WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS - WEEKS 11-12

07.03.-20.03.2004

original french

SADR

06-07.03.04
Mr. Khalil Sidi M'hamed, Minister for the occupied territories of SADR, took part in the extraordinary Congress of the Swiss Socialist Party in Basle.

08.03.04
National conference
The representatives of the various Saharawi media, newspapers, radio, news wire and television met for a two-day national conference devoted to the improvement of the quality of their work and the diffusion of information. The conference underlined that professionals "should continue to conform to the ethics and norms of the profession, and to keep away from propaganda, so as to produce credible reports". The conference adopted statutes for National Mass Medias and a code of conduct for journalists, inspired by these principles.
The conference addressed a message of congratulations to the Algerian press and a special motion to the Association for a fair and free Referendum in Western Sahara (ARSO), for "the selfless courage of its members who never failed in the mission of informing public opinion on the conflict from its start." It also congratulated the Basque committee of support for its technical aid for the National Radio and the newspaper "Sahara Libre". (SPS)

11.03.04
Spain
Mohamed Abdelaziz presented to King Juan Carlos of Spain and to the Prime Minister his condolences after the terrorist attacks of Madrid. (SPS)

14.03.04
Spain
The president of the SADR congratulated Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero on the victory of the PSOE in the elections. He declared himself convinced that the new Spanish government will not haggle over the means to allow the Saharawi people to exert their right to self-determination. (agency)

15.03.04
Military operations
The Saharawi Popular Army proceeded at Mijek (400 km south-eastern of El Ayoun) with military operations, involving armoured units, heavy artillery, DCA and mechanized infantry. Five grouping tactics simulated an attack against a fictitious enemy, sheltered behind a defensive sand wall full of mines and barbed wire. These operations proceeded in the presence of many members of the Saharawi community in Mauritania, which organized a conference on the fringe of the military activities.(SPS)

18.03.04
African union
The Panafrican Parliament, body of the African Union (AU) composed of 180 members, was officially installed in Addis Ababa. The members of the Parliament represent the 36 countries (among the 53 Member States of the AU) which already signed the constitutive protocol of the Parliament. The SADR is represented by the ladies Soueilma Beirouk and Mamia Mohamed Habib and by Mr Weddadi Mohamed El Heiba, Brahim Salem Zroug and Salha El Abd, selected according to three criteria: equal opportunities between man and woman, parliamentary experience and proficiency in foreign languages. During its first five years of existence, the Parliament will have advisory capacities. It will be equipped in the long term with full legislative powers.

REFERENDUM

08.03.04
Qatar
During the visit of the crown prince of Qatar, Sheik Tamim Ben Hamad Al Thani in France, the Foreign Minister Jassem Ben Hamad Ben Jaber, who accompanied him, answering questions in French indicated that his country will go to the end in its contribution to the solution of the problem of the Western Sahara (...) For him, the problem of the Sahara is the priority of priorities at the present time. (Gazette du Maroc)

10.03.04
European Parliament
The parliamentary group "Peace for the Sahraoui People", following the visit of its president to the refugee camps, underlines the serious deficiencies in humanitarian assistance and particularly in medical and health supplies suffered at the moment by the Saharawi refugees. In itsofficial statement it calls for urgent help and expresses its concern about the alarming situation of the Saharawi human rights defenders under Moroccan military control. The MEPs also expressed their will to increase their activities in the next parliament. (
press release)

CONFIDENCE BUILDING MEASURES - FAMILY VISITS
19.03.04
The exchanges of visits between Saharawi families continue. A second group of 24 people on the two sides of the wall stayed from the 12 to March 17 in El Ayoun and Tindouf respectively, and a new group left on19th. In its last official statement, the HCR announces that more than 7' 000 people were registered to take part in the weekly flights. This number greatly exceeds the forecasts. Priority is given to the most acute cases, like serious illness of a close relation or children separated from their parents. For latest information, press, etc, see
special page .

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

08.03.04
Prisons
219 Saharawi prisoners, common law and political, imprisoned in six prisons in Western Sahara and Morocco, observed a hunger strike on March 8 and 9 to protest against their conditions of detention. They ask for a board of inquiry and to be able to receive visits of their relatives within the framework of the UN HCR program of the HCR. (
Comunicado de los presos políticos y comunes saharauis , AFAPREDESA )(Letters from Inside a Moroccan Prison >)

08.03.04
Dakhla
Police forces dispersed a sit-in organized outside the town hall of the wilaya of Dakhla to claim various social rights like the right to work and the right to housing. During a brutal intervention a Saharawi citizen, Mohamed Fadel Sidiya Baray was arrested. His sister, who tried to intervene, was seriously wounded after being attached to a police car and dragged 50 meters.( AFAPREDESA, 10.03.04,
french )

12.03.04
El Ayoun
"The national Trade union of the Moroccan press, section of El Ayoun, condemns the attack on the photographer Abdelilah Mouzahim by a central police chief associated to El Ayoun, the attack took place while the photographer was trying to cover the arrival of the Saharawi families last weekend." (Aujourdhui Le Maroc)

16.03.04
Two brothers, Ali Baiba Fakou ould Hammoudi ould Farraji and Ali Baiba Haje were arrested at a police checkpoint for an unknown reason. They are imprisoned in the prison of El Ayoun.

HUMAN RIGHTS

05.03.04
Casablanca
On occasion of a meeting organized by a Moroccan women's NGO in collaboration with the human rights organizations AMDH and OMDH for international women's day, the former disappeared and detained Saharawi woman Aminatou Haidar testified to the repression and intimidations people have to face from Moroccan authorities in occupied Western Sahara. She reproached the press and the Moroccan parties for their silence. The organizing committee gave Aminatou a gift and promised to visit her and the Saharawi victims of human rights violations by the Moroccan regime. (
Report)

SOLIDARITY

05.03.04
France
People met in Vitry-sur-Seine (near Paris) with the goal of reconstituting the Committee of the Vallée de la Marne of the Association of the Friends of the SADR, which had slowed down its activities for several years.

12.03.04
Luxembourg
Establishment of a committee of support for the Saharawi people in Luxembourg.

COMING UP...

The president of SADR Mohamed Abdelaziz will accomplish a visit to the USA. On March 26 he will speak about the latest Developments on Western Sahara at a lunch organized by the Defense Foundation Forum and the Congressional Defense and Foreign Policy Forum.

Festival du film de Fribourg, Suisse: en concours le long métrage de Pedro Rosado, Cuentos de guerra saharaui.
Projections : 23 mars 2004, Cinema Corso 1, 20h30,
25 mars 2004, Cinema Rex 1, 18h15 ,
28 mars 2004, Cinema Alpha, 21h00

Pisa, Italia, Lunedi 29 marzo, Ore 16.00, Sala del Comuni, Via Silvio Pellico, "Il tè nel deserto", Viaggio nell'universo femminile saharawi, Interv.: Umberto Romano, Fatima Mahfoud.

22-25.04.04 Tifariti (liberated territories of SADR)
International march to the wall of shame in Western Sahara
See
Information, program, (at the moment only in Spanish)

18-20.05.04
Vth Congress of the General Union of the Workers of Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro (UGTSARIO).

INTERNET

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

Français

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

NOUVEAU LIVRE

SAHRAOUIS : EXILS - IDENTITE
Histoire d'exils: Les jeunes Sahraouis, Annaïg Abjean.
L'identité sahraouie en question, Zahra Julien.
Préface de Sophie Caratini
Hors Série No 3, L'Ouest saharien, L'Harmattan, Paris, 2004, 238 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 en Sahara-Info, lista de correo (castellano y francés): http://es.groups.yahoo.com/group/sahara-info/messages

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