WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

original french

WEEK 03

13.-19.01.2002

Headlines

Last SG Report
Hunger strike in the El Ayoun prison suspended
Total-Dakar Rally
Repatriation of Moroccan POWs

 

11.01.02
SG Report
S/2002/41 (annexes)
This report includes three annexes, a memorandum from the Polisario Front of 4 October 2001, commentaries by the Algerian government of 7 October, and observations by Morocco of 10 November, detailing clarifications of their respective positions concerning the Framework-Agreement, as agreed during the Pinedale meeting. (27-29.08.01).
For the Polisario Front, which rejects the Framework-Agreement categorically, this does not constitute the basis for the settlement of the problem of Western Sahara or even a means to re-launch negotiations.
Algeria advances arguments based on international law to show that "the approach contained in the Framework-Agreement is unacceptable".
Morocco expresses its disappointment at these refusals to enter into the substance of the proposal which it was disposed to use as a basis for negotiations.

The United Nations Security council held on Tuesday a meeting behind-closed-doors to examine the latest interim-report of UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, on the situation in the Sahara. The council chairman, Jagdish Koonjul, told reporters the Council members had "a useful exchange of views".

13.01.02
Total-Dakar Rally
The Saharawi Ministry of Foreign Affairs states on the Total-Dakar Rally: «The organisers of the Paris-Dakar Rally have fully respected the agreement made with the Polisario Front. The rally crossed  Saharawi territory during the night of 3 to 4 January 2002. The crossing took place by night, after 22.00 hours. No press was present.- The race was suspended as the vehicles passed through in convoy,  from the northern border of Western Sahara with Morocco until it crossed the berm in the Amgala region, escorted by MINURSO military units. Next year the Rally, according to the agreement, will not pass across Western Sahara.»

17.01.02
Hunger strike in the El Ayoun prison suspended
(see also weeks
01/02 and 02/02 )
At the end of 24 days of hunger strike, the Saharawi detainees decided to suspend their action, after having obtained satisfaction on the following points: access to drinking water and to the prison's public telephone, easing of the overcrowding in the cells.
In a statement, they declare themselves determined to pursue their struggle for the liberation of political detainees, the improvement of prison conditions and the retrial of those sentenced under common law. They denounce the indifference of the Moroccan government, political parties and human rights organisations and deplore the fact that their action was not mentioned in the latest report of the UN Secretary General on Western Sahara.
The movement of the detainees gained the support of the local Saharawi population. After several street demonstrations, the mothers, sisters and wives of the Saharawi hunger strikers published a statement, in which they supported the demands of the prisoners. A petition in solidarity collected several hundred signatures in El Ayoun. Two Saharawi prisoners in Kenitra,and the prisoner Danfour Mohamed in Agadir as well as a group of Saharawi students from the University of Agadir fasted for a day in solidarity.
Saharawi human rights defenders, who took action in favour of the prisoner's movement, are subjected to close surveillance from the police forces, in particular M. H'mad Hammad (Ahmad Hamad), a civil servant and former political prisoner, one of the disappeared and a torture victim in 1997 (see week
30/1997 and 14/2001 ). He refused to be transferred to Tarfaya (100 km from El Ayoun), a measure considered to be repressive and discriminatory. He is watched and constantly followed by the police. He fears for his life, as there have several attempts to eliminate him.

Among the international reactions to the struggle of the prisoners let us mention the press release of the French Association Amis de la RASD and the Association Française d'Amitié et de Solidarité avec les Peuples d'Afrique . The Australian organizations Western Sahara Alliance and Australian Western Sahara Association will hold a protest and rally on 23 January on the steps of Sydney Town Hall.
The Saharawi Minister delegate to Europe, M. Sidati, addressed an
urgent appeal to the European Union «to deploy all efforts to convince the Moroccan authorities to stop their repressive policies». He urges  «that a mission of observers from the European Union be sent to El Ayoun in order to see the facts for themselves».
The Association of Families of Saharawi prisoners and disappeared (AFAPREDESA) and the Union of Saharawi Jurists (UJS), in a
joint declaration on the occasion of the repatriation of the 115 Moroccan prisoners of war, expressed their concern as to the fate of 526 disappeared Saharawis and continued serious human rights abuses in the occupied territories. The two NGOs recalled that dramatic and inhumane conditions persist in the black prison of El Ayoun, which led 131 detainees to start a hunger strike.

17.01.02
Prisoners of war
The 115 Moroccan prisoners of war liberated by the Polisario were repatriated to Agadir on board a Swedish plane chartered by the UN. The prisoners were handed over to the ICRC in the presence of the president of the Saharawi Red Crescent, representatives of the Spanish Red Cross and MINURSO. The president of the Saharawi Red Crescent in a speech, criticised the ICRC, for its "excessive concern" for the Moroccan prisoners and its "forgetting" about the fate of the Saharawi prisoners in the hands of Morocco. Humanitarian justice must always be equitable in its treatment of the same problems, he added. For Mr Boulahe, "the crisis that the Saharawi refugee population has been living through for over 26 years as well as that of civilians in the occupied territories cannot be ignored."
M'hamed Khaddad, the Saharawi coordinator with MINURSO, emphasised that the war is not over, and that the respect of the cease-fire is linked to the implementation of the peace plan. We cannot restrict ourselves to solving isolated humanitarian problems, he said. Khaddad pointed out that 226 Saharawi prisoners of war remain in Morocco, adding that there would be no further liberation of prisoners so long as Morocco does not investigate their fate.(SPS)

17.01.02
Referendum
The new UN secretary general's special representative for Western Sahara, Mr William L Swing, was received in Algiers by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The statement published at the end of the meeting indicates that Mr  Belkhadem "brought up the general question of Western Sahara and in particular the ways and means that would best re-launch the process for implementing the United Nations settlement plan." (SPS)

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23.01.02, Sidney, Australia,1 pm Town Hall steps: Protest to support Saharan hunger strikers. Org: Western Sahara Alliance and Australian Western Sahara Association

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