06. - 12.01.2002
The World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY) appealed to the Secretary General of United Nations Mr. Kofi Annan to take concrete steps for holding a free and fair referendum in Western Sahara and fully implementation of the resolution of UN in its letter and spirit.
Mohamed Abdelaziz took part in festivities for the 90th anniversary of the ANC in Durban. The Saharawi delegation was received by the South African President Thabo M'Beki. (SPS)
In a report on the demonstrations which happened in Smara around the visit of the King of Morocco, the Moroccan Organisation for the defence of Human Rights (OMDH) noticed that it was the provocations of the forces of order, in the presence of local and regional officials which were "the direct cause the demonstrations". According to OMDH the depredations were caused by "a group of about nine people who took advantage of the crowd to carry out their reprehensible deed... They were hidden at the time of the incidents and have not been arrested". (Libération, Moroccan daily quoted by the Review of the press by the French Embassy in Rabat.)
In fact 14 people were arrested on that occasion and are in El Ayoun prison awaiting sentence. (Week 47/2001)
Morocco - POWs
In a letter sent to the president of the Security Council, Morocco "demands the liberation and repatriation, without delay, of all Moroccan detainees in Algeria."
Until only recently the Moroccan prisoners of war were a taboo subject in Morocco. "For a long time, to bring up the fate of these men who had been taken captive in the exercise of their duties as soldiers in defence of their country, was tantamount to sacrilege." (Maroc-Hebdo International Nr 493) It should be mentioned that 200 of them had been liberated unilaterally in 1989 by the Polisario Front, and that they had to wait six years for Morocco to agree, under international pressure, to repatriate them. 85 prisoners released during the visit of James Baker to the refugee camps in April 1997 waited three years before being accepted back by their homeland in February 2000. The Polisario Front has liberated 434 more prisoners of war on various other occasions in recent years.
The current Peace Plan accepted by the parties provides for the liberation of prisoners of war once the identification process is completed. Because of the delay in the process due to Moroccan obstructions, the ICRC in 2000 called on the parties to settle this problem independently of the political aspects on a strictly humanitarian level. ( International Committee of Red Cross ICRC: Activities in Western Sahara/Morocco )
The 115 Moroccan prisoners of war released on 2 January by the PolisarioFront will be repatriated to Morocco on 17 January by the International Red Cross (ICRC). (agency)
Interim Report of the UN Secretary General
Kofi Annan welcomes positive developments represented by the liberation of 115 Moroccan prisoners of war by the Polisario Front and the problem-free passage of the Total-Dakar rally through Saharawi territory. He raises the serious humanitarian problem of the remaining prisoners. His full report will be presented prior to 28 February, the deadline of MINURSO's mandate.
Hunger Strike in El Ayoun prison
The protest movement of Saharawi prisoners in El Ayoun prison continues despite threats and pressure by the administrative and prison authorities and contrary to official denials. (Week 01/2002)
According to correspondents on the ground over 90 detainees are still on hunger strike. About 40 of them have stopped their action because of deterioration in their state of health or from fear of threats. Three detainees are thought to have been transferred to Morocco. The prison administration has taken some measures to improve the conditions of overcrowding and lack of hygiene in the prison. About a hundred Moroccan prisoners are believed to have been transported by military aircraft to Morocco to make more space. The rooms have been disinfected and whitewashed.
The hunger strike has set off a number of reactions throughout the world: appeals from the Saharawi Red Crescent, the Saharawi Parliament, the Union of Saharawi Youth, the Union of Saharawi Workers (SPS). Statements have been issued by the Polisario Front Mission for UK and Ireland, by the European Parliamentary intergroup, "Peace for the Saharawi People" and by the Spanish League for Human Rights LEPDDHH (spanish ).
AFAPREDESA and the Union of Saharawi Lawyers sent a full dossier to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs Mary Robinson.
The Western Sahara Alliance (Australia) launched an action of letters to the Australian Government and the UN Secretary General. The British NGO, War on Want sent out an urgent action inviting members to write to the King of Morocco and the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan. The Swedish organizations Afrikagrupperna and Saharabulletinen ask the Swedish government to act for the immediate release of the Saharawi political prisoners and for the respect of human rights in Western Sahara occupied by Morocco. In a letter to the foreign minister the situation of the prisoners and the hunger strike are explained.
In its letter of 09.01 to the Security Council, the Moroccan government claims that 97 persons (of whom 15 were arrested for vandalism in Smara on 17.11.01) have stopped their hunger strike following improvements made to their conditions of detention.
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