WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 05-06 : 30.01.-12.02.2005

original french

 

SADR

27.01.05, Interparliamentary cooperation
A first phase of collaboration between the national Saharawi Parliament and that of Navarre (Spain) took place in the camps. For a week, several elected members from different Spanish political parties presented the role of legislative institutions in a democratic society in the light of the experience of the Parliament of Navarre. Fruitful debate followed. Saharawi parliamentarians will have their turn shortly when they go to Navarre to speak at conferences and to pursue the exchanges. [SPS]

30-31.01.05, Summit of the African Union
SADR President , Mohamed Abdelaziz, takes part in the fourth ordinary session of the conference of the African Union at Abuja, Nigeria. Alpha Oumar Konaré, chair of the commission gives a reading of an introductory note on the situation on the continent, in which a paragraph is devoted to the situation in Western Sahara and the prospects of peace in the region.

31.01.05,POLISARIO - Khat Achahid
The group behind the Appeal to Saharawi Nationalists on 04.07.04 publishes a statement at the end of a meeting of the first conference of the enlarged preparatory committee.[
Comunicado final] [Communiqué final de la 1ère conférence du comité préparatoire élargi] [in Arabic]

03.02.05, Mozambique
The Saharawi President attends the investiture ceremonies of the new Mozambican President Armando Emilio Guebuza. [SPS]

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

02.02.05, Tan-Tan
Statement in Arabic of the Saharawi students and strikers from Tan-Tan.[Cahiers du Sahara]

05.02.05, Political prisoners
El Ayoun, Black prison
Relatives of the Saharawi political prisoners and Saharawi human rights activists create a Committee for the defence of Saharawi prisoners in El Ayoun's "black prison".

Smara
The Committee for Victims of the Events in Smara launches an
appeal: "Dignity for the detainees in the 'black prison' of El Ayoun" and several reports are published. [in Arabic]
-
Urgent appeal of the Saharawi prisoner, Hassan Elmakki. [Cahiers du Sahara]
-
Report on the catastrophic and deplorable situation of Saharawi prisoners [Cahiers du Sahara]
-
Report drawn up by the Saharawi former political prisoner El Arbi Messaoud on the degrading situation and alarming conditions in the black prison in occupied El Ayoun. [AFAPREDESA] 

06.02.05, Smara
The families of Saharawi prisoners, disappeared and former detainees organise a demonstration outside the premises of the Moroccan colonial administration. Brandishing photos of the disappeared, some gone since 1975, they still demand light to be shed on the fate of some 500 persons, the return of the remains of persons deceased and the liberation of all those still alive, as well as trials of those responsible for these abuses. The demonstrators disapprove of the direction chosen by the body for Equity and Reconciliation (L'Instance Equité et Réconciliation) which, by prohibiting the naming of perpetrators, will not result in justice being given to the victims but a superficial "settlement" of the problem of human rights abuses over recent decades.

After four sessions of public hearings, the IER is increasingly criticised in Morocco as well. A statement signed by the AMDH, OMDH and the Forum for Truth and Justice (06.02.05) questions the method adopted by the IER concerning the disappeared, which runs the risk of "not achieving concrete results (...) and not revealing the truth". The three organisations regret that the hearings of victims had not been transmitted on television. They deplore the limits set: ban on naming the persecutors and limitation of inquiries to 1999, while abuses are continuing.   [Le Monde, 08.02.05] [Libération, 08.02.05]

The memorandum sent by the Saharawi activists and human rights militants is published on the internet site of the IER with "modifications" and "manipulations". [version in Arabic on IER website] [version originale soumise le 23.04.04, en français]

06.02.05
Following his remarks on a TV channel, Saharawi activists denounce the negative attitude of the President of the IER Driss Benzekri and launch a
collection of signatures.

05.02.05, Counter-offensive
Faced with the reserved attitude, one could say boycott, of the Saharawi victims from the leaden years, a delegation of the  Body for Equity and Reconciliation (IER), led by its chair, Driss Benzekri, makes many contacts in El Ayoun. Benzekri declares that the objective of the tour of members of the IER in the "provinces of the South" (occupied Sahara) is to complete information concerning the dossiers of victims of past human rights abuses. He adds that 40 centres will be opened to receive the persons concerned and to complete the information, pointing out that the tour which has concerned up until now the towns of El Ayoun and Dakhla, will also include Smara, Tan-Tan and Guelmim. [MAP, corr.]

Demonstrations in Dakhla by the Saharawi committee against torture [in Arabic] [in spanish] with photos. http://cahiersdusahara.site.voila.fr/picdakhla.htm and statements of the Saharawi committee against torture [in Arabic] by the Saharawi Association of Action for the Future  (ASAF) [in Arabic]

MOROCCO

Unrest around the Sahara
Sometimes it happens that worthy initiatives turn sour. The experience of Professor Ziane, a few days ago in Agadir, is a case in point. Invited to give a lecture on the subject of the conflict in the Sahara at the University of Ibnou Zohr in Agadir, he was to see a fight start among the large audience, a brawl was narrowly avoided. What happened was just before the lecture, the organisers of the event saw fit to play the Moroccan national anthem. On hearing it the whole audience, or nearly, rose to its feet, leaving aside the students of Saharawi origin who decided to remain seated, incurring the wrath and indignation of those present. A pitched battle was avoided but a large security force surrounded the area. [
Le JournalHebdo, 193, 29.01.05] http://www.lejournal-hebdo.com/article.php3?id_article=3178

The former Moroccan prisoners from the camps in Tindouf held a peaceful sit-in two weeks ago outside the Parliament, demanding more attention to the subject of their living conditions. Incidentally, according to the Association of the Moroccan Sahara, all letters sent since 2000 by Saharawi citizens to King Mohamed VI are intercepted and forwarded to the Ministry of the Interior for sorting.  [Le JournalHebdo, 193, 29.01.05]

Media Lynching
Two months after his trip to Algeria and the Saharawi refugee camps and the publication of his reportage and interview with Mohamed Abdelaziz, the Moroccan journalist, Ali Lmrabet becomes the victim of a virulent campaign.
Former director of the banned publications Demain Magazine and Doumane, sentenced in 2003 to three years in prison and freed, a year ago by royal pardon after a long hunger strike, Lmrabet tried on 12 January to register a new paper entitled "After tomorrow". His move was dismissed by arbitrary administrative and legal subterfuges denounced by Reporters without borders (Reporters Sans Frontières RSF).
Two weeks later, there is a campaign to discredit him "never seen before in the Arabic or French language media" causing RSF concern, fearing for the safety of Lmrabet in Morocco. The accusations of "treason", advanced by some eight pseudo-associations of Saharawis devoted to defending the "Moroccanness" of the Sahara (partly defectors from the Polisario) are relayed by a dozen publications. "The Moroccan reader and television viewer witnessed a string of quotations from statements by the Saharawi associations without ever being given the viewpoint of the principal interested party", writes RSF.
Taking up the defence of the freedom of expression, the Moroccan Association for human rights AMDH called this "campaign" "deplorable". "They are trying to stop him expressing his opinions". The Association Moroccan Sahara, is "revolted by this low-level affair". It considers that "if they want to settle personal accounts with Ali Lmrabet, they should spare the question of Western Sahara", adding that "Ali Lmrabet is a fervant defender of the Moroccanness of the Sahara".

For the Union of Saharawi Journalists and Writers, UPES, "hysteria has seized the enemies of the freedom of expression in Rabat when hitherto taboo subjects are treated with lucidity by a liberated pen". AFAPREDESA and the Union of Saharawi Jurists as well as human rights activists in the occupied territories expressed solidarity with the journalist.

The media publicity campaign culminated in a sit-in outside the Parliament, of the Ministry of Communication and the AMDH. The latter was tolerated by the police whereas demonstrations are normally violently dispersed by the forces of order.

While the RSF in its statements shared its fears for the safety of Lmrabet in Morocco, El Mundo on 09.02.05 reveals that a member of the Moroccan secret service met Moroccan community leaders in Spain to incite them to pursue a lynching campaign in the country where the journalist is living. [09.02 EL MUNDO in Sahara-Info]

[publications by Lmrabet
-
Interview de Mohamed Abdelaziz/le chef du Front Polisario, Ali Lmrabet, El Mundo, 14.11.04
-
Los últimos prisioneros de Tinduf, Ali Lmrabet, El Mundo 17.11.04
- Interview of the independent Moroccan journalist, Ali Lemrabet, in "Al Mustakil" on 7 January. [
Complete text translated from the Arabic by SPS]

[on the media campaign
-
Authorities refuse to allow editor Ali Lmrabet to apply for publishing licence; CPJ protests newspapers' suspension, CPJ/ IFEX, 28.01.05
-
RSF condemns harassment of journalist Ali Lmrabet, 01.02.05
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UPES-Union of Saharawi Journalists and Writers, Press release, 01.02.05
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Pro-government press mounts campaign to smear journalist Ali Lmrabet, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), 05.02.05. http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=12487
and more in
Sahara-Info, spanish + french.

12.02.05, Parallel hearings
The AMDH inaugurates its series of hearings with the two-fold order, "no limits to freedom of expression of witnesses" and "extension of the period covered by the IER (from 1956 to 1999) to today". The activities are almost exactly modelled on those of the IER, comprising also regional hearings and other more political themes. The whole process will end in May with a mock trial of the presumed torturers. [Telquel-online no 163]

05.02.05
According to
Le Journal Hebdomadaire, General Hamidou Laânigri, the head of the DGSN, the national security, should play, in coming months, a leading role in the Sahara issue. He has already contacted, nearly a year ago, the head of the Polisario, Abdelaziz El Marrakchi, in the aim of holding direct negotiations.[See also in No 194, "Whither the army?" a series of articles devoted to the Moroccan army]

SOLIDARITY

29.01.05
Este sábado se ponía en marcha la 2ª Delegación chilena al pueblo saharaui, un grupo de 11 jóvenes chilenos más una universitaria boliviana. Al frente de la expedición está Yasna Concha Vázquez, que ha viajado varias veces a los campamentos y hace de puente entre los estudiantes saharauis en Cuba y sus familias, uno de los objetivos de esta delegación juvenil.

03-05.02.05, Rome
The third Congress of the Democratici di Sinistra party, socialist, unanimously adopted a resolution supporting the plan for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.

Touring Italy,  Mhamed Khadad, Saharawi coordinator with MINURSO, had talks with officials in foreign policy in the Italian Senate and parliament and with officials from the principal political parties.

The Governor of the wilaya of Smara, Bouchraya Beyoun, carried out a visit of the north of Italy. He is received by the local and regional authorities in Bologna, Ravenna, Modena, Parma and Reggio Emilia.

05.02.05, Valencia
La Coordinadora Estatal de Asociaciones Solidarias con el Sáhara "CEAS-Sáhara" se constitue en association civile, elle pourra être enregistrée au Ministère de l'Intérieur pour obtenir sa personnalité juridique. Regroupant plus de 495 associations, la CEAS adopte un programme d'action commun pour gérer efficacement les exigences politiques et humanitaires inhérentes à l'occupation coloniale du Sahara Occidental par le royaume du Maroc. Pepe Taboada est reconduit comme président, Neus Canelle est élue vice-présidente et Miguel Castro secrétaire général. [SPS]

08.02.05, Sahara art caravan opens in Melbourne
On Tuesday 8 February an exhibition of paintings and artefacts by Saharawi artists living in the refugee camps was opened in Melbourne by author and refugee advocate, Arnold Zable. Referring to Toby Shelley's Endgame in the Western Sahara, he pointed out to the audience, mostly of European origin, that it was Europe which carved up the whole of Africa and created all the consequent problems of colonisation there. The case of Western Sahara is simply the last to be resolved. "We'd be crazy not to support these people", said Zable, "their society is exactly what we should be promoting: an exemplary moderate Islamic democratic state". After a screening of Yvette Andrews' documentary, "It's a long way to Tifariti", the Polisario Front representative in Australia, Kamal Fadel, invited people to take part in the next Australian delegation to the Saharawi refugee camps, to help the Saharawi artists by purchasing their work, and to support the work of the Australia Western Sahara Association which had organised the art project. Artists with work displayed in the exhibition include, Mohamed Baecha, Chaia Kemash, Lahsen Lebsir, Abdi Omar. It is the first time paintings from Saharawi artists have been seen in Australia. In the proper style of a caravan, the exhibition has already moved on to another location in Melbourne, namely to Gasworks Arts Park until 27 February. In March it will travel to Sydney.

27.01.-02.03.05, "Mes de la República Saharaui"
L'association mexicaine de solidarité avec la République sahraouie organise une semaine culturelle. Plusieurs expositions de photographies, des projections de documentaires ainsi que des conférences et des spectacles sont prévus pour faire connaître le peuple sahraoui. [SPS]

11.02.05, Sweden
Demonstration in the streets of by members of Solidarity Committee of the Peoples High School of Jakobsberg (Jakobsbergs Folkhögskola). All the way flyers were handed out which explained in Swedish the situation of Western Sahara. The students asked for the implementation of the referendum according to the original plan of the UN to get a solution of the Moroccan invasion of the Saharawi territory. The students also gathered signatures that were handed over to an official at the Department of Foreign Affaires.

COMING UP...

10-27.02.05, Sahara Art Caravan: paintings from the camps
At Gasworks Arts Park in the Angela Robarts Bird gallery open Thursday &endash;Sunday 1-5pm. It will be part of A Taste for Living Festival on Sunday 27 February at Gasworks Arts Park, 21 Graham St, Albert Park.

24.02.05, Guadalajara, IV Festival Musical a favor del Pueblo Saharaui. El Acto tendrá lugar en el Teatro Auditorio "Buero Vallejo", a las 20.30 h y en el que actuarán Mariem Hassan, una de las más conocidas cantantes saharauis, que recorre el mundo con sus conciertos de música tradicional, y Enrique Morente, una de las primeras figuras del cante flamenco.Contacto 676 25 93 98 (Socorro).

5. Sahara Marathon: 28.02.2005

Festival Internacional de Cine del Sahara: 03 - 06 de marzo de 2005.

Las primeras jornadas internacionales sobre derechos humanos del pueblo saharaui, Ciudad de Olivenza (Badajoz), 11 y 12 de marzo de 2005.

VUELO DE SOLIDARIDAD CON EL PUEBLO SAHARAUI
- Salida desde Aeropuerto de Zaragoza: día 21 de Marzo a las 12 h.
- Regreso a Zaragoza): día 27 a las XX.XX horas. (por concretar)
Info: As. Um Draiga

Vol "Catalunya amb el Sàhara" setmana santa 2005 Info: sahandreu[at]yahoo.es

Noviembre 2005: Jornadas internacionales de arqueología, Sahara Occidental (Rekeiz, Tifaritti) Info: bcheij[at]hotmail.com - narcis.soler[at]udg.es

INTERNET

 

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