WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 47-48 : 14.11.-28.11.2004

original french

 

SADR

2.11.04
The President of the Saharawi Republic receives the American Senator, James M. Inhofe (Republican Oklahoma), who chairs the Committee for the Environment and Public Works in the Senate and is a member of the Committees for Armed Services and Native American Affairs. [SPS]

16.11.04
A centre for training for public office is inaugurated in the Saharawi refugee camps by the Prime Minister, in the presence of a representative from the Basque Institute for Public Administration, members of the Saharawi authorities and Basque NGOs funding the project. The centre is named after Juan Antonio Gonzalez Caraballo, a Spanish doctor who devoted a large part of his work to solidarity with the Saharawi people and who lost his life in a traffic accident in the Saharawi refugee camps.[SPS]

15-16.11.04
The Secretary General of the Socialist Internationale, Luis Ayala, affirms in a press conference, while the Council of his organisation was meeting on 15 and 16 November last in Johannesburg, that the position of the I.S. is "in accordance with the resolution [in favour of self-determination] adopted at the 22nd congress in Sao Paolo" in 2003. A Polisario Front delegation takes part in the session.

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

13.11.04, El Ayoun
El Kainan Hedi Sidahmed, a political prisoner N° écrou 24319 [see week
20/03], is forcibly transferred to an unknown place. He is maltreated in his cell by prison guards and four members of the Moroccan armed forces, who handcuff him. Some 250 people gather outside the prison for the whole night to support the prisoners who are protesting against the treatment inflicted on Keinan.

El Ayoun
Saharawi women organise a sit-in for four hours outside the office of daira number 6, to denounce their "marginalisation by Moroccan authorities", claiming their "right to accommodation". The demonstration was dispersed by Moroccan security forces, led by the pacha and the chief of police, who savagely destroyed some banners and arrested the director of the newspaper "Ouad Noun", who was taking photographs of the demonstration. [SPS]

Assa
Since 15.11.04, Saharawi university students from Assa and Zac (southern Morocco) have been organising an unlimited sit-in outside the transport agency, Supratour, which provides transport to areas not served by the train. After the 1999 uprising in El Ayoun, the Moroccan authorities decided to take charge of transport for Saharawi students, but which they stopped doing at the start of the present university year.
On 19 November, about 90 Saharawis took part in a sit-in with traditional tents outside the pacha's office. They want respect for their demands, jobs, solutions to their problems, not just police measures. Actions in solidarity have taken place in Smara, Tantan, Aouinet and Torkoz. Another big march of support for the unemployed was held on the evening of 19 as well as the next day, bringing together 1,500 people. Extra forces to maintain order were brought in along with soldiers from Tiznit and Bouizakarne. Seven young people threaten to start a hunger strike.
On 24 November new demonstrations took place. Four marches from different schools and colleges met in the square named Place Ali Salem Tamek to go together to the pachalik. As well as families of unemployed one could see councillors and parliamentarians among the protesters. In Tan-Tan a sit-in finished with arrests and some injuries. [
statements and reports]

17.11.04, Smara
The Committee of victims of events in Smara announces that 3 young Saharawis were arrested and tortured on 15.11.04 (eve of the 3rd anniversary of the 2001 uprising, [week
47/01]. [Communiqué with photos, 17.11.04]

International Campaign for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in Western Sahara
The Local committee of support for the campaign sends an
open letter to the European Parliament. (20.11.04)

REFERENDUM

15.11.04, Germany
Response of the Minister for Foreign Affairs to two questions on Western Sahara from the MP Siegfried Helias: "The situation is blocked since James Baker's departure". "Germany supports the efforts of the UN to find a peaceful solution, following its departure from the Security Council it is going to get more particularly involved in humanitarian questions".

20.11.04, Australia
The Australian Labor Party (Victoria), at its conference held in Melbourne, unanimously passed a motion supporting the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and independence .

MEDIA

The Moroccan journalist Ali Lmrabet, imprisoned in 2003 then pardoned, visited the Saharawi refugee camps. After the ban on his papers "Demain Magazine" and "Doumane", he is currently working for Spanish media. The interview he conducted with the President Mohamed Abdelaziz appeared in El Mundo le 14.11.04 . He talked about his own impressions of the trip in a press conference in Algiers and in the columns of El Watan.

The interview of Abdelaziz in brief:
Madrid's position: "equivocal and obscure". Alluding to "the incomprehensible comings and goings of Spanish diplomacy", Abdelaziz points out that, "one day, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs assures us it supports the Baker plan, the next day it says the opposite. One week it declares that the Baker plan is the right way to go and the next it talks of the need for adding adjustments".
The Saharawi President would like the Spanish government to be "sincere and clear" in its intention of supporting the organisation of a referendum of self-determination in Western Sahara and hopes for clarification during his forthcoming meeting with the Spanish head of state.
A propos the Baker plan, he is very firm: "for us the Baker plan is a package to take or leave. I cannot accept any "adjustment" nor any other provision which could alter it",
Recognition by South Africa, it is the attitude of the Moroccan officials which provoked it. "It is the present Moroccan government or more exactly the present king of Morocco and the group around him who are really responsible for the recognition of the Polisario by South Africa. They are the ones who moved off the track created by Hassan II since 1981 to organise a referendum of self-determination for the Saharawi people."
On the role of France: "The French government has an enormous responsibility for the changes going on today in the Maghreb. The hexagonal government supports with all its might the Moroccan position and it does so in contradiction with what it is defending on an international level. If the conflict continues, it's in part the fault of France and its support for the Moroccan regime. The day when France counsels Morocco - I'm not saying would force it - to negotiate a way out of the conflict, I assure you there will be important advances". [original
full text in Spanish ] [traduction française ]

In another interview on the eve of his meeting with the Spanish Prime Minister, Zapatero, the Saharawi leader was keen "to recall that Spain is the former colonizing power in Western Sahara. It remains, according to UN statutes, responsible for the successful decolonization of the territory. Spain owes it to the Saharawi people to discharge this historic debt." [El Watan, 25.11.04]

26.11.04, Madrid
The Spanish Prime Minister received Mohamed Abdelaziz, secretary general of the Polisario Front for an hour and a half at the office of the PSOE. This first encounter at this level was described as constructive and cordial. The two parties will maintain permanent contact and Madrid has declared itself ready to play the role of "facilitator" between the Polisario and Morocco, to reach an agreement within the UN framework. [agencies]
The SADR President will continue his visit to different regions of Spain and will meet the leaders of the Popular Party, PP and United Left, Izquierda Unida, IU. He is taking part in the 30th European Conference of support to the Saharawi people in Saragossa.(26-28.11.04)

26.11.04, Saragossa
Opening of the 30th European Conference of Support for the Saharawi people in the presence of 500 delegates from Europe and parliamentarians and well-known figures from different regions of the world and SADR president Abdelaziz. [More information on the
special web page and in the next edition of the news]

MOROCCO

09.11.04
Parliamentary debate
Fever among Moroccan officials and political parties. The Minister for Communication, government spokesman, Nabil Benabdallah, replies to questions concerning articles in the independent press on the subject of the situation in Western Sahara (Le Journal Hebdomadaire, Assahifa, Tel Quel, Al Bidaoui). He makes clear that "our position of principle and policy consists in rejecting categorically such indecent practices which exploit this free space for dishonest ends." [corr.]

11.11.04
A party of the partisan press, notably Al Alam of the Istiqlal party, Al Ahdath Al Maghribia, close to the USFP, and also to security interests, publishes the declarations of a government source which prefers to remain anonymous, on what it calls "the activities and the spread of sympathisers of the separatists of the Polisario Front in the towns of Goulimin, Tantan and Smara".

The Forum on the Future of the Greater Middle East, the first meeting to be organised in the framework of the American initiative on the remodeling of this immense grouping which runs from Morocco to Pakistan, is planned to take place in Morocco. It aims to promote political and economic reforms. The Forum should bring together Foreign Affairs and Finance Ministers from over twenty countries of the Middle East and North Africa, alongside those of the G8 (USA, France, UK, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia), as well as officials from international organnisations. Several Moroccan organisations, political, trades union, human rights,professional and associative are banding together to oppose the holding of this meeting.

24.11.04, Mexico
fficial visit of the King of Morocco. The question of Western Sahara was raised in the joint press statement. The two parties want a lasting negotiated political solution in keeping with UN resolutions. The President of Mexico during a joint press update with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Benaïssa confirmed that Mexico has recognised SADR diplomatically for 25 years, in a spirit of active neutrality. [
Comunicado Conjunto] [Comunicado de la Embajada de la RASD en Mexico ]

26.11.04
Mohamed VI has talks with the President of Brazil Lula da Silva and signs a framework agreement between Morocco and the Mercosur (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay).[By the way, for his trip the monarch needs two Hercules airplanes for his furniture and cars, himself travels aboard his Boing 747-400 accompanied by a Grumman,]

HUMAN RIGHTS

16.11.04
The IER organises public hearings from mid-December
The body Equity and Reconciliation (IER) is starting from mid-December 2004 to organise public hearings during which former victims will present their testimony on human rights abuses which Morocco saw between 1956 and 1999. This program, which will extend over ten (10) weeks, will concern among others the towns of Tantan and Smara. In parallel, the IER will organise twelve hearings on different subjects devoted to questions intimately linked to abuses which Morocco has known. Among the subjects are: "survivors of disappearance", "torture", arbitrary detention", "women and human rights abuses", "exile", "the events of the Sahara", "secret detention centres". And "families of the disappeared". 22,000 requests for compensation for "forced disappearance and arbitrary detention committed between 1956 and 1999" [Source :
Instance Equité et Réconciliation]

26 / 27 novembre 2004 - Uagadugu, Burkina Faso
10th summit of French speakers
Contribution of the international Federation of the League of human rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation against Torture (OMCT)
(...)
c. Human rights defenders in a situation of conflict, of post-conflict or generalised chaos.
In Morocco, despite the fact that the armed conflict ended 13 years ago in Western Sahara, Moroccan activists who peacefully defend the right to self-determination and denounce human rights abuses perpetrated in this province, are still the target of Moroccan authorities. Notably, the Western Sahara branch of the Forum for Truth and Justice was dissolved in 2003 through a judicial procedure and three activists from the organisation were sentenced in 2003 for "incitation to insurrection" [
full text ]

SIGN THE APPEAL FOR THE DEFENCE OF THE SAHARAWI HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

SOLIDARITY

13.11.04
Over 5,000 people take part in a "march for the freedom of the Saharawi Coordination of Associations in solidarity with the Saharawi people. Participants demand that the Spanish government should take on its historic responsibilities and actively support the organisation of a referendum of self-determination in Western Sahara. A manifesto read out in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ends the gathering, and a delegation is received by Bernardino Léon, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. [
Photos of the demonstration in Madrid 13.11.04]

18.11.04, Mexico
The Association of Friendship with SADR is inaugurated in Mexico, made up of domains.

19.11.04, Brussels
On the initiative of the Belgian Parliamentary Intergroup, "Peace for the Saharawi People" a colloquium was organised in the Belgian Parliament. See statement from the Polisario Front representation in Belgium.[
communiqué ]

19.11.04, Paris
Meeting and Debate "Western Sahara : the legitimate right of the Saharawi people to self-determination within the framework of the UN peace plan", organised by the Algerian Cultural Centre and the Association of Friends of SADR, with the Polisario Front representative in France, Mohamed Habiballah, Nacer Boughalem and Mahrez Lamari, officers of the Algerian Committee of Solidarity with the Saharawi people, Mr Francis Jacob and Régine Villemont. [
L'Humanité, 23.11.04]

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