WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

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WEEK 44

28.10.-03.11.2001

International campaign for the liberation of Mohamed Daddach and all political prisoners sentenced by Morocco

24.10.01
In a statement the Action Committee for the Liberation of Sidi Mohamed Daddach and all Saharawi political detainees announces that the authorities have refused to acknowledge its request for recognition. This committee was inaugurated on 9 September last in El Ayoun, it denounces the "illegal act" of the authorities, calls for the support of human rights organisations and decides to continue its activities. (Statement from the Action Committee for the liberation of Sidi Mohamed Daddach and all Saharawi political detainees, El Ayoun ,
french)

30.10.01
Nearly 200 Saharawi students from Agadir organised a peaceful march for the liberation of Mohamed Daddach in the arts faculty in Agadir.

The collection of signatures will continue until the end of the month. They will be handed to the Moroccan authorities in December. Sign the appeal on line ! or download and print out petition forms for the collection of signatures.

The updated list of the Saharawi political prisoners is now in HTML formate.

28.10.01
Resistance
To remember the anniversary of the Moroccan invasion of Western Sahara on 31 October 1975, tracts were distributed by night in El Ayoun, Smara and Goulimine. They denounce the colonial occupation and call for "the intensification of the struggle to expel the invader". (SPS)

29.10.-01.11.01
Visit of ad hoc delegation from the European Parliament to Western Sahara
The delegation, composed of 12 MEPs, was received on 29 October in Algiers by the President of the Senate and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the next day by the President of the Parliament. Mrs Lalumière,, leader of the delegation, explained to the media that the commission has as its aim to "investigate and inform itself on the question of Western Sahara (...) and to understand exactly what the situation is on the ground".  Mrs  Lalumière, indicated that the European Parliament is "extremely concerned to see that no solution attracts the consent of the parties concerned" in the peace process in Western Sahara. She added that the delegation was set up to "try to get  a clearer picture of the problem of Western Sahara  and the future of the Saharawi people".

Arriving on 30 October in the Saharawi refugee camps, the delegation was received by the Prime Minister, Bouchraya Beyoune, and had talks with officials of the Polisario Front and SADR. They visited three wilayas and talked with members of the National Council (Parliament), with the Consultative Council as well as with representatives of the community. They visited social and political institutions and were received by the President of the National Council and the Coordinator with Minurso.

Representatives of Saharawi civil society made a statement asking the European Union to put an end to "systematic blockages by Morocco, with the connivance of several international players", to the peace plan in Western Sahara. They also demanded that there should be an end to human rights abuses in the occupied zones of Western Sahara and to "the plunder of natural wealth and resources of the territory by the Moroccan occupier".

At the end of her interview with the Saharawi President, Mrs Lalumière stressed the necessity of respecting the will of the Saharawi people in the search for a peaceful solution to the conflict. She declared herself convinced that the solution "must certainly include a referendum", adding that "the situation cannot last", for "the status quo is very dangerous". She also emphasised that her delegation was leaving "with a will to use our influence as European parliamentarians so that the problem is not left without a solution." (SPS)

Back in Algiers, European deputy Catherine Lalumiere said in a meeting with the press: "The status quo cannot last forever. We have to find a solution to this conflict and resolve it correctly to avoid it degenerating,". That solution should be balanced and acceptable for the Polisario Front and Morocco, Lalumiere added. "It's difficult but not impossible," she stressed, adding that ending the long-running dispute in the region was in the interest of both Morocco and Algeria. (news24)

01.11.01
Saharawi parliament
The autumn parliamentary session opened in the presence of the delegation from the European Parliament. In his opening speech, the Saharawi President declared that an independent Saharawi state would be an element "creating stability" in the Maghreb region, while a solution based on the "denial" of the right of the Saharawi people would be doomed to "failure". The parliamentarians have to evaluate the work of the government team for the past year and adopt a programme for the year 2002. (SPS)

Spanish-Moroccan crisis
On 28 October, Morocco recalled its ambassador in Spain "for consultations" for an indeterminate period, on the pretext  that "certain Spanish attitudes and positions concern Morocco".
On 31, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Benaïssa declared before parliament that the decision of Morocco to recall its ambassador in Madrid is based on the Spanish position on illegal immigration and on the "fuzzy-minded and contradictory attitudes of Spain towards our national sacred cause (Western Sahara)".  He points out that "the position of Madrid coincides with the growth of hostile activities in the sphere of so-called campaigns of sympathy with the enemies of our territorial integrity, and who ended up organising in one of the Spanish regions  a trivial referendum on the subject of territorial integrity."
Benaïssa alluded to the referendum organised in 150 Andalusian municipalities, in which 125,000 people took part. In the parliament of Andalusia, of 394 people who voted, including the staff and journalists, 381 voted in favour of independence for Western Sahara, with 372 in favour of the accreditation of the Polisario Front in Spain. (
El Pais,

The position of Spain,in favour of the referendum and against the draft Framework-Agreement, during the work of the UN 4th Committee, is certainly at the origin of the Moroccan discontent. According to analyses appearing in the Spanish press, the French and American governments are supposedly supporting Morocco in this strategy of tension, which has already expressed itself through the oil contracts and the impromptu visit of the King to the Sahara, in order to make Madrid rally to the plan for autonomy.

29.10.01
Letter to the Security Council
Mohamed Abdelaziz informed the President of the Security Council that the actions undertaken by Morocco, "are creating extremely serious difficulties for the peace process". The Saharawi President mentioned the visit of Mohamed VI to Western Sahara, calling it a "gratuitous provocation", as well as the signing of contracts for oil exploration with an American and a French firm, considering it "an illegal act". The Saharawi President called for the Council to intervene urgently with Morocco in order to avoid a serious deterioration in the peace and stability of the region. (SPS)

29.10.01
Statement
The Saharawi Minister of Foreign Affairs in a statement expressed the view that the visit of Mohamed VI "constitutes an affront and a flagrant violation of United Nations resolutions appealing to the parties to the conflict to abstain from any action or initiative which could create obstacles to attempts to bring about a just and definitive solution to the conflict(...) This visit illustrates the lack of political will in Morocco and shows a bellicose escalation with dangerous consequences for peace and the stability of the region. It is above all a return to political inertia, which is the principle characteristic of the era of Mohamed VI." (
Statement of the SADR Minister of Foreign Affairs)

30.10.01
UN
The UN Secretary General received the personal envoy of the Saharawi President, Boukhari Ahmed, Polisario Front representative in New York, who presented him with a message from President Abdelaziz on the subject of contracts for oil prospecting in Western Sahara.  Boukhari made it clear that the Polisario Front was asking the UN to intervene to "cancel these contracts and to stop the visit of the King of Morocco to Western Sahara".(SPS)

01.-02.11.01
Visit of the King of Morocco to Western Sahara
This visit planned for Tuesday 30, finally took place on Thursday 1 November "for organisational reasons". The King went first to Dakhla, where he inspected the new port and opened several projects for road network improvement, housing, drinking water and electricity projects. In the afternoon he went to El Ayoun where he again inaugurated several socio-economic projects. The whole visit  took place under tight security measures. Foreign journalists were not authorised to make contact with the local population. The El Mundo journalist, Javier Espinosa, was expelled from El Ayoun on Monday 30, the other representatives of the Spanish media, were forbidden access to Western Sahara. In solidarity, AFP and AP decided to refrain from covering the king's visit to occupied Sahara. The Spanish government protested at the Moroccan attitude as well as RSF. The ban was lifted on 31.
During their presence in El Ayoun for the cover of the King's visit, the spanish journalists Javier Espinosa (
El Mundo ) and Tomas Barbulo (El Pais) had an encounter in hiding with members of the Human Rights organisations Forum Vérité et Justice Section Sahara and the Comité d'action pour la libération de Mohamed Daddach. They have been reported that most of the people who acclaimed the king in the streets were Moroccans; people who work as civil servants were forced to be present as well as the poor who survive on government aid. The Saharawi opponents explained that in El Ayoun now there are hardly 20 thousands Saharawi. Protests are impossible because of the police terror. The hard passed sufferings, torture, disappearance, imprisonment, have broken the spirit of resistance. "Our only hope is the Polisario", the participants, most of them former political prisoners or disapeared, told the journalists.

02.11.01
Demonstrations
In Smara, the day before the visit of Mohamed VI, cancelled because of "unfavorable weather conditions for traffic", the police tried to disperse a sit-in by force which had been going on for three days to express discontent and to protest about the King's visit. In a statement, the SADR Minister of Information announced that several people including  Khdeija Mint Ahmed Boumrah, Sdigua Mint Mohamed Saleh and Sidati Ould Youcef, have suffered serious injuries. Labeid Mahfoud, a Saharawi citizen, had been savagely tortured and imprisoned. A second statement dated 3 November, indicates that "the forces of the Moroccan army of occupation, the police and special services continue to patrol the principal quarters of the town." (
Statements from the SADR Ministry of Information, french, Spanish press)

COMING UP...

Danielle Mitterrand, President of the Fondation France Libertés will travel to Algeria from 5th to 10th November 2001, so as to express her support to the Saharawi population living in exile since 1975.
The purpose of this journey is to evaluate the contribution of France Libertés to the educational, health, and development projects that are run with the Saharawi refugees. At a political level, this visit wants to re-assert the obligation of the international community to implement the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people whether colonised or in exile, and consequently to prevent the spoliation of this people from the natural resources of its territory.
Danielle Mitterrand will also travel to Morocco and Occupied Western Sahara from 12th to 19th November 2001. She will meet with the Moroccan partners of France Libertés working in areas of development such as education, and Human Rights, more particularly in relation with forced disappearances. Mrs Mitterrand will complete her journey in Laayoune, capital of Western Sahara, and will express her solidarity and support of the Saharawis whose expression is treated as a minority and suppressed by the occupying Moroccan authorities.

SOLIDARITY

05-09.12.01, Charter flight "Catalunya amb el sahara " desembre del 2001
The Associació Catalana d'Amics del Poble Sahrauí organizes a charter flight to Tindouf from 5 to 9 of December. Info: ACAPS Vilanova i la Geltrú, Rbla. Samà, 58, 4t, 2ª, 08800 Vilanova i la Geltrú, tels. 649 82 51 60, 610 65 69 65, fax 93 814 37 76, e-mail:
afont@pie.xtec.es

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