WESTERN SAHARA

NEWS

original french

NOVEMBER , WEEKS 45-47

02.11.-24.11.2003

 

 

SADR

30.10.03
Appointments
Mansour Omar (former health minister) was appointed wali of El Ayoun,
Naama Joumani (former ambassador in Mozambique) wali of Ausserd,  Bouchraya Bayoun (outgoing Prime Minister) wali of Smara and Salem Lebsir (former chairman of the parliament) wali of Dakhla.
Abdelwedoud Mohamed Oumar was appointed general secretary in the Ministry of Justice and Moustapha Mohamed Fadel takes up the same post in the Ministry of Culture.
Elsewhere, the Head of State appointed Brahim Mokhtar, director of protocol, Abeida Cheikh, director of 12 October School, Hameti Rabani, director of control and inspection services and Mohamed M'Barek Rahal, will be responsible for the referendum commission.
Concerning external relations appointments, Sadafa Bahia was designated head of the diplomatic mission in South Africa, he is replaced by Breica Lehbib as Ambassador of SADR in Ethiopia and with the African Union. Meanwhile he will be replaced in Great Britain by Ubbi Bouchraya. Ali Mahmoud will become representative in the Netherlands, and Edda Brahim Ehmeim will be ambassador in Mozambique. Bouhoubeini Yahya will direct the Saharawi Red Crescent replacing Boullahi Siid, who becomes Minister for Health.  (SPS)

29.10.03
Bad weather
Flooding rain fell on the region of Tindouf causing serious damage in the refugee camps. The Saharawi Red Crescent indicated "damaged tents, shelters destroyed, food shops, school, dispensaries, administrative centres all partially affected and food being stored outside partly rotting." It launched an appeal for aid for basic foodstuffs, blankets and construction materials. (SPS)

04.11.03
Panama
A Saharawi delegation took part in ceremonies celebrating the centenary of the Republic of Panama.

Release of Moroccan prisoners of war

06.11.03, Algiers
The President of the Republic, Mohamed Abdelaziz announced during a press conference in Algiers, in the presence of  Seif El Islam El Gueddafi, special envoy and eldest son of the Libyan president and chair of the El Gueddafi Foundation that the Polisario Front had decided to release 300 Moroccan prisoners of war as a humanitarian gesture on the occasion of ramadan and at the request of Colonel Gueddafi.
The Saharawi leader underlined the continual concern of his organisation to make sure all Moroccan prisoners of war receive humane treatment, "despite the difficult conditions endured by the Saharawi people, from the lack of resources and the absence of a rapid, just and lasting solution to the question". He let it be known that the Polisario Front "is waiting for a similar gesture by the Moroccan government, which is still holding 150 prisoners of war and over 500 Saharawi civilians are detained or disappeared". He asked the president of the El Gueddafi Foundation to intervene with Morocco for their liberation, making it clear that the Moroccan government had not taken an initiative on the matter since the release in 1996 of 66 Saharawi prisoners of war. The Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika had talks earlier with the President of SADR and received Seif El Islam El Gueddafi, special envoy of Mouamar El Gueddafi. He then offered a dinner in honour of his two guests, in the presence of presidents of the Senate and the Parliament, the Head of Government, the Minister of the Interior, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Deputy Minister responsible for African and Maghreb Affairs.

07.11.03  Smara camp
The population of the wilaya of Smara gave a warm welcome to the president of the El Gueddafi Foundation. The 300 Moroccan prisoners were handed over to him at the military school, Chahid Ammi by the Saharawi Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, in the presence of a delegation from the ICRC, whose delegate welcomed this new initiative and referred to the 150 Saharawi prisoners of war and the 500 civilians held in Morocco.

The representative of the Saharawi Red Crescent hoped that their release "would strike a chord with the Moroccan authorities and get them to shed light on the fate of the Saharawi disappeared in Morocco". The representative of the El Gueddafi Foundation expressed the hope "this conflict should cease and put an end to this humanitarian tragedy". The repatriation, deferred for logistical reasons, took place the next day on 8.11.03. The prisoners were repatriated by plane to Agadir. (Very wide media coverage)

16.11.03
President Mohamed Abdelaziz received the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, in post since 5 August last, the Peruvian Alvaro de Soto. Bearing a message from Kofi Annan to the Saharawi President, Mr Alvaro made clear that he had come "to make contact with the parties to the conflict as well as with the parties concerned with it, namely, Algeria and Mauritania". In his message, Mr Annan declared himself "satisfied" with the cooperation of the Saharawi party with the UN, adding that his organisation would not spare any efforts to bring peace to the Western Sahara "on the basis of the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination." ... "The Security Council and the UN are waiting for the end of the two month deadline given to Morocco to give its response, before pronouncing again on the question", he added.

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

29.10.03
Oil
Morocco has prolonged by one year the oil reconnaissance mandate of the American company Kerr McGee, in order to evaluate the results of its seismic studies presented by the Norwegian firm TGS-NOPEC.

10.11.03
Oil
The company Fusion Oil and Gas, UK/Australia, presented to the Saharawi government the results of its geophysical analyses concerning petrol deposits off-shore from Western Sahara, which confirm the probable presence of a viable off-shore petroleum system. According to its technical director Jonathan Taylor, further investigations would be worthwhile. Fusion could call for exploration license applications which would begin when the UN had determined the future status of the territory.(Platts Commodity News, London)

9 et 10.11.03
Smara: Escape attempts
Two groups of five young people were arrested by the Royal Armed Forces in the neighbourhood of Smara while they were trying to get to the Saharawi refugee camps in Algeria. These youths aged from 11 to 13 years, were presented separately to the magistrate's court in Smara. They were released but their papers were kept by the King's Public Prosecuter to put pressure on them and their families.

14.11.03
Intimidation
Mohamed Daddach and Hmad Hammad were questioned when they were driving around in the latter's car in the town of El Ayoun at night. The car was meticulously searched, the occupants threatened and insulted. Another Saharawi, who had stopped his car from curiosity, underwent the same treatment. The policemen made it known that this search had been ordered by their superiors for security reasons.

15.11.03
El Ayoun
Saharawi political detainees locked up in the Black Prison of El Ayoun received a visit from a commission from the Consultative Council on Human Rights (CCDH, belonging to the government), which had already visited Tamek and Nassiri in Ait Melloul. Members of the commission heard their claims and promised to transmit their demands to the appropriate bodies.

MOROCCO

12.11.03
Morocco decided to put in place a commission of "equity and reconciliation" charged with "pursuing the extra-judicial settlement of past human rights abuses linked to forced disappearances and arbitrary detentions and to complete the process of fair and just rehabilitation of the victims". The body has excluded from its terms of reference all possibility of appeal to justice to punish the alleged perpetrators of these abuses.
The principle independent human rights associations in Morocco have been demanding since November 2002, for their part, the creation of a "justice and truth" body independent of public powers. It's objective would be to establish the truth on the "years of lead" from 1956 to 1999, to identify and rehabilitate the victims and to determine individual and institutional responsibilities in each case. For this purpose a monitoring committee made up of members of the AMDH, the OMDH and the FMVJ had been set up (with AFP).

In a document published by the weekly Tel Quel,  one of the best known barristers of the kingdom, Mr Abderrahim Berrada made no bones about it. He speaks about an "outrage" inflicted on the survivors of crimes of state, of an "affront" to the right to justice, "alone capable of allowing both to dress the wounds, to build memory by a real search for truth and finally, to allow grieving to take place without which no dignified reconciliation is conceivable". And the fiery lawyer concluded in his address to the CCDH, which wants to turn the page : "Are you not ashamed?" (Le Monde)

06.11.03
Royal speech on the occasion of the 28th anniversary of the Green March
"Morocco remains disposed to contribute fully in any political solution which is consensual, realistic and definitive, so long as it takes into account its legitimate right to preserve the sovereignty of the Kingdom, its national unity and its territorial integrity, respecting and applying democratic principles", the king reaffirmed.

19.11.03
USA-Morocco
The United States is not looking to "impose a solution" in Western Sahara, George Bush assures the King of Morocco in a letter published in Rabat. Prudently the American president did not commit himself any further. He indicates that he has taken note of Moroccan "concerns".

HUMAN RIGHTS

10.11.03
Arrests
Timglite Swaydi, a Saharawi student, was apprehended by the Moroccan police and transferred the same night to Inezgane prison near Agadir. He was presented to the king's public prosecutor in the court of appeal the next day and accused of propaganda in favour of the Polisario Front, of inciting violence and attacking the security of the Moroccan state. On 20 November, the magistrate's court in Agadir sentenced him to 3 years in prison and a fine of 5000 dirhams.

Swaydi is known for his commitment to human rights, he took part last year in the University of Agadir in the organisation of the road show revealing human rights abuses in Western Sahara.

Another Saharawi student, Hassan Lehbib El Houcine, known under the pseudonym of El Guarouj, was briefly arrested on 12 November.

In Assa, citizens, students and unemployed gathered on 12 November for a sit-in of solidarity with Swaydi, who comes from Assa. The forces of order intervened brutally to disperse the crowd. Many injured were counted among both demonstrators and forces of order. A young demonstrator called Daday was savagely beaten up by police. Reports include setting fire to tyres and official buildings.

Saharawi students organised sit-ins and peaceful marches inside campuses in Rabat, Marrakech and Agadir to obtain the release of the student and the end to the surrounding of university residences of Agadir where a dozen Saharawi students had taken refuge who were being hunted by police. On 17 November, over twenty Saharawi students from Agadir University, on hunger strike for 48 hours, were taken off to the central commisariat of Agadir of ill-repute (during the years of lead numerous Saharawis were transferred from there to secret jails such as Agdz or Kalaat M'Gouna).

16.11.03
Expelled for the offense of solidarity
Michèle Decaster and Michelle Bérard, activists from AFASPA (French Association of friendship and solidarity with the peoples of Africa) were turned back from Morocco upon their arrival at the airport of Agadir. They had intended visiting political prisoners
Ahmed Naciri and Alisalem Tamek held in Ait Melloul prison, and meeting students holding a sit-in and hunger strike in protest at the arrest of their comrade Timglite Swaydi. They had also the intention of visiting occupied Western Sahara and Assa, to meet families of disappeared Saharawis. Apprehended from the moment of their arrival they were not able to leave the international area of the airport and were sent back to France by the first plane the next day. (See  >>
communiqué du Comité d'action pour la libération de TAMEK Ali Salem et tous les détenus politiques sahraouis >>  communiqué BIRDHSO 19.11.03 >> communiqué AFASPA >> communiqué AARASD

To give oneself the idea of the situation of the Saharawi population in southern Morocco and in the territories under Moroccan control read the weekly TEL QUEL No 100, 09.11.03 and its special feature entitled: "Autonomy, Referendum... What the Saharawis think of it" (French). (see Publications)

11.11.03
Amnesty Mission in Morocco and Western Sahara
A delegation from Amnesty International has just returned from a research visit to Morocco/Western Sahara from 13 to 22 October, where they met victims of torture, families of victims, human rights defenders and lawyers. The delegation points out a significant increase in the number of cases of torture or bad treatment during the last two years, relating to alleged islamists and Saharawis arrested for their support for independence in Western Sahara. The delegation passed on their observations to the UN Committee against torture.(Amnesty International: Morocco/WS:
Amnesty International delegates to speak about sharp rise in torture in Morocco, Media Advisory, 11 Nov. 2003 - Morocco / Western Sahara: Briefing to the Committee against Torture (November 2003)(AI Index: 29/011/2003). HTML or PDF )

On 12, 13 and 20 November 2003, the Committee against Torture examined the case of Morocco and adopted conclusions and recommendations. Document CAT/C/CR/31/2. (French)

21.11.03
Creation of a committee of support for officials subjected to improper transfers
Representatives of political, trades union formations and from civil society have created a committee of solidarity with activists from the Sahara Section of the FVJ, of AMDH, the CDT, UMT, GSU, PADS, NAHJ-DIMOCRATI and the association ADL WA AL IHSSANE, mostly teachers, improperly transferred far from their homes and their relatives in the aim of empyting the Sahara region of all voices of contestation. (see news
36-39 and 40-44)

SOLIDARITY

27.10.03
Resolution from SAIH General Assembly
The Norwegian Students' and Academics' International Assistance Fund (SAIH) reiterates its support for the Saharawis in their struggle for self-determination

12-15.11.03
European social forum
Western Sahara present in a plenary titled "Western Sahara : permanency of the colonial issue in the Africa of today", with contributions of Mohamed Sidati, Pierre Galand (EUCOCO), lawyers, representative of AFAPREDESA, etc,  and a workshop  Western Sahara, a decolonisation issue. What are the prospects today ?

05-11.11.03
Vittoria
A delegation of the National Union of Saharawi Women took part in Vittoria in the Basque country in an international meeting with women from Spain, Latin America devoted to the role of women in the construction of their country.

COMING UP...

>> Agenda

22.11. - 02.12.03
Elections for the National Council, the Saharawi Parliament.

03.12.03
Opening of parliament in Tifariti.

02-03.12.03
The American Secretary of State Colin Powell will carry out a tour of the Maghreb (Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria).

Union of the Arab Maghreb
The Council of the presidency bringing together chiefs of state of the UAM will be held at the end of December in Algiers, the Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdelaziz Belkhadem announced.

La Asociación Provincial de Amistad con el Pueblo Saharaui de Sevilla lanza su campaña de huchas solidarias "Un euro para alimentos" con el fin de adquirir y enviar alimentos a los casi 200.000 refugiados saharauis que viven en la Hammada de Tindouf . Info: Tel. 954 282 205-954 274 104. Fax: 954 282 046. E mail: comunicación@saharasevilla.org

29th European Conference of Solidarity with the Saharawi People: 5, 6 et 7 décembre 2003, Info, contact: bur.aarasd@wanadoo.fr
>> Flyers, Programme and Pre-registering Formulas in PDF (
english)
CONFERENCE
PARIS SORBONNE/ AMPHI GEORGES LEFEBVRE / (accès cour d'honneur métro St Michel)
Samedi 6 Décembre 2003: 14 H 30 / 17 H 00
PROGRAMME

 Org.: Association des Amis de la RASD / EUCOCO 2003
BP 251 75227 Paris CEDEX 05 / bur.aarasd@wanadoo.fr

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