WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

original french

WEEKS 25 + 26

15.-28.06.2003

 

RASD

11.06.03
Polisario Front
At a regular meeting of the National Secretariat, the second political body of the Polisario Front, it was announced that the 11th Congress of the organisation would be held in October. (SPS)

17.06.03
The President of the Republic, Mohamed Abdelaziz, presided at the Chahid El Ouali military school, over the graduation of a new group of non-commissioned officers and troops of the Saharawi Popular Liberation Army.  (SPS)

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

18.06.03
Moroccan Court Upholds Closure of the Sahara branch of a prominent HR Organization
On June 18, 2003, the Moroccan court of first instance in El Aaiun  decided to uphold its decree by dissolving the Sahara branch of the Forum for Truth and Justice, a prominent human rights organization. The court ruled that the group had "performed illegal and separatist activitists that did not comply with its status." The court also banned the group from holding any meetings, ordered the closure of the branch's office and the transfer of its assets to the executive office of the Forum marocain pour la vérité et la justice, the parent organization.(>>
Dossier)
Original documents of the trial and accusation will be available soon.

Protests:

25.06.03
Sentence
The court of appeal in El Ayoun sentenced El Moussaoui Dkhil to one year in prison and 5,000 dirhams' fine (500 US dollars). The packed courtroom was guarded by large numbers of police. Two Spanish lawyers were able to be present at the trial, which took place behind closed doors, which is a first in the judicial annals of the town. The defence was provided by five barristers both Saharawi and Moroccan. The accused had been abducted from his place of work in Dakhla on 8 April last, see
more >>.

REFERENDUM

12.06.03
USA
Before the US Congress, Congressman PITTS declared: I am deeply concerned that the negotiations over the Western Sahara for the past decade have all been for nothing. Former Moroccan Minister of Interior Driss Basri recently said, "The Houston Agreement did not come as a way to find a solution to the issue of Sahara . It came as a starting point of an American plan and it will preserve the American interests,'' and as U.N. diplomat Marrack Goulding wrote, "for enhanced autonomy for Western Sahara within the kingdom of Morocco.'' I find it deplorable and offensive that various officials of Morocco, the U.N., and the U.S. engaged in what amounted to a farce. They spent over $530 million and negotiated an agreement to hold a referendum for the people of Western Sahara without ever intending to hold that referendum. Mr. Speaker, this is not a game. The people of Western Sahara agreed to a ceasefire on the basis that all parties would uphold the negotiated agreement of a free, fair, and transparent referendum for self-determination. The people of Western Sahara have no desire to suffer under the colonial rule of the kingdom of Morocco; and so the United States, the U.N., and Morocco should stop the game-playing and implement the referendum. (
full text)

Denmark
Organised by the Danish Party Det Radikale Venstre (Social-Liberal Party), a conference on Western Sahara was held lately at the Danish Parliament, to which Mr. Sidi Omar, Representative of Frente POLISARIO in Denmark, was invited as a guest speaker. In his presentation, Mr. Omar firstly recalled the historical background to the Saharawi question and then proceeded to expound on the current situation of human rights in the Saharawi territories under Moroccan occupation, as well as the ongoing UN peace process in Western Sahara. In his closing remarks, Mr. Ole Olsen, Vice-Chairman of the party's Committee of International Relations, declared his party's vehement condemnation of all sorts of occupation and expansionism and reaffirmed its full support to the international legality and to the UN resolutions calling for the democratic and free exercise by the Saharawi people of its internationally-recognised right to self-determination and freedom.

18.06.03
EU
The member of the European Parliament and Chair of the Intergroup "Peace for the Saharawi people",  Margot Kessler received a letter from the Member of the European Commission responsible for External Relations, Mr Christopher Patten. "Regarding the conflict over the territory of Western Sahara opposing Morocco and the Frente Polisario, the European Union would like to see a quick resolution of this conflict. We give our full support to the efforts of the United Nations Secretary General towards finding a mutually acceptable solution, while fully respecting international legality. We also encourage the parties in conflict to engage in a constructive mutual dialogue and to adopt confidence building measures concerning humanitarian aspects".

MOROCCO

17.06.03
Ali Lmrabet sentenced on appeal
The Moroccan journalist who had been dealt a sentence of four years in prison together with a fine and a ban on his two weekly papers, saw his sentence reduced by one year at the appeal. Lmrabet is accused of insulting the king and attacking territorial integrity (articles on Western Sahara). He observed a hunger strike which he ended after 50 days. (
comunicado AFAPREDESA 21.06.03 - communiqué AARASD du 17.06.03)

ALGERIA

14.06.03
On the occasion of the visit to Algiers of the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Benaïssa, his Algerian counterpart Belkhadem indicated that concerning the question of Western Sahara: "What matters is to reach a settlement on this question which guarantees rights". "Even though it has been going on a long time, the question of Western Sahara should not get in the way of the progress of our two countries and two peoples towards consultation, cooperation and working together on economic, cultural, political and diplomatic levels", affirmed Mr Belkhadem. (APS)

16.06.03.
According to Le Soir d'Algérie, Bouteflika and Mohamed VI could meet "very soon" in Washington on the occasion of the summit which will allow the two heads of state to straighten out their differences on the subject of Western Sahara and to decide the date of the re-opening of the Algerian-Moroccan border.

HUMANITARIAN AID

20.06.03
Denial by Enfants réfugiés du monde (Refugee Children of the World)
"We are therefore extremely shocked to read in an article published by the Maroc Hebdo International, No 561 of 6 June 2003, the following phrase: "... the use of (Saharawi) refugee children in a wide paedophile network in Cuba condemned by organisations such as  "Enfants Réfugiés du Monde" ... (the title of the article: Misappropriation of humanitarian aid by the Polisario, the milch cow). We issue a formal denial of this claim which is not based on any statement written or oral coming from our association. We ask you therefore to note this in your next issue."

SOLIDARITY

16.06.03: The Basque government and SADR have signed an agreement of  mutual help and collaboration in the fields of justice and human rights. The Basque government will finance information gathering by the judicial service, the training of staff as well as research into Saharawi disappeared and prisoners held by the Moroccan government.

21.06.03
Saharawi woman's Tour of Australia and NZ concludes
The tour of the first Saharawi woman to visit Australia and New Zealand began on 20 May in Sydney  with a reception hosted by the Hon Dr Meredith Burgmann, MLC, President of the Legislative Council at the NSW Parliament. This was the auspicious occasion on which Fatima Mahfoud, representing the National Union of Saharawi Women, was welcomed.

Fatima then spent a busy ten days in New Zealand, speaking at meetings in Auckland University, Waikato University in Hamilton, University of Canterbury at Christchurch, Lincoln University and Victoria University in Wellington. She met and addressed many groups interested in international development. Talks with politicians included  the Labour Party and Green Party Members of Parliament. Two interviews were published in the New Zealand press.
In Canberra for two days, Fatima had meetings with MPs and senators, the ALP National Security Caucus Committee and the Status of Women Caucus Committee. Fatima also addressed a meeting of the international NGO UNIFEM (United Nations Fund for Women). In a separate visit later in the tour, Fatima was able to talk with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
Sydney offered many opportunities for Fatima to meet the press including an interview with the main Sydney newspaper (
Sydney Morning Herald) as well as a radio interview  on ABC's Late Night Live and to record interviews with SBS for Arabic, Italian and African programs. Audiences had the chance to hear Fatima speak at universities (Sydney, UNSW, Western Sydney), in the Trades Hall, at a community health centre and at a school and to ask lots of questions at "Politics in the Pub" at the Gaelic Club. The SBS documentary on the forgotten conflict in Western Sahara was shown several times as it was, also, in Melbourne. Social events included a lunch in Sydney attended by the Federal Member of Parliament Tanya Plibersek.
Fatima Mahfoud concluded her visit to Melbourne on 21.06 with a tea ceremony at a Saturday market. Earlier in the week she was welcomed with a dinner hosted by Senator Lyn Allison and attended by a member of the Victorian state parliament, Glenyys Romanes. She was interviewed on a popular radio program, also on community radio, met many NGOs and spoke with Sharan Burrow the president of the ACTU (national trade union body).  She took part in a panel discussion about decolonization and addressed a meeting organised by the Refugee Council of Australia for World Refugee Day on 20 June. A World Refugee Week exhibition of Danielle Smith's photos of the Saharawi refugee camps continues until 8 July.  An interview was recorded with the International Women's Development Agency for a special feature on the Saharawi cause.

25.06.03: Wien, Das vergessene Wüstenvolk, Podiumsgespräch mit Najad Hamdi, Vertreterin der Frente Polisario in Österreich, Ali Kohlbacher: Vorstandsmitglied der österreichisch Sahrauischen Gesellschaft (Organisat. die Donaustädter Sozial- und Entwicklungshilfe).

 INTERNET

NEW PUBLICATIONS
[External links to newspapers may not be valid after some days because the servers are restarted]

Français

Les dépêches, articles, etc, sont accessibles aux non-abonnés sur Sahara-Info, liste de courrier (français et espagnol): http://es.groups.yahoo.com/group/sahara-info/messages

English

English publications on Sahara Update mailinglist: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sahara-update/messages

Castellano

Todos los despachos, articulos de prensa, etc, son acessible por no-abonados en Sahara-Info, lista de correo (castellano y francés): http://es.groups.yahoo.com/group/sahara-info/messages

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