WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS - WEEKS 13-14

21.03.-03.04.2004

original french

SADR

Mohamed Abdelaziz visits the USA
24.03.04
The President of the SADR met the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the UN headquarters in New York. Abdelaziz recalled the POLISARIO Front's total cooperation with the Security Council and with the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy, and deplored Morocco's obstructionism. Annan reaffirmed the UN's commitment to spare no effort to hasten the coming of a just and definitive solution to the Western Sahara conflict confirming to UN resolutions.

30.03.04
Mohamed Abdelaziz met James Baker, Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General to Western Sahara, in Houston
Note: the mandate of MINURSO was prolonged until April 30th to permit Baker to hold new consultations with Morocco, from whom the UN is awaiting a response.

In a declaration made in New York to the Spanish press, the Saharawi president discussed the relationship between the attacks in Madrid and the terrorist trails leading to Madrid. He regretted that Morocco has become known as a country which "exports drugs and international terrorism to the world", a consequence of "the absence of democracy and the serious economic crisis that the Moroccan people are living through". (EFE 25.03.04)

26.03.04 During a lunch organised in Washington by the Defense Forum Foundation, and the Congressional & Foreign Policy Forum, as well as US parliamentarians, Mr Abdelaziz spoke of the latest developments in Western Sahara.>> full text

27-30.03.04
The National Union of Saharawi Women held its 11th seminar, "Women and the Law", in the presence of guests and jurists from Arab nations (Algeria, Syria and Lebanon). Themes covered included: family law, the legal situation of Saharawi women in exile and under occupation, and the consequences of international conventions on women's situation. (SPS)

30-31.03.04
Prime Minister Abdelkader Taleb Oumar presided over a national conference for the reorganisation of public services. The creation of a salary scales and the grading and status of posts were the principle themes developed. The Secretary of State for Public Servants, Chaibani Abbas, also indicated that "co-operatives will shortly see the light of day to promote work in agricultural production, construction and various other areas."

REFERENDUM

26.03.04
Berlin
At a public conference entitled "Western Sahara, last colony in Africa", German NGOs launched a letter-writing action to the Foreign Ministry asking Germany, which holds the Security Council presidency during April, to work for the Baker plan to be put into place and to lead the other members, above all France, to play a constructive role in the search for a peaceful and lasting solution. (
Modell Brief an deutschen Aussenminister )

Confidence-building measures - family visits

02.04.04
The UNHCR announced its satisfaction with the progress of the visits between Saharawi families. From 9th April, weekly flights will take place between Dakhla and Tindouf, for around 4 weeks, before linking Smara, then Boujedor and then El Ayoun once again. More than 8500 people have now been registered. (UNHCR News) >>
special update page

SPAIN

01.04.04
The president of the European coordination of support for the Saharawi people, the Belgian senator Pierre Galand, addressed the future head of the Spanish government, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, to transmit his hope that the new Spanish government will firmly support the relevant UN resolutions, in order to bring about a just, peaceful and lasting solution to the Western Sahara conflict, based on the exercise of the Saharawi people's right to self-determination. >>
texto completo español

CINEMA

The public prize from the Freiburg Film Festival (Switzerland) was awarded to the Spanish film "Cuentos de la guerra sahraui" by Pedro Rosado. Based on a true story, that took place during the war, this film tells the destiy of a young Spanish legionary who took the Saharawis' side. He fought the Moroccan and Mauritanian invasion in 1975-6 side by side with the Saharawis.

The Sundance Institute Doc Fund has selected 11 features for its first round of grant funding. Chosen this year is, u.a., for Work in Progress grants, Shantha Bloemen & JoMarie Fecci's "Western Sahara, Africa's Last Colony".

HUMAN RIGHTS

27.03.04
Two Spanish jurists, representatives of the Spanish Human Rights Observatory who had followed several trials of Saharawi activists, visited Ali Salem Tamek in Assa. Tamek, accompanied by the ex-disappeared Brahim Dahane, and in the presence of several Saharawi ex-political prisoners, discussed with his guests the various forms of punishments and intimidation perpetrated by the Moroccan authorities against Saharawi human rights defenders. He mentioned the hysterical media campaign currently being run by the Moroccan press against him and Saharawi human rights defenders, the confiscation and denial of passports, the daily reprisals, as well as violations of the human rights of civilians in occupied Western Sahara. During the discussions - which lasted for over 8 hours - the Moroccan security forces surrounded Tamek's house. (corr.)

UN - 60th session of the Commission on Human Rights, Geneva, 16th March-26th April 2004

The question of Human Rights abuses in the occupied Western sahara was raised at various points in the agenda, in the form of written reports and oral interventions, during the treatment of questions of: the right to self-determination; of racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia; of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments and treatment.
See the reports and interventions of: LIDLIP, France Libertés, ISMUN, IUSY, Federación de Asociaciones de Defensa y Promoción de Derechos Humanos, African Society of international and comparative law, General Arab Women Federation, International Association Against Torture, Women's International Leaugue for Peace and Freedom, etc. See
special page .

An appeal entitled "SOS" was addressed to the Commssion by the Collective of Human Rights Defenders - Territory of Western Sahara under Moroccan control (english)

SOLIDARITY

28.03.04
Danish Peace Movement supports the legitimate right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and independence.
Sponsored by the Peace Movement in Aalborg, a demonstration was organised in which a stand on Western Sahara was erected as part of the platform designed for on-going conflicts in the world. The visitors of the stand were briefed on the different aspects of the conflict in Western Sahara, particularly the latest developments related to the UN endeavours to reach a peaceful, just and democratic solution to the conflict. Many participants in the demonstration expressed their support to the legitimate right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and independence, while denouncing Morocco's illegal occupation of parts of Western Sahara as well as the Moroccan "wall of shame" that was described as a dreadful crime against humanity.

02.04.04
Radioforpeace
Italy - Bologna: Independent radio at the service of Saharawi refugees "Radioforpeace" will broadcast on short wave to the Saharawi refugee camps from April 2nd, in Arabic, Spanish and Italian. This is a project of COSPE, an independent radio station in Bologna, Emilia-Romagna region, in collaboration with young Saharwai students in Bologna and Saharawi national radio, to transmit news to Saharawis in the camps, but also information on the camps for Europe and occupied territories. Goals: Improvement of the flow of information on the practical aspects of life and on development and aid projects, contacts between families in the camps, the Occupied Territories and the diaspora, NGOs, etc.
Every Friday from 13.00 to 14.00 (summer time, Europe), on Short Wave 15.665KhZ,from 12.00 - 13.00 in the refugee camps and 11.oo-12.00 in the Western Sahara under Moroccan controle.

COMING UP...

April  15, Amsterdam, Royal Institute for Tropical Affairs : presentation of the political travelbook from publishing house Bulaaq, Africa's last colony, travelling through the Western Sahara (in Dutch) from Nicolien Zuijdgeest, journalist, with film and debate. >> see more details

Saharawi Music: Groupe Mariem Hassan: 28.05.04: Afro-Pfingsten-Festival Winterthur, Suisse

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