels in Libya.(SPS)

18.10.01: SADR
A campaign of agricultural work to plant 12 hectares of vegetables took place in the wilaya of Dakhla. This project, financed by the autonomous government of Extremadura , is using the technique drip irrigation. (SPS)

18.10.01: Spain
The Spanish league for the defence of human rights LEPDDHH officially asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs to grant Saharawis Spanish and Saharawi dual nationality automatically. It bases its request on a decision of the Spanish high court which granted dual nationality to the present Saharawi representative in Murcia, Badadi Amr. ( EUROPA PRESS)

SOLIDARITY

20.10.01, Gasteiz, Pais Vasco: caravana de solidaridad. La Asociación de Amigos de la RASD de Araba ha participado con la siguiente aportación:

  1. 10 Camiones adaptados para el desierto y para uso de transporte público. La financiación de la compra ha sido asumida por la Dirección de Cooperación del Gobierno Vasco, las mejoras y adaptaciones técnicas han sido realizadas por voluntarios y amigos de la Asociación.
  2. Equipamiento completo para el centro profesional Gazuani( Tindouf) que cuenta con el financiamiento del Ayuntamiento de Gasteiz, Ayuntamiento de Getxo , Gobierno Vasco. Con este equipamiento se dotarán los talleres de carpintería, mecánica y electricidad. Este proyecto cuenta con la colaboración del instituto universitario HEGOA.
  3. Cuatro de los camiones irán repletos de material sanitario para el hospital de la wilaya de Ausserd(Tindouf) que ha sido financiado por los trabajadores 0,7 del hospital de Txagorritxu y el Ayuntamiento de Gasteiz.
  4. Repuestos, ruedas y baterías para las ambulancias vehículos de transporte financiados por el Ayuntamiento de Gasteiz y el Ayuntamiento de Leioa.
  5. Depuradora de Aguas financiado por AMVISA.
  6. Finalmente queremos significar y agradecer el apoyo de personal vinculado al cuerpo de bomberos, chóferes de Tuvisa, Amvisa, trabajadores de los hospitales de Txagorritxu y Santiago. Teléfonos de contacto: 945 147853- 629866250

Bilbao, 24.10.01: espectáculo de cantos y danzas saharauis

La Regione Toscana ha posto la questione saharawi tra le sue priorità. E stato deciso di presentare, come unico progetto regionale, un intervento nella scuola "12 Ottobre" nei campi profughi saharawi. Il progetto prevede il finanziamento di 100 milioni da parte della Regione Toscana (in 2 annualità) e il coofinanziamento dei restanti 50 milioni (15 sono messi dalla prov. di Pisa). Inf. tel. 3356913221 o mail casiele@tin.it. Associazione "Ban Slout Larbi"

Firenze, Italia, 24.10.01: Galleria Immagine Dea presenta: "La Cultura per la Libertà dei Popoli": Saharawi un popolo in esilio, incontro con lo scrittore Umberto Romano. Projezzione del filmato sul Sahara Occidentale di Silvana Grippi.

Levane, Italia, 26.10.01, Organizzata da l'Associazione culturale Prometeo in collaborazione con il commune di Bucine e con l'Associazione valdarnese di solidarieta con il popolo saharawi: una giornata per la raccolta di fondi per il popolo saharawi. Programma: Mostra fotografica et di oggettistica del popolo saharawi, Kous Kous, piano bar, proiezione video, musica, ballo, karaoke ...

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