WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

original french

WEEKS 13+14

24.03.-06.04.2002

TITLES

SADR
OCCUPIED TERRITORIES
REFERENDUM
MOROCCO
HUMAN RIGHTS
HUMANITARIAN AID
SOLIDARITY
INTERNET
NEW PUBLICATIONS

SADR

21.03.02: Mohamed Sidati, Minister counselor to the Presidency, accompanied by the representative for the Nordic Countries, met several officials from the Norwegian Department for Foreign Affairs. Norway is a non-permanent member of the Security Council. (Press release Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara)

24.03.02: SADR and the Republic of Malawi have decided to establish diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level. (SPS ) (SADR Radio)

25.03.02: Abdelkader Bensalah, President of the Algerian Popular National Assembly, reaffirmed "Algeria's support of the Saharawi people's cause ", during the audience he granted to a Saharawi delegation led by Salem Lebsir, President of the Saharawi National Council (Parliament), in the presence of Moulay Bouibat, President of the Saharawi Consultative Council. (SPS)

25.03.02 The Polisario Front has re-established freedom of movement for UN military observers in the region, Minurso announced: "The restrictions imposed since January 2001 have been lifted." (agencies)

29.-31.03.02
Fourth Congress of the National Union of Saharawi Women (NUSW)
600 congress participants, among them many guests from various countries, took part in the work. Under the theme "Saharawi women, a force for national independence and progress" workshops treated political, social and economic problems confronting Saharawi women, as well as human rights and cooperation. A new executive secretariat was elected and a new secretary general in the person of Fatma Sheik El Mehdi, at 35 years, she is the youngest ever elected to this post.  A program of action was approved.
Messages were sent by the congress to the following:
- the European Parliament exhorting it to help find a peaceful resolution to the conflict
- to UNICEF asking it to get involved in looking after Saharawi refugee children
- to the international community asking it to require Morocco to "comply with international law and permit the Saharawi people to exercise its right to self-determination and independence"
- to Moroccan women, to call them to "a sincere dialogue to find a solution to the conflict between SADR and the Kingdom of Morocco"
- to Amnesty International and the International Red Cross to thank them for their work for prisoners and disappeared.  (APS
- to UNESCO calling for the protection of heritage archeological sites
 - to Kofi Annan confirming the support of Saharawi women for the referendum
- to the Algerian people thanking for their support and confirming their determination to go forward to liberation and national sovereignty in order to contribute to the Maghreb Union.
(APS)

In a speech to the congress, the President of the Republic called the UN to organise the referendum of self-determination for the Saharawi people as soon as possible and to be aware of the dangers of Moroccan escalation. (APS)

01.04.02: A large American delegation made up of 88 members representing the various American political tendencies - including Congress members, the chairman of the American committee for solidarity with our people, leaders of the various churches, doctors and intellectuals. (SADR Radio)

01.04.02  Ausserd camp: Representatives from American churches on Sunday dedicated their paschal prayer to the coming of peace and justice to Western Sahara and to the return of the refugees to a free and independent country. (SPS)

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

01.03.02: The Moroccan Arabic language weekly Al Ayam published an interview with Brahim Dahhan, an ex-disappeared, ex-political prisoner and member of the Committee of Coordination of Saharawi Victims of Forced Disappearance and Arbitrary Detention. Asked about the last report of the Secretary General, Brahim Dahhan said he was in favour of the partition plan and in favour of a referendum of self-determination. He further emphasised that the Polisario Front is the sole representative of the Saharawi people.

26.03.02: Morocco decided to release 120 million euros for the construction of 12 fishing villages on the coast of Western Sahara, which at present has six fishing villages, a big sardine port in El Ayoun and another in Dakhla. According to a Moroccan minister, it is a question of "an economic response" to "Algerian manoeuvres" aiming for the partition of Western Sahara. (AFP)
There are an estimated 160,000 Moroccan seasonal fishermen on this coast.

Access to international telephonic communications is finally possible from a fixed telephone in the Southern zone [Western Sahara]. (Le Reporter, Morocco, 29.03.02)

Saharawi defectors have problems
The (Moroccan) association for the grouping together of Saharawi families, has decided "to work for the placement of defectors won over to their homeland, into social and economic areas, to find solutions to the problems which oppose such placement and to establish a program of activities on a national and international level in the context of the national cause and the defence of territorial integrity." (Le Reporter, Morocco, 29.03.02)

REFERENDUM

21.03.02 Sweden
Full support for decolonisation of Western Sahara in the Swedish parliament (
Utrikesutskottets betänkande 2001/02 :uu8)
The foreign committee of the Swedish parliament in the debate on international issues on 21 March fully supports the motion by 6 parties from last autumn. The Saharawi people have the right to decolonisation and selfdetermination. Sweden supports the Houston agreement. Sweden continues to support the Saharawi refugees and will work for an increase in the humanitarian assistance also from other countries, the foreign committee declares. (
Press release Polisario representative to the Nordic Countries)

24.03.02: Budapest: At its 51st Congress the Liberal International reaffirms its support for a referendum of self-determination in Western Sahara (Press statement F. Polisario)

24.03.02: Leiden, The Netherlands: Foundation of the Dutch Section of the International Association of Jurists for Western Sahara.(Press statement of the Polisario Front Representation in The Netherlands) (Press release by Pedro Pinto Leite, Member of the International Council of IAJUWS)

26.03.02, The Hague, the Saharawi coordinator with the United Nations, M'hamed Khaddad, affirmed in The Hague that the referendum of self-determination remains "the only acceptable solution" for Western Sahara, while assuring that if this does not happen a return to arms would be inevitable. (SPS)

27.03.02: The Hague: The ambassador of Morocco in the Netherlands did not consider it useful to answer positively the invitation from the departments of international law of the Dutch universities in Leiden, in Utrecht and in Amsterdam, which wanted to organize an academic debate around the conflict of Western Sahara in presence of the Saharawi and Moroccan protagonists. (Press statement by the Polisario representative in The Netherlands. (declaration of the Polisario Front Representation in The Netherlands)

27.03.02: Beirut: Meeting between the King Mohamed VI and Kofi Annan. The talks had bearing on the future of Western Sahara. (agencies)

MOROCCO

22.03.02, Brussels: The Belgian Minister of National Defence denied, in a reply to the letter of Pierre Galand (see week 10 / 2002), any participation in the training of Moroccan crews on military F-16 aeroplanes.

Morocco pursues its diplomatic offensive to defend the third way, namely a pseudo-autonomy for the Saharawis within Morocco. Advisers close to the King and government ministers have been sent to Oslo, Moscow, Dublin, Peking, Sofia, Damascus, Mauritius, the Cameroon, Guinea and Mexico. These special envoys were bearers of a message from the King of Morocco. Mohamed VI himself will travel to Washington at the end of this month. (Overview by Western sahara Online)

HUMAN RIGHTS

25.03.02: Open letter to the 58th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva by Saharawi Human Rights Defenders. They appeal for the appointment of a special rapporteur on the situation in the occupied territories and the setting up of a committee responsible for establishing the truth on repression and the crimes committed by Morocco since its occupation of the territory in 1975.

26.03.02, Geneva, Place des Nations: Meeting of solidarity with disappeared Saharawis in front of UN headquarters where the UN Commission on Human Rights is based. (Statement from BIRDHSO French)

28.03.02: Prisoners of war: In a letter to the Swiss government in Bern, Morocco asked, as the depository of the Geneva Convention of 1949 dealing with the fate of prisoners of war, to intervene with Algeria in order to obtain the release of the1362 remaining Moroccan prisoners of war held by Polisario. A copy of this letter was sent to the 171 state signatories of these Conventions. "We will support the efforts to be made and those already made by the ICRC and the UNHCR", a spokesperson for the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated. (Agencies)

HUMANITARIAN AID

A mission from the UN High Commission for Refugees will go on 10-11 April next to the Saharawi refugee camps in Tindouf. Representatives from the European Union, the World Food Program (WFP/PAM), as well as several diplomats accredited in Algeria, will be part of the trip. This mission will be followed by a meeting of donors in Geneva. (SPS)

SOLIDARITY

Sweden
21-24.03.02 Boycott of tourism to Morocco
On the annual Fair on Tourism on 21-24 March in Gothenburg, Göteborgs Afrikagrupps Västsaharagrupp as usual distributed a couple of thousands of pamphlets urging the visitors not to go to Morocco owing to the occupation of Western Sahara. The fair is the biggest in northern Europe.

Slovenia
The MOROCCAN OCCUPATION OF WESTERN SAHARA MUST BE STOPPED, Sign the Petition to Slovenian Government.

Algérie
19-26.03.02, Semaine de solidarité avec le peuple sahraoui (suite)
Lors de cette semaine organisée par le Comité national algérien de solidarité avec le peuple sahraoui, de nombreuses manifestations diverses (meetings populaires, expositions, spectacles, etc.) ont eu lieu, mises en place par des associations locales à Hussein Dey (Alger), Annaba, Oum el-Bouaghi, Naama, Bechar, Skikda, etc. La semaine s'est terminée par la signature d'un protocole d'accord de coopération et de partenariat entre les villes d'Alger et d'El-Ayoun (RASD).

España
27.03.02, Huesca:
Acuerdo de hermamiento de la ciudad de Huesca en Aragon con una de las wilayas de la RASD.

INTERNET

NEW PUBLICATIONS
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