SADR - East Timor
The Saharawi President carried out a three-day official visit in East Timor and took part in festivities for the proclamation of independence. He was greeted at the airport by José Ramos Horta, Nobel Peace Prize winner and Minister of Foreign Affairs in the new state. Mohamed Abdelaziz had talks in Dili with his counterpart Xanana Gusmao on subjects of common interest. Speaking before the Timorese Parliament meeting in his honour, he declared that "the people of East Timor and the people of Western Sahara are twin peoples", who have "endured the same suffering, made enormous sacrifices, resisted and struggled side by side for their rights to be respected by expansionist neighbours, who have little respect for peoples, blinded as they are by their desire for potentially rich territories". The Government of East Timor met in an extraordinary session to receive President Abdelaziz. The Prime Minister of the first Timorese government, Mr Marti Alkatiri, expressed, in the name of his team, his conviction that the Saharawi people, like their Timorese brothers, "would acieve their goal" whatever obstacles are placed before them. He expressed the determination of the government of East Timor to continue its unfailing support for the United Nations peace plan, which should lead to a referendum of self-determination for the Saharawi people. In a joint statement the two governments announced the establishment of diplomatic relations.(Joint statement )
The Saharawi Republic announced that it had concluded, after three years of talks, a Technical Agreement Contract with the Anglo-Australian oil exploration company, Fusion Oil & Gas plc (Fusion), to evaluate the presence of offshore oil and gas in the whole of the territorial waters off Western Sahara, the zone for which Morocco signed prospecting contracts with a French and an American company. Fusion will study for 16 months all the available geological and geophysical research available and will obtain in exchange exploration licences in three zones. These permits will be granted within six months of SADR joining the UN. (Press release )
Fusion discovered in 2001 the first deep water oil deposit in the region (Chinguetti-1, off Mauritania).
In a letter sent to the current president of the Socialist International, the secretary general of the Polisario Front vigorously protested about the fact that the Polisario Front had not been invited to the meeting, which was held in Casablanca from 31.05 to 01.06.02. The Polisario Front is regularly invited to IS meetings.
The six activists from Smara, sentenced to 6 months in prison (see week 18/02), have served their sentences and been released.
On the occasion of the anniversary of the proclamation of the Saharawi Republic, about twenty young Saharawis, in hoods and carrying torches and Molotov cocktails, met briefly in the Skikima area of El Ayoun. Brandishing SADR flags they distributed leaflets and chanted slogans, set tyres alight and threw the petrol bombs on the road. They dispersed before the arrival of the police. The leaflets were signed "Forces vives sahraouies" and "Organisation des cagoulés sahraouis (Organisation of hooded Saharawis)". (corr.)
The Sahara branch of the Forum of Truth and Justice (FVJ), an organisation for victims of the Moroccan regime and their families, has appointed its delegates for the FVJ congress, to be held from 16 to 18 June in Casablanca.
The Moroccan police proceeded at 11pm to the arrest in the middle of the street of a mentally handicapped Saharawi citizen, Driss Bilal Khatri Sidi Barra, punching him in the face and stomach. The next day they took him to the Ben El Mehdi Hospital in El Ayoun. At the time of his arrest, Driss wore tatoos on his hands in favour of the Polisario Front. (AFAPREDESA)
Taher Saâd Bouh Abderrahman ould Abbad was the victim of an anti-personnel mine near the Algerian-Moroccan border. He is believed to have had a leg amputated. Arrested by the army, he was taken to the Royal Gendarmerie, who locked him up in a military barracks near Agadir. Despite his state of health, members of his family, who live in El Ayoun, were prevented from visiting him. (AFAPREDESA, French,Spanish )
During a press conference in El Ayoun, the national federation of teaching and the autonomous federation of teaching, El Ayoun brances, revealed that several teachers, who are active in the field of human rights, would be forcibly transferred to Morocco. (Le Reporter, Morocco)
Having broken no rule in the highway code, the Saharawi human rights activist, Aminatou Haydar was arrested at 22.00 hours by a traffic policeman, near the Maâtallah in El Ayoun. After checking her papers, the policeman called on the walkie talkie the judicial police, saying they were carrying out orders. The judicial police then proceeded to a routine interrogatation for an hour. The papers for Aminatou's car had already been confiscated by the authorities on 10 May, on the occasion of the Prayer for the Absent One for Fadel Ismail, and then returned on the 13. Aminatou was member of the Daddach committee. She had "disappeared" for four years in the secret prison of the CMI in El Ayoun, including nine months of solitary confinement. (corr.)
Having confiscated his car, the Moroccan authorities arrested in Smara the Saharawi citizen Elghawt Bachri Mohamed, known as Haddi, and moved him to El Ayoun. The authorities suspected that his car was used for the demonstration of the young hooded Saharawis on 17 May. (corr.)
Leaflets on which one could read : "independence through peace or war", "the whole country or martyrdom" and SADR flags were distributed in the village of Asrir. A long banner made of white material had been put up on a wall so as to be highly visible with the words : "Saharawi masses celebrate the anniversary of 20 May with the theme 'despite repression we are a people who do not die' and we congratulate Saharawi human rights defenders, particularly Sidi Mohamed Daddach". The village of Asrir is 10 km south of Goulimine (Southern Morocco), on 29 May it celebrates an annual religious moussem, in the memory of a local marabout known by the name of Lemaaylil. This moussem draws big crowds coming from Western Sahara and Morocco. It is in this same village that in October 2001 a public protest was severely repressed. (see week 41/01). (corr.)
A delegation of fifteen Spanish politicians and journalists, who arrived by aircraft to the El Ayoun airport from the Canaray Islands, was not allowed to enter the territory by Morrocan authorities and had to turn back after a few hours. The group was on a three days information trip and several meetings with the MINURSO staff, local officials and NGOs were scheduled during the visit. >> more Spanish
Brussels: International conference on the protection of the natural resources of Western Sahara.
The European Coordination of committees of support for the Saharawi people and the Belgian committee of support for the Saharawi people invited many specialists in legal and technical questions in the fields of fishing and hydro-carbons to attend an information day, in which 50 people from 12 countries took part.
Various speakers described the inventory of natural resources and tried to define the legal means to protect them from illegal exploitation by the Moroccan occupier and how to plan for a sustainable management of them. The Canadian lawyer Jeffrey J. Smith brilliantly expounded the legal norms regulating the off shore extraction of hydrocarbons. The Spanish lawyers Juan Soroeta and Juan Miguel Ortega emphasised that any newly independent state has the right to cancel exploitation contracts made during colonisation. A worrying account was presented of the over-exploitation of the fishing resources by Pierre Gillet. The participants worked in small groups to draw up international campaigns for the protection of natural resources.
A group of lawyers, specialists in international law from European countries and Canada, met alongside the conference on 23 May. They sent an urgent message to the UN secretary general in which they express their keenest preoccupations concerning the proposals for political solutions presented to the Security Council. They announce that they will send in the near future a memorandum pointing out the essential legal points on Western Sahara's case, but they wish to draw the secretary general's attention firmly and immediately to the fact that "outside a referendum of self-determination and without the consent of the Saharawi people, there is no alternative way forward in conformity with the right to independence". (Letter French)
Congress of Green Parties
During its third congress in Berlin, the Federation of European Green Parties adopted a resolution on Western Sahara, in which it notes that the solution to this conflict of decolonisation must include the exercise of the right to self-determination and calls for a more active engagement in favour of the peace plan. (Resolution)
Isidoro Sánchez García, MEP, considers in an amendment on the draft report "on the relations between the European Union and the Union of the Arab Maghreb : implementation of a privileged partnership" (Morillon and Cohn-Bendit) that, following the spirit of the Declaration of Barcelona, it is the duty of the European Union to help through dialogue and mediation the resolution of conflicts which could concern the Mediterranean partners of the European Union, such as that of Western Sahara, in conformity with the resolutions of the United Nations and the demands expressed by the European Parliament in its resolution of 16 March 2000 and in keeping with the declarations made by the German presidency of the Council in June 1999.
According the the Moroccan press, the Dominican Republic is alleged to have decided to freeze its recognition of SADR after the official visit to Morocco of its president.
"Since the end of the fishing agreement which linked Morocco and the EU, in November 1999, the fishing sector has developed to a marked extent. In 2001 production rose to 1.12 million tonnes, passing the million mark for the first time, which is an increase of 22% in respect of 2000. Between 1999 and 2000 the increase in production was 20%." (La vie économique, Maroc) [NB the part fished from off Western Sahara in 2001 exceeds 500,000 tonnes, see week 11/02]
A caravan of truth, organised by the Truth and Justice Forum and supported by all the human rights organisations in Morocco, went to Kalaat Mgouna secret detention centre to demand the whole truth be made known on the fate of the disappeared and survivors from the torture centres over nearly 40 years. Many Saharawis have been imprisoned and have died in this jail.
The Algerian minister of foreign affairs, Abdelaziz Belkhadem went to
Nouakchott and Rabat in order to invite the heads of the Mauritanian and Moroccan states to the summit of the heads of state of the Union of the Arab Maghreb, due to be held on 21 and 22 June 2002 in Algiers. (APS)
- Sydney, Australie: On the occasion of 20 May, anniversary of start of the Polisario Front's struggle, the Australian associations Western Sahara Alliance and Australia Western Sahara Association organised a gathering in front of the UN building. They sent letters to the UN secretary general and to the director of the UN Bureau in Australia, in which they asked the international body not to "betray the Western Sahara by abandoning the referendum of self-determination". They drew attention to the similarities with the situation in East Timor and hoped that the Western Sahara will soon also be independent. (Communiqué engl.)
- Enramadas Arbúcies-2002. Espectacular alfombra de flores de 36 metros de longitud dedicado al arte rupestre de Sluguilla (Sahara Occidental), Acto organizado por Associació d'Amics del Poble Saharaui de Arbúcies (Girona, España) con la colaboración de Development Rock Art Association. Sahara News Papers
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