WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 35 - 36 : 22.08. - 04.09.2004

original french

SADR

23.08.04
El-Khalil Ould Sidi Mohamed, Saharawi minister for the Occupied Territories and Colonies abroad sent a "message of friendship and solidarity" from the President of SADR to the Mauritanian President, Maaouiya Ould Taya. This message concerns the "strengthening of bilateral relations (between the two countries) and the latest developments in the situation" in SADR. [AFP]

30.08.04 - 02.09.04
Trip
The President of SADR embarked on a trip to Latin America. During the first stopover in Venezuela on 30 August, the delegation which comprises Mahfoudh Ali Beiba, President of the National Council, Ahmedou Soueilem, minister counselor to the Presidency as well as ambassadors Ahmed Moulaye Ali (Mexico) and Mr El Haj Ahmed (Venezuela), were received by the Venezuelan Vice-President, José Vecente Rangel, who reiterated his support for the people and government of Venezuela for the Peace Plan for self-determination of the Saharawi people.

Second stage: Panama
The Saharawi delegation was invited to the swearing-in ceremony of the new Panamian president, Martin Torrijos, on 1 September. During a meeting with the Saharawi leader, Torrijos reiterated "the determination of the new Government to remain faithful to the heritage of the General Omar Torrijos (father of the newly elected president) on the right to independence of the Saharawi people and to consolidate bilateral relations between the two peoples". For his part, Mr Abdelaziz applauded "the loyalty with which the people and successive Panamanian governments have defended the right to independence of the Saharawi people since Panama recognised SADR in 1978". At the end of the investiture ceremony, Mr Abdelaziz called on Latin America to play a more active role and expressed the thought that "this is the right moment for Central America through the establishment of diplomatic relations with SADR, to reject the intransigent attitude of Morocco towards Western Sahara.

Third Stage: Venezuela
Having arrived in Caracas on 2 September, Mohamed Abdelaziz was received the next day by the President of the Bolivarian Republic, Hugo Chavez Frias. The two heads of state discussed recent developments in the question of Western Sahara and bilateral relations between the two countries. Chavez presented the Saharawi president with a replica of the sword of Simon Bolivar, "as a symbol of the friendship between our two countries, of the brotherhood which unites our two peoples and of the struggle that the liberator (Simon Bolivar) led for independence and against colonialism, Mr Chavez emphasised.
For his part, the President of the Saharawi Republic gave his host a general's baton of Saharawi craftsmanship, "in recognition of the charisma and wisdow which you embody", he underlined.
At the end of the talks, Mr Chavez expressed his "concern" at the refusal of Morocco to comply with international law, affirming that his country "will from now on raise its voice in support of the Saharawi cause". He exhorted the Kingdom of Morocco to "abide by the resolutions of the Security Council". On the other hand, the Bolivarian Head of State condemned the Moroccan wall of shame and called on the international community for firm and consistant support from the United Nations to impose the respect of the resolutions of the Security Council and to adopt the path of self-determination for the Saharawi people again". Mr Chavez assured furthermore that his government would conduct a diplomatic offensive at international level in Latin America, Africa and the countries of OPEP and Asia side by side with our friends from around the world", so as "peace is protected by justice" and not imposed  "by walls, anti-personnel mines and occupying troops. We must continue to say no to Moroccan imperialism and colonialism in Western Sahara, he added. [SPS][
MONOGRÁFICO R.A.S.D.-VENEZUELA, Selección de prensa, 4-09-2.004]

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

22.08.04
Police violence in occupied El Ayoun http://alisalemtamek.site.voila.fr/NI230804.html#fr
Plain clothes policemen in a drunken state entered at night into the house of a former Saharawi political prisoner, Bachir Seicri. Seicri had been imprisoned for 3 months in the Black Prison of El Ayoun for having tried to join the ranks of the Polisario Front last Ramadan. The family gave so much opposition to the new arrest, that the police needed to call for reinforcements. The family was badly treated, hit, tortured and insulted. As a result of these attacks, the mother of Seicri Fatimetu Ebleila as well as her daughter, Emneia Seicri were seriously injured. The incidents degenerated into confrontations with a large number of neighbours who ran in to be at the trouble spot. [corr.] [
Communiqué de l'Union des Juristes Sahraouis, 24.08.04]

23.08.04
Arrest and summary sentence
A young Saharawi Mahmoud El Mustapha Haddad, born in El Ayoun in 1982, in the night of 18 August replaced the Moroccan flag with the national Saharawi flag in the city of Eskeikima. He was immediately arrested by a dozen men in plain clothes belonging to the Moroccan police. He was tortured before being taken off in an unmarked vehicle to the judicial police, where he was subjected, over 72 hours, to all sorts of torture: cigarette burns, blows to every part of the body, etc. He was obliged to sign a "prefabricated" confession before being transferred to the Black Prison of El Ayoun on 20 August. On 23, in the course of the summary sentencing in the absence of his lawyer and family, he was sentenced to 8 months in prison and a fine of 5,000 dirhams. Reason given: attack on the sacred principles of the state and affray with the forces of order.
His mother, Fatma Hiba, tried to lodge a complaint with the prosecutor general in the town of El Ayoun, protesting about the conditions of the arrest of her son and the torture undergone. The public prosecutor refused to register the complaint. The family will appeal against the sentence.  [corr.] [
Comunicado AFAPREDESA y UJS 25.08.04] [Press release AFAPREDESA and USJ, 25.08.04]

02.09.04
Appeal
Political prisoners in the Black Prison of El Ayoun in a statement, condemn the exactions exercised by the Moroccan state against the Saharawi population in the occupied territories, in particular the systematic practice of torture and other inhumane forms of treatment and summary justice, quoting the case of Mahmud Mustafa Haddad (see above) or that of the Saharawi citizen Mohamed ould Chia from Dakhla, sentenced to 4 months in prison after having been savagely tortured by the police inspector, known as Bouchaib.
They launch an urgent appeal to the international community and in particular to human rights organisations to apply the necessary pressure on the Kingdom of Morocco to abide by the provisions of the human rights conventions which it has ratified. [
Press release] [Communiqué] [Comunicado] [Árabe]

REFERENDUM

19.08.04
Declaration
The Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Mohamed Benaissa, affirmed in an interview published by the Moroccan daily "Assabah", that "any negotiation with the Polisario would lead to the balkanisation of Africa and that Morocco could not undertake an action which could encourage 'secessionist' movements because Polisario is not the only one." Benaissa indicated that in Africa there are other secessionist movements such as the Casamance movement in Senegal and separatist movements in the Sudan. Morocco pleads for union and cohesion, Benaissa said, continuing with "any meeting or encounter with some separatist movement would signify in fact a recognition of that separation".

01.09.04
Family visits
The visits between Saharawi families separated on the two sides of the "wall of shame" finished at the end of August. From 5 March until 31 August some 800 people have been able to take advantage of the weekly flights linking Tindouf with El Ayoun, Dakhla, Smara and Boujdour, while 18,000 people figure on the waiting lists. The Saharawi coordinator with MINURSO, Mohamed Khaddad, called for an extension of the program so that a greater number of Saharawis could profit from it. He also criticised the way Morocco had hampered this humanitarian operation. The UNHCR declared itself ready to continue the action, which is part of the confidence-building measures figuring in the UN Peace Plan, if the finance is made available. [SPS]

03.09.04
UN
The Special Representative for Western Sahara, Alvaro de Soto, will meet the King of Morocco and high-ranking Moroccan officials on 6 and 7 September next in Rabat, and the Saharawi President on 12 September.[UN News]

MOROCCO

28.08.04
Saharawi Activism
Goulimine, a town in southern Morocco with a large Saharawi population, was the theatre of a lightening strike by Saharawi independence activists.
When, early in the morning, the first inhabitants arrived at the weekly souk, known as the AMHAYRICH souk, they found themselves surrounded by an unusual decoration: everywhere in the souk there were SADR flags flying.
The local authorities intervened rapidly to gather up these flags and prevent other inhabitants from getting to the place. After this operation of collection, a police barrage was set up at the entrance to the souk to search inhabitants who were going there, especially young people among them.
This weekly souk (market) has been taking place every Saturday for ever. For the town of Goulimine and the whole region it is the commercial meeting place where the population stock up with vegetables and fresh produce and where also camels and goats are sold. In Goulimine and in surrounding oases such as Tighmert or Asrir, there are many Saharawis and many feel themselves to be discriminated against. One will recall again the lively reactions and demonstrations which took place in April of this year following the death of a young Saharawi Chouihi Slimane, who died from torture undergone at the Centre for the Royal Gendarmerie in Goulimine.[>>
complete story]

01.09.04
Price increase for liquid petrol and oil products in occupied Sahara
A recent price increase on the sale of liquid petrol and oil products has affected the territory of Western Sahara, on the same basis as Morocco. As an example, a litre of petrol is sold in the occupied zone for 4.75DH as opposed to 9.35DH in the Kingdom. This action marks the beginning of the normalisation of prices in the zone which has benefited for a long time from special treatment. Furthermore, a staggered increase in petrol products looks like being started in order to bring them into line with the prices operating in Morocco.

COMING UP...

30 Conferencia EUCOCO - 30ème Conférence EUCOCO - 30th EUCOCO Conference: Zaragoza (Spain), 26, 27 and the 28 of November 2004.

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