WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

original french

WEEK 47

18. - 24.11.2001

09-11.11.01
Congress
The congress of the International Union of Socialist Youth, meeting in  Johannesburg adopted a resolution demanding that Morocco should put an end to its occupation of Western Sahara and to human rights abuses, as well as allowing  the referendum to be held without delay.
Abraham Serfaty, in a statement, pointed out that he did not renounce his position on Western Sahara expressed during his trial in 1977 and that he had never adhered to Moroccan chauvinism. He made an appeal to young people, both Saharawi and Moroccan, to start a dialogue under the auspices of the IUSY. The officer responsible for external relations in UJSARIO immediately declared himself ready to talk. He also asked Serfaty, who is working for the Moroccan Office of Oil Exploration to denounce the illegal exploitation of the Saharawi sub-soil. (SPS)

10-16.11.01 (see week 46)
56e session of the UN General Assembly
Among the interventions we have to add those of Tanzania: "With regard to Western Sahara, Tanzania reiterates her long held position that this is a question of colonialism and the Saharawi people have a right to decide on their future through a referendum as stipulated in the relevant Security Council resolutions. We fear abandoning that path may lead to untoward events" and Lesotho: "We are however saddened by lack of progress in the implementation of agreements related to the settlement, once and for all, of some of the oldest running conflicts in both Angola and the Sahara Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). We in Lesotho are convinced that the Houston Accord on SADR remains the foundation stone for self-determination of Sahara".
A Saharawi delegation led by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, had numerous meetings with the heads of delegations taking part in the session. The Security Council will examine the Saharawi question on the 26th of this month.

15.11.01
Europe
The Canarian MEP Isidoro Sánchez proposed that the EU Council should examine the UN proposals regarding Western Sahara at its mid-December meeting in Laeken, in Belgium.

15.11.01
Dakar rally
The leftist Spanish party Izquierda Unida criticized the financial support to the Paris- Dakar rally given by the municipality of Madrid, stop-over place in the next rally.

16.11.01
Human rights
Laroussi Mohamed, Laroussi Bachir and Tounsi Bachir Brahim, three of the recently liberated political prinoners, had been forced to write a thank-you letter to King Mohammed VI on the occasion of their release.

17.11.01
Smara
Violent confrontations took place as the police forces broke up a sit-in taking place in front of the regional administration office. Dozens of people were injured, some seriously, about 60 demonstrators were arrested of whom 16 were transferred to El Ayoun to be referred to the court accused of destruction of public property, attacks on agents of the authority and theft. During searches many houses in the  Cité Tan Tan de Smara were ransacked, their occupants beaten. The Moroccan forces of order even invaded a mosque where children had taken refuge.
Numerous oppressive demands made by extortion have been reported. (BERDHSO statement
french, AFAPREDESA statement (Spanish)
The protest movement has been going on in Smara for several weeks, starting from social demands (respecting promises made concerning employment) it spread to human rights (petitions for the political prisoners) and took on independentist colours. Recently the visit of the King to the holy town of the Sahara had to be cancelled for this reason.

18.11.01: Mohamed Abdelaziz, sent an urgent message to the president of the Security Council, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his special envoy James Baker, in which he informed them about the repugnant acts perpetrated by the Moroccan occupation forces against the Saharan people, including women, children, the elderly and defenceless youth. Moreover, he called on the Security Council president, the UN secretary-general and his special envoy to intervene urgently and effectively to protect the Saharan people.

19.11.01: In a communiqué Mohamed Sidati, minister delegate for Europe denounced with strongest indignation the brutalities of unprecedented magnitude perpetrated by Moroccan security forces, particularly against women, children, elderly people which were beaten up. He deplored the passivity of the MINURSO in front of the exactions committed against the Saharawi civil population  asking the European Union and its institutions to use all their influence in order to bring Morocco to put an end to these exactions.engl.

19.11.01: Saharawi student from the universities of Rabat and Casablanca condemn in a communiqué the police's brutality and all the forms of terrorism practised by the Moroccan state against Saharawi citizens, such as: " extra-judicial executions, arbitrary detentions, draconian restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly, and the destruction of privatye property. They express particularly their moral support and solidarity with their compatriots in Smara and state their readiness to resort to all ways and means to thwart these systematic acts of terrorism.engl.

Other protest statements:
-
Press statement from the EP intergroup "Peace for the Saharawi People"
- Comunicato stampa: Fermare la repressione contro il popolo sharawi de L'Associazione nazionale di solidarietà con il popolo sahrawi (ANSPS), Roma. (
italiano)
- Communiqué le l'AARASD, France. (
français)

21.11.01
Morocco
The agitation in the occupied territories, which includes social demands, campaigns for human rights and aspirations of Saharawi identity - and the recent repressive reactions (Smara etc) provoked lively reactions in political circles in Morocco. The Truth and Justice Forum (Sahara Section) is accused of being responsible for the troubles and the uprising in Smara, its contact with Danielle Mitterrand is criticised. The PPS (Party of Progress and Socialism), in a statement, affirms that certain statements made when Mohamed Daddach and the other prisoners were liberated are close to "separatist" claims, evoking "the combat of Saharawi masses of resistence" and mentioning only "Western Sahara" without allusion to its "Moroccan character". The Secetary General of the PPS adds that the Forum for Truth and Justice (Sahara) refers to conventions in the field of human rights and international humanitarian law which make it understood that the Sahara is occupied by a foreign power. These pressures on the Saharawi human rights movement are intensifying, the parliament may even be questioned shortly.

21.11.01

In a letter addressed to the Moroccan Minister of the Interior, Driss Jettou, Reporters without borders (RSF) protested against the arrest and the maltreatment of Nourredine Darif, correspondent in Smara in the Western Sahara, of the weekly magazine Al Amal Addimocrati.  The journalist is currently in the civil prison of El Aïoun, charged by the public prosecutors´s office with "collusion with a foreign party". He is not allowed to receive visitors. Shortly after its arrest his house was ransacked by the police.
The Sahara section of OADP, a party participating to the governemental coalition, protests against the arrest of its member Nourredine Darif and announces it suspends its activities until conditions are better.

22.11.01
Goulimine, South of Morocco
A peaceful demonstration organised by hundreds of Saharawis, calling for the respect of their most basic rights : employment and the end to repression and arbitrary justice, was violently repressed. At least 17 people were imprisoned and tortured according to a statement (
french) from the SADR Ministry of Information.

Spain - Campaign in favour of the referendum

17. -21.11.01
Spanish opposition parties and more than two-hundred associations demand the holding of the referendum in Western Sahara Representatives from all the Spanish parliamentary groups, with the exception of the PP [Partido Popular, in power], and spokepersons of more than 200 associations of solidarity and friendship with the Saharawi people met in the Congress to deliver more than 300,000 signatures collected during the last two months in favor of the self-determination referendum in the former Spanish colony, Western Sahara. The signers asked the Government to get in an unequivocal way involved in the process of decolonization of Western Sahara, to intervene to the European Union in favor of the referendum and the respect of human rights in Western Sahara, to grant humanitarian aid to the refugees and a diplomatic status to the Polisario representation to Spain.

22.11.01
Oil
The Spanish government will study the question of oil concessions situated in Western Sahara and ceded recently by Morocco to foreign companies, the Minister of Foreign Affairs announced in response to a question by a member of parliament from the Canary Islands. It is the extent of these concessions to practically  the whole territory of Western Sahara, it would appear, and the reserved attitude of the US Ambassador in Rabat which set this initiative off.

23.11.01
Declaration of Mohamed Abdelaziz
Saharan President Mohamed Abdelaziz proposed in Madrid to hold a meeting with the Moroccan monarch, King Mohammed VI, in a neutral country to examine the conflict in Western Sahara. During a news conference in Madrid, Spain, the Saharan president expressed the Saharan side's readiness to cooperate in order to find a peaceful solution. He warned Rabat of the consequences of continuing its obstruction of the self-determination referendum in Western Sahara. (ABC)

23.11.01
27th European Conference of Support to the Saharawi People
The annual meeting of solidarity opened in Seville in the presence of over 400 participants of all the continents, including in particular President Abdelaziz, Rigoberta Menchu, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Danielle Mitterrand, president of the Fondation France Libertés, a delegation from the OAU and the European parliamentary intergroup. The organisers of the conference facing the threat of the abandonment of the UN/OAU peace plan want to reaffirm the necessity of organising the referendum on self-determination as quickly as possible, in fair and democratic conditions, as the only way to avoid a renewal of hostilities and to ensure respect for the fundamental rights of the people of the region.
For 2 days the delegates worked in small groups to develop a plan of action on both political and humanitarian levels.

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