WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

original french

WEEK 39

22.-28.09.2002

 

SADR

23.09.02
Defector
The former military commander and former member of the executive of the Polisario Front, Lehbib Sidi Aouba, known as Ayoub Lehbib, defected to Morocco and offered his allegiance to the king. (SPS)

26.09.02
Moroccan elections
In a letter sent to the UN Secretary General, the President of the Saharawi Republic denounced the "electoral farce" which Morocco is preparing in its occupied territories, an act which Mohamed Abelaziz considers "devoid of any legality" and which he qualifies as a "provocation", and called on the UN to prevent the occupying power from creating indefinite «faits accomplis». Furthermore, the President of the Republic indicated that the Moroccan occupation authorities, taking advantage of the "requirements of public order necessitated by the electoral farce" have proceeded to "a veritable manhunt operation including abductions", which he denounced. (SPS)

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

24.09.02
Arrests in El Ayoun
The Moroccan Security Services, operating in unmarked cars, one of which belonged to a milk distribution business, broke into the homes of several members of the Forum for Truth and Justice, Sahara Section. Plain clothed policemen searched their homes without a warrant, threatened their relatives and carried off eight or nine people. They are: Salek Bazaid, the three Moussamih brothers, Baba, Larbi and Bachri (an adolescent minor born in 1986), their uncle, Bougrain (Moussaoui) Mohamed El Mehdi, Leboihi Mohamed Salem, Tarfaoui Ali (who suffers from a psychiatric illness) and Moufid Abdelih. Moussamih Larbi, the adolescent Moussamih Bachri and Leboihi Mohamed Salem were released as well as Moufid, a Moroccan hairdresser, arrested by mistake...
Salek Bazaid is a former political detainee. He was part of the group of the "six of Agadir" with Keltoum El Ouanate, Jouda Brahim, Bennou Mohamed, Elbar Barikallah and El Gharabi Sidi Ali, sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment in 1993 by the military court of Rabat for taking part in a peaceful demonstration in Smara in 1992. Adopted by Amnesty International they were pardoned by Hassan II in 1996.
Moussamih Larbi, a member of the Sahara section of the Forum for Truth and Justice, was sentenced in 1999 to 2 years in prison for taking part in the demonstrations in El Ayoun in 1999. (see
week 44/99 and other documents) He was one of the 26 Saharawi political prisoners for whom a vast campaign of solidarity was organised in summer 2001. Having ended his sentence on 03.11.01, he was released a week before the royal pardon was granted to the others, including Mohamed Daddach.
Four people remain under arrest: Salek Bazaid, Moussamih Baba, Bourhil Mohamed Lamine and Bougrain (Moussaoui) Mohamed El Mehdi, (Tarfaoui Ali liberated). Their families went to the court on 25.09.02 to lodge a complaint about these illegal arrests, but the procurer of the king refused to receive them.
Explanations for this action give different reasons according to the sources: distribution of pamphlets recalling the 3rd anniversary of the demonstrations of El Ayoun in September 1999 and favourable to the Polisario Front or a call to boycott the elections and being in possession of SADR flags. The daily Al Ahdath speaks of dismantling a criminal network connected with the attack and burning of a police station three months ago. (corr., SPS)

26.09.02
Thorolf Raftos memorial award 2002 to Sidi Mohammed Daddach
The Board of the
Rafto Foundation has decided to give the Thorolf Raftos memorial award 2002 to Sidi Mohammed Daddach, of Western Sahara. The Rafto Foundation's wish with this award is to support the Saharawi people's struggle for human rights and self - determination. In this sense the Rafto Foundation urges the Norwegian authorities to engage themselves more strongly to find a solution to the conflict and underlines that it can only be solved by the Saharawi people being heard through a free, open and just referendum.
The Rafto prize was created in 1986 by the Norwegian professor Thorolf Rafto, who devoted a great part of his life to the defence of human rights. It is given to people, not always well known, to encourage their action and consists in a diploma, a cheque for 50,000 Norwegian crowns (6,830 euros) and the holding of a seminar. The award ceremony will be held on 3 November next in Bergen, Norway. Among the prize-winners of past years are Shirin Ebadi, 2001, the first woman judge in Iran, who works for the defence of women's and children's rights at the head of a movement for human rights in her country, Kim Dae-Jung, 2000, political leader from South Korea, Genadij Grusjevoj,1999, an activist for democracy and human rights in Belarus, Palermo Anno Uno, a Sicilian NGO fighting against the mafia, Leyla Zana, a Kurdish lawyer in prison for her activities in the defence of human rights, Elena Bonner, Aung San Suu Kyi and the people of East Timor. (
Press statement - to send congratulations )

REFERENDUM

21.09.02
UN General Assembly
Representatives of several countries spoke in the general debate in the 57th session of the UN General Assembly to deplore the delay in the process of self-determination in Western Sahara and to call for the speedy implementation of the UN/OAU peace plan: Namibie, Tanzania, Mozambique, Uganda, Malawi, Lesotho, Mauritania, Niger and Belize.

25.09.02
Australia
Replying to a written question from a member of parliament, the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs reaffirmed that his government is in favour of a speedy holding of the referendum in Western Sahara. Alexander Downer confirmed having recently sent a letter in this sense to his Moroccan counterpart.

26.09.01
Australia
The Australian Senate adopted motion 194, in which it says that the only just, legal and lasting solution to the conflict in the Western Sahara is the organisation of a free and fair referendum to allow the Saharawi people to exercise their right to self-determination, in accordance with the UN/Organisation of African Unity peace plan. It calls on both parties, Morocco and the Polisario Front to cooperate with the UN in this aim, and asks the Australian Government to intervene in the UN in this sense and with the Moroccan government to respect human rights in the occupied territories.

27.09.02
UN - East Timor
East Timorese President Xanana Gusmao marked his country's admission as the UN's 191st member with a defence of the right to independence of both the Palestinians and the people of the Western Sahara: "While the case of East Timor is regarded as a UN success, the case of the Western Sahara continues to be put in abeyance by a succession of obstacles. At this moment of assertion of our freedom and independence, we also wish to call for the resumed implementation of the UN plan for a referendum on the Western Sahara's self-determination." "Only a just, free and democratic vote like the one held in East Timor can bring this unjust situation to an end." (RDP Antena 1 radio, Lisbon, in Portuguese)

27.09.02
Security Council
The following five countries have been elected to the Security Council: Chile, Angola, Pakistan, Germany and Spain. They will take their place from 1 January 2003 replacing Norway, Mauritius, Singapore, Colombia and Ireland.

SOLIDARITY

Mantova, Italia, 19.09.02: Presentazione dell'associazione FADEL ISMAIL per la libertà del popolo saharawi, per una soluzione giusta e non violenta nel Sahara Occidentale, con il rappresentante del Fronte Polisario Omar Mih, il ministro della salute Omar Mansour e il Ministro della Cooperazione della RASD Salek Baba. L'associazione mantovana si inserisce in un quadro di progetti di solidarietà con il popolo saharawi già attivi da qualche anno a livello locale, e ha l'intento di promuovere una rete di coordinamento regionale delle azioni pro Saharawi.

Madrid, 26.09.02: Plazas Vivas: Sahara en el corazón de las mujeres.

Zaragoza, 28.09.02: Cena - Concierto en apoyo a los Estudiantes Saharauis.

COMING UP...

8, 9 et 10.10.02, Bruxelles
Une délégation de la Plateforme des femmes artistes et chanteuses contre la violence de genre d'Espagne se rend à Bruxelles, dans le but d'exposer aux parlementaires européens la difficile situation que vit le peuple sahraoui en raison de l'obstruction du Maroc au Plan de paix de l'ONU.
La plateforme des femmes artistes demande au PE de s'engager pour la légalité internationale en soutenant la mise en oeuvre urgente du référendum d'autodétermination.
La délégation sera accueilie au PE par Laura González, eurodéputée IU des Asturies puis rencontrera Margot Kessler, présidente de l'Intergroupe "Paix pour le peuple sahraoui" du PE. Des entrevues avec des parlementaires de tous les groupes et pays sont prévues ainsi qu'avec des membres de la représentation du FP auprès de l'UE. La délégation comprend 9 actrices et 10 chanteuses.

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