WESTERN SAHARA

WEEKLY NEWS

original french

WEEKS 32+33+34+35

03.-31.08.2003

SADR

04.08.03
Algiers
Inauguration in Algiers of the SADR diplomatic mission's Information Centre named after the "Martyr Mohamed Fadel Ismaïl", in the presence of the Ambassador of SADR in Algeria and representatives of Algerian political parties and civil society.

10-12.08.03
Extraordinary meeting
The highest body of the Polisario Front, the National Secretariat, met in an extraordinary session, expressed itself satisfied by the adoption of the Security Council resolution 1495/2003. It reaffirmed "the willingness of the Polisario Front to continue to cooperate with the UN Secretary General and with his special envoy, James Baker, in their efforts to hasten the decolonisation of Western Sahara, the last colony of Africa." The Polisario Front considers that only the exercise by the Saharawi people of their right to self-determination through a free, democratic and transparent referendum is capable of putting an end both the suffering endured by the Saharawi people for three decades and instability in the region. (SPS)

14.08.03
Release of Moroccan prisoners of war
The Polisario Front announces that it has decided on the unilateral release of 243 Moroccan prisoners of war at the request of the head of the Spanish government, José Maria Aznar. The Polisario Front recalls on this occasion "the ordeal of Saharawi political detainees and prisoners of war in Morocco".
The
list of those released is published on the site of the Sahara Press Service.
The Moroccan prisoners of war will be repatriated to their country on 1 September through the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Spanish Red Cross. (SPS)

26.08.03
Diplomacy
Mohamed Yeslem Beissat, Polisario representative in South Africa, appointed ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of SADR in Algeria, has presented his credentials to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Belkhadem.

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

01.08.03
US military base?
General Jeffrey B. Kohler from the American Air Force visited Morocco in July to discuss with the senior officers of the Moroccan army technical details of the opening of an American military base, which could be situated in Western Sahara in the region of Dakhla. This project, according to a Moroccan weekly, is already well advanced and will be finalised during the visit of Mohamed VI to Washington due to take place at the end of 2003.

11.08.03
Letter to the Rafto Foundation
Saharawi political prisoners and imprisoned human rights activists sent an open letter to the Rafto Foundation, which last year awarded its human rights prize to Mohamed Daddach. They ask it to take on coordinating an international campaign for human rights in Western Sahara, jointly with other NGOs, in order to obtain the release of Saharawi political prisoners, to shed light on the fate of the disappeared, to put pressure on the Moroccan authorities to improve the conditions of detention of political prisoners and to give moral and financial support to the families of Saharawi prisoners and disappeared.(full text
english BIRDHSO web)

14.08.03
Letter to Spain
Saharawi political prisoners and human rights activists held in the "black prison" of El Ayoun send an open letter to King Juan Carlos, to Spanish civil society and to the people, the government and institutions. After a long speech on the disappointing development of the peace process and on the violation of fundamental rights in Morocco, the occupying power in Western Sahara, the authors appeal to Spain, since Morocco is not respecting international law, to assume its responsibility as an administrative power and to "protect the legitimate rights of the Saharawi people", as the young King declared he would in El Ayoun on 2 November 1975. (full text
Spanish)

22.08.03
Release of political prisoners at the end of their sentence
Mohamed Nigrou, released after having served his sentence, statement:
On the occasion of my release on Friday morning 22 August 2003 at 9 o'clock, after having served a complete year's imprisonment, I take this opportunity to congratulate all the international and Moroccan human rights organisations and all democrats who supported me during my experience of detention, without forgetting the big efforts provided by the "Action Committee for the release of Tamek Ali Salem and all Saharawi political detainees". By drawing attention to the inhuman conditions in which Saharawi political detainees are held in Moroccan prisonsm which contradict the minimal norms for the treatment of detainees, I launch a solemn appeal to all people of good will to start an international campaign on Saharawi disappeared and the release of all Saharawi political detainees.
Mohammed NIGROU, Political detainee released from Ait Melloul prison, N° d'écrou 1120

Hammadi Abdelah Belaoui, born in 1972, arrested on 23 August 2002 in El Ayoun in the same circumstances as Nigrou and sentenced during the same trial, was also released on 22.08.03 at 10 am from the black prison of El Ayoun. He was led away by inspectors of the Moroccan police to the central police station where he was informed of a measure of banishment for five years from the region of El Ayoun. This additional punishment had not been confirmed during the appeal. Protesting against this injustice, Belaoui received the reply that there were orders from above... .

REFERENDUM

07.08.03
The United Nations Secretary General has appointed Alvaro de Soto (Peru) as the new special representative for Western Sahara. Mr de Soto, a man from the UN stable, was key adviser for Cyprus from 1999 after having served in various capacities in the Secretary-General's office over 13 years.

20.08.03
King's speech
On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the "Revolution of the King and the People", which commemorates the deportation in 1953 of King Mohamed V by the French authorities, Mohamed VI declares in a speech that "the preservation of our territorial integrity remains for us an imperative duty". He accuses Algeria, without naming it, of having "disguised the fact that it is the real adversary" and of wishing to establish, "through the separatists pawns (Polisario Front) "a total hegemony over all our southern provinces". He claims that "Morocco remains open to any constructive and frank dialogue to settle the problem within the context of the preservation of our territorial integrity and our national sovereignty, over which we will never accept, and I mean never, any bargaining."

24.08.03
Reaction
The Moroccan government should be penalised for its "flagrant violation" of international law, the Saharawi government considers, in a statement calling the international community to impose on Rabat the implementation of Security Council resolutions. The Saharawi government considers that the King of Morocco has "categorically rejected" the latest resolution of the Security Council (1495/ 2003), which "constitutes an act of defiance to the international community", the communiqué stresses. (SPS)

29.08.03
Japan
In May last over thirty Japanese citizens and NGOs sent an
open letter to the government, asking for SADR to be invited to the 3rd TICAD (Tokyo International Conference on African Development) on the same basis as other African countries, including Morocco. (see week 20/2003) The reply by a head of section in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs not having satisfied them, the same signatories sent a new letter in which they stress the fact that SADR is part of the African Union and should on that basis be invited to participate in a conference treating the major problems concerning the African continent. The letter also criticises the Japanese government for having a passive attitude and asks it to take advantage of the TICAD to push forward a settlement of the conflict giving respect for the right to self-determination. The friends of the Saharawi people are called to participate in the action and to send in their turn a letter along the same lines to the Japanese government.

30.08.1988 - 30.08.2003
Fifteen years ago, Morocco and the Polisario Front accepted the peace plan put forward by the UN Secretary General.

HUMAN RIGHTS

07.08.03
Expulsion
Afifa Karmous and Pauline Dubuisson, from France Libertés, travelling to Morocco to meet former Moroccan prisoners of war released from the camps in Tindouf in order to complete their mission of investigation, were turned back at Rabat airport, with no explanation and without delay. They had also asked to visit Ali Mrabet and Ali Salem Tamek, both prisoners of opinion.

14.08.03
Prisoners of war
France Libertés published the report of its international mission of inquiry from 11 to 25 April 2003 into the conditions of detention of the Moroccan prisoners of war held by the Polisario Front. The testimonies of over 300 prisoners are reported. Pointing out the inhuman and degrading conditions, forced labour, tortures etc, the human rights NGO calls on the Polisario Front to release immediately all Moroccan prisoners of war, and recommends that while they are waiting their conditions of detention should be improved and the responsibilities should be investigated . It recommends that Morocco should bring to justice those responsible, among former Polisario Front members now defected to Morocco, guilty of war crimes and to shed light on the circumstances of forced disappearances of civilian and military Saharawis.
France Libertés finally announces it will suspend its aid projects in the Saharawi refugee camps until the release of all the prisoners.(>>
documents, reactions, opinions)

20.08.03
Denial
In a statement, the Polisario Front representation in France calls the accusations in France Libertés' report "gratuitous and partial", and announces the publication, in the near future, of a detailed response.

SOLIDARITY

30.08.03
Australia
On the occasion of its 3rd annual general meeting the Australia Western Sahara Association renewed its support for the Saharawi people, it welcomes the decision of the UN to continue working for a peaceful solution to the conflict, it deplores the categorical refusal of the referendum by Morocco and calls for pressure to be applied to put an end to its defiance of international law, it asks the UN and the Australian government to do their utmost to enable the Saharawi people to freely choose their future. They also draw attention to the dire human rights abuses in the territories occupied by Morocco and call on the UN to mandate MINURSO to monitor the human rights situation in the occupied territories.(
full text )

30.08.03
International Day of the Disappeared
On the occasion of the international day of the disappeared Amnesty International is launching an English language website on "disappearances" :
http://www.web.amnesty.org/mavp/av.nsf/pages/dofd
Information on "disappearances" in Morocco & Western Sahara can be accessed directly via:
http://www.web.amnesty.org/mavp/av.nsf/pages/MDE_dod#morocco

COMING UP

12 - 16.10.03
11th Congress of the Polisario Front.

INTERNET

Documents:

OPINIONS

Nuevo - Nuovo - New - Nouveau

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

Caratini Sophie 2003, La République des sables, Anthropologie d'une Révolution, L'Harmattan, Paris, 266 p.

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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