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Algiers - International meeting on the exploitation of Western Sahara's natural resources
Several international lawyers as well as representatives of SADR and European Committees of solidarity with the Saharawi people took part in this meeting, organised by the Algerian Committee of solidarity with the Saharawi people. In his opening address the Saharawi President reaffirmed the attachment of the Saharawi people to the referendum. In the final document, the meeting denounced Morocco's colonial policy, and "the attitude of certain multinational companies in their projects of plunder of the resources of Western Sahara", and "welcomed the withdrawal of the Norwegian company TGS-NOPEC from the consortium of companies active" in occupied Western Sahara. The meeting decided to refer the matter to representatives of the international community asking them to act in favour of the respect of UN resolutions and the immediate cessation of all exploration and exploitation of Western Sahara.
Speaking on a broadcast from Channel 3 on Algerian TV, the Saharawi president ruled out the option of returning to war: "I don't think that there could be a return to hostilities in the region", he declared, pointing out that "political action has taken over from military action" and that "the Saharawi leadership is sticking to the organisation a referendum of self-determination". (Le Jeune Indépendant, Algiers)
According to Africa Energy Intelligence, Total has for the moment put on hold its activity in offshore Western Sahara. The French group, holding a reconnaissance permit offshore from Dakhla... last year carried out a seismic survey of the area, of which the results are believed to be disappointing, and a new study, planned initially, has been postponed, or even cancelled. According to Upstream, "the growing brouhaha over whether Morocco has the right to manage exploration and production activity offshore" is not unconnected with this decision. Kerr McGee... may also be slowing down its reconnaissance work in the area. (Africa Energy Intelligence - Edition française N° 466)
Meanwhile the director of the Norwegian seismic survey company Multiwave says it will not undertake surveys in disputed territories such as Western Sahara.
Ali Salem Tamek
The political prisoner, Tamek Ali Salem, is continuing his intermittent hunger strikes to claim his rights, the last was on 27-28 June. In an appeal, the Committee of Action for the release of Tamek Ali Salem and all Saharawi political prisoners makes it known that the health of the Saharawi political detainee keeps getting worse and gives rise to concern.
Tamek himself in "A Call from Darkness" exposes his conditions of detention and "launches an urgent appeal to all human rights defenders, to all human rights organizations and to all peace-loving people everywhere to intervene to bring pressure to bear on the Moroccan authorities and help save my life. " A Call from Darkness
Dissolution of the Sahara Section of the Forum for Truth and Justice (FVJ).
The Moroccan Forum for Truth and Justice denounced the dissolution of its branch in Western Sahara on the occasion of the presentation of its annual report for 2002 on the human rights situation in Morocco. Its president, Mr Sebbar pointed out that the accusations of spreading pro-Polisario propaganda were not supported by any proof. In his opinion the court confused a moral agent, the FVJ, with physical persons. (the legal documents are available in Arabic and summarised in French and English )
The Amnesty international woldwide appeal for the month of July is dedicated to " Western Sahara civil society activists", in particular the political prisoners Moussaoui Dkhil, Salek Bazaid and Ahmed Nasiri . (AI Appeal )
The Appeal Court of El Ayoun passed sentence on the prison warder accused of having caused the death of Mohamed Boucetta and two Saharawi common law prisoners who helped him. (full story )
The verdict is quite different than expected: the prison warder was acquitted, while the two co-detainees were sentenced to two years' imprisonment and a fine of 5000 dirhams (500 US dollars). It seems that this is the way the Moroccan authorities, which would be responsible for the actions of state officials, can get out of having to pay compensation to the family of the victim.
Human rights defenders
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in a statement on the sentencing of Dkhil El Moussaoui, member of the Forum for Truth and Justice (FVJ), by the Appeal Court of El Ayoun, to one year in prison and 5000 dirhams' fine for "incitement to disturbances in public order", (see week 25/26/2003) recalls the context of continual harassment of defenders denouncing human rights abuses in Western Sahara and calls for the immediate release of all persons arrested arbitrarily because of their work defending and promoting human rights in Western Sahara, the end of harassment of members of the Sahara Section of the Forum for Truth and Justice, the lifting of the ban on this same branch, a guarantee for all human rights defenders to be able to exercise their freedom of expression in accordance with the international instruments of human rights defence and the Declaration of human rights defenders adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1998.(Statement in French: )
In his speech during an exchange of toasts with the Mauritanian President Mr. Maaouiya Ould Sid Ahmed Taya, King Juan Carlos 1 emphasised that Mauritania and Spain both want a quick and agreed, fair and workable solution for all concerned on the question of the Sahara within the context of the United Nations.
Meeting of the EP Intergroup "Peace for the Saharawi people": Statement in French - Comunicado en castellano.
On the occasion of the start of his office as chair of the Security Council for July, Inocencio Arias, Spanish Ambassador at the UN, gave expression to the Spanish position on Western Sahara. (see Spanish press)
In an interview, the Algerian minister for African Affairs, Messahel stated that "Algeria considers that the new proposal of Mr James Baker, in so far as its implementation would guarantee the exercise of the inalienable right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination..., constitutes a constructive approach which includes interesting elements and which creates a new dynamic in the search for a just, fair and definitive solution." (El Watan)
In the course of "Study Days on Western Sahara, the legal antecedents and the present situation of the conflict", organised by the College of Lawyers in this town, the Observatory for human rights was inaugurated, there were also various activities, lectures, exhibitions etc. Contact: mailto:email@example.com
«Un alumno unladrillo - Ikasle bat, adreilu bat» Proyecto de EHIGE para el SAHARA. "Euskal Herriko Ikasleen Gurasoen Elkartea", Federaciones y Asociaciones de Madres y Padres de Alumnado de los Centros Públicos de Euskal Herria. Web: http://www.ehige-sahara.org/
12.07.03, 12 h., Madrid, Plaza Mayor: Fiesta de solidaridad y encuentro «Los niños y niñas saharauis exigen paz y libertad». Para apoyar esta fiesta y conseguir su objetivo entregaremos al Presidente del Gobierno un manifiesto firmado por las familias acogedoras y simpatizantes de la causa saharaui.
Refugee camps: Film Festival 13 -16.11.03. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
[External links to newspapers may not be valid after some days because the servers are restarted]
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