WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 11-12 : 13.03. - 26.03.2005

original french

 

SADR

14-15.03.05, Seminar
The key personnel of the Polisario Front and SADR government hold their traditional seminar "on the evaluation of the crucial stage the Saharawi people are traversing in their struggle to recover their rights to freedom and independence". A message is sent to UN SG Kofi Annan, on the blockage of the United Nations referendum in Western Sahara and human rights abuses in the occupied territories.  [SPS]

21.03.05, Namibia
At the invitation of the government of Namibia, a SADR delegation led by Malainine Sadik, Minister Counselor to the President, participates in Windhoek in festivities marking the XVth anniversary of Namibia's independence and in the ceremony of handing over of power between the founding president of the Republic of Namibia, Sam Nujoma, and the new president, Mr. Hifikepunye Pohamba.

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO

10.03.05, Reprisals
At 8 o'clock in the morning the authorities of the commune of Dcheira, surrounded by 12 agents from the auxiliary forces under the orders of the pacha of El Ayoun, attack the house of a Saharawi human rights activist, Sidi Ahmed Eddia Moussa, representative of the Saharawi workers of Phosboucraa. They destroy the wall around his farm, plants, trees and mistreat members of the family who try to prevent the destruction. They seize farm materials and search the house from top to bottom. [
statement]

10.03.05, Demonstrations, continued
The Saharawi students from the Institute of Applied Technology in Smara organise a sit-in within their school as a sign of solidarity with the Saharawi students mistreated by the Moroccan forces in Rabat [see
weeks 09-10/ 2005]. "The committee for victims of the Smara events" expresses its solidarity with the Saharawi students of Rabat, Saharawi students in France do the same. Mohamed Sidati, Minister delegate for Europe, addresses on 15 March the European Union and the Council of Europe. [letter]

On  24.03.05 the President of the Saharawi Republic himself asks the UN SG, Kofi Annan, to protect the Saharawis, because "over 23 people have been injured, last week, during different demonstrations" in Western Sahara and in Morocco. [SPS]

Finally, the "Dakhla Committee against torture " calls the international community and the international committee against torture to intervene to protect Saharawi citizens in the occupied zones and to force Morocco to respect human rights. [SPS]

12.03.05, Testimony
Miss Faddah Aghlamenhoum, a member of the committee of support for the international campaign to protect human rights defenders in Western Sahara and a former disappeared Saharawi, gives testimony at the alternative public hearings organised by AMDH in Rabat. [
témoignage]

12.03.05 Controversial trip
José Segura, a member of the Canary Islands government, goes to occupied Western Sahara at the head of a delegation of 60 people, mostly involved in economic activity. It is the first high-level Spanish official to go to the Sahara since 1976. The visit took place on the occasion of the inaugural trip of a new weekly airline flight from the Canaries to El Ayoun. It has unleashed a political crisis in Spain. The Polisario Front representative in Spain protests strongly against this gesture which he calls a "hostile act" towards the Saharawi people.  The Front will demand explanations from the central government. The Coordinadora Estatal de Amigos del Sáhara describes the presence of a government delegate as an "inacceptable provocation". It regards the explanations as "unsatisfactory" both those given by José Segura, and the central government and recalls that the exploitation of Saharawi natural resources cannot happen without the consent of the Saharawi people". The Popular Party (opposition) demands the resignation of Segura. The government considers that it it is only an "administrative action without political implications".

REFERENDUM

11-12.03.05, IXth Conference of Parliamentary intergroups in Spain "Peace and Freedom in the Sahara", Palma de Majorque
The Spanish parliamentary intergroups "Peace and Freedom in the Sahara" sign a "Pact for the decolonisation of Western Sahara". This text concluded because of the continuing historical responsibility of Spain towards the Sahara and regards the Madrid Accords of 1975 as without legal value. The deputies ask the Spanish government to pursue the process of decolonisation interrupted in 1975 and to do everything to allow the implementation of the referendum of self-determination, so as to achieve the independence of the Saharawi people.
In the final resolution the deputies demand further from the Moroccan government to open the occupied territories to journalists, lawyers and international observers, and to stop attacks on human rights. They launch an appeal for an increase in humanitarian aid to the Saharawi refugees. They address themselves also to the French government to ask it to abstain from intervening in this conflict, in keeping with its policy towards the Iraq conflict. Finally, they condemn the Moroccan wall of shame which they call the wall of apartheid.[ Nota de prensa] [Resolución final] [Pacto inter parlamentario para la descolonización del Sahara Occidental ]

16.03.05, Declaration
Taking the floor at the Parliament, the secretary for Foreign Affairs, Bernardino León affirms that self-determination constitutes the basic principle for a solution to the conflict. The Baker plan is an "essential element to arrive at a solution to the conflict", adding (in the face of criticism) that the policy of the government is "active, impartial, coherant and solid".

15.03.05, Survey
According to a survey carried out by Barómetro del Real Instituto Elcano (Madrid) on 1,200 people, 60% were in favour of independence for the Saharawi people and 20% for autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty. [
enquesta]

ALGERIA

22-23.03.05 Arab League &endash; 17th ordinary summit in Algiers

21.03.05, Before the summit : message to Zapatero
La Coordinadora Estatal de Amigos del Sáhara (Espagne) expresses its concern at the attempts by France and Spain to "try to modify the Baker plan" and ask Zapatero who is attending the summit as an invited guest, to defend the Baker plan "without ambiguity".

22-23.03.05
Numerous Arab heads of state travel to Algiers, including Mohamed VI. Among the guests: the President of Spain, Rodriguez Zapatero, the senior representative of the EU for external policy and security, Solana, the head of French diplomacy, Barnier, German, Japanese, and Brazilian ministers of foreign affairs, the deputy Prime Minister of Italy, the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, and the executive president of the African Union, Alpha Omar Konaré.
The head of the Spanish government Zapatero was the only one to allude to Western Sahara, a conflict which never figured on the agenda of Arab summits. "... The conflict in Western Sahara is one of the principle obstacles to the process of regional integration in the Maghreb and for full development of the Union of the Arab Maghreb. From the outset, my government has wished to approach this question with the greatest sense of political responsibility, hoping to contribute actively in the search for a just and lasting solution to a problem which has lasted for 30 years and which has become the principal obstacle to full stability and development of the region. The Spanish government intends to apply its capacity for dialogue with the parties, with the neighbouring states and which other countries with legitimate interest in a peaceful and consensual solution to the conflict, in order to bring the positions together and to make it possible to reach agreement between the parties which is so greatly desired, within the respect for international law and the context of the United Nations." [>>
oficial site of the Summit]

22.03.05 First encounter between the Algerian and King of Morocco
On the question of Western Sahara, the Algerian minister for Foreign Affairs, Belkhadem emphasises to the press that this question "is following its course within the UN Fourth Commission on Decolonization and the UN peace plan" ... "Whatever the parties to the conflict, Morocco and the Polisario Front, agree to will have the support and blessing of Algeria"

22.03.05  The ministers of foreign affairs from the five member countries of the Maghreb Arab Union (UMA) hold a meeting in the course of which they decide to hold a UMA summit in mid-June 2005.

24.03.05 Talks for two hours one to one between Mohamed VI and President Bouteflika of Algeria.

MOROCCO

Lies, calumnies, defamation. The official Moroccan press agency (MAP) distinguishes itself once more.
17.03.05, MAP publishes a dispatch according to which the Algerian gendarmerie is alleged to have recently dismantled a network of traffickers in human organs of patients coming from the camps in Tindouf. According to a so-called investigation on the ground, some six hundred patients from a hospital in Tindouf, mainly children and women from the refugee camps, had undergone organ theft and allegedly had been declared dead by the authorities of this establishment. These horrors are attributed to the Polisario Front and various mouthpieces of the Moroccan press are still running versions of the story. An Algerian journalist Karima Bennour makes inquiries with the Algerian gendarmerie, who reject the allegations. [
La Nouvelle République, Alger, 18.03.05]
Mohamed Sidati, Saharawi minister responsible for Europe, asks the Spanish agency, Europa Press, which took up the MAP dispatch without any verification, to publish immediately a correction.  [other reactions see Sahara-Info spécial
français - español]

19.03.05, MAP tells of a so-called "hysterical attack", of which the alleged victim was a Swiss woman of Moroccan origin, during an international conference on the "wall of shame" and anti-personnel mines in Western Sahara which took place in Geneva (see below). MAP invents injuries, the intervention of a doctor and the interruption of the conference by the police...

21.03.05, MAP reports statements allegedly from an official of the UN High Commission for Refugees based in Mauritania to the agency: the Polisario Front is said to have bartered international aid received from international humanitarian organisations for narcotics, alcoholic drinks and contraband cigarettes. The Polisario Front representation in Switzerland writes to the UNHCR, which issues a formal denial and asks MAP to publish it. [statement]

It should be noted that MAP is still pursuing its defamatory campaign against the journalist Ali Lmrabet, with the goal of preventing him from launching his new papers in Morocco. Calling him a "traitor" after his visit to Algeria and to the Saharawi refugee camps, [see week 05-06/2005], they now try to disqualify his inquiries on the implications of Morocco in the terrorist attacks in Spain and his words on the shady role of MAP correspondents abroad by falsifying his declarations.

HUMAN RIGHTS

61st session of the Human Rights Commission, Geneva

18.03.05, Debate on the right of peoples to self-determination
Mr. Idriss Jazairy (Algeria) emphasised that the situation of the last non-self-governing territory of Africa, namely Western Sahara, is still pending, despite over 51 resolutions; despite a United Nations plan, called the Baker plan, amended 15 times; and despite around fifty reports produced by three successive Secretaries General of the United Nations... It is incumbant upon the Human Rights Commission to recognise that the principle of the right to self-determination proclaimed by the United Nations in their resolution 1514 is indivisible ... [
press release]

24.03.05,  Debate on human rights abuses
During the debate on human rights abuses, Oubbi Bouchraya, in the name of the International Union of Socialist Youth, said the international community should pay attention to the situation of human rights in Western Sahara where grave violations of human rights continued, without the international community taking any action. The Saharan people had undergone foreign domination for the last 121 years, and over the last 30 by Morocco which had invaded the territory and continued to deny the people their right to self-determination and independence. In the occupied territories, human rights defenders had suffered intimidation and threats of reprisal against themselves and their families.

18.03.05, Hunger strike
A Saharawi political detainee, Aâgdadi Ali starts, in Boulmharz prison in Marrakech, an unlimited hunger strike from Tuesday 22 March 2005, to protest against the inhumane treatment he has suffered at the hands of the prison administration. He demands an improvement in his conditions and to be moved to a prison closer to his family. Aâgdadi has already observed various preemptive hunger strikes in vain. He has been sentenced to five years in prison.

14.03.05, Appeal
The Saharawi human rights activist, Sidi Mohamed Daddach, sends an appeal to all human rights organisations for the "release of the political prisoner, Abdallah Lakhfaouni, who has been conducting an unlimited hunger strike since 2 March, in the central prison of Kenitra". [SPS]

The committee for the protection of Saharawi detainees in the "Black Prison" of El Ayoun has expressed solidarity with Abdallah Lakhfawni and asks for pressure to be put on the Moroccan state and its Minister of Justice. (25.03.05)

SOLIDARITY

08-10.03.05, Great Britain, Scarborough (Yorkshire)
A delegation of the Union of Saharawi Women takes part in the proceedings of the International Day of Women in the United Kingdom at the invitation of the Fire Brigades Union. The SG, Fatma Mehdi, has the opportunity of meeting various union leaders, including Harriet Eisner and Nick Sigler international relations officers of AMICUS and UNISON.

18.03.05, Geneva, International demonstration for the self-determination of the Saharawi people and respect for human rights in Western Sahara and Conference on the "Wall of shame" and the problem of anti-personnel mines. [>> report, photos]

18.03.05, At the invitation of the Western Sahara Campaign UK and the Students' Union of the School for Oriental and African Studies in London, Mr. Malainine Sadik, Minister Counselor to the SADR President, gave a lecture entitled: What does the future hold for Western Sahara?

18.03.05, Khalili Lecture theatre, London, «What does the future hold for Western Sahara?» special guest speaker: mr Malainine Sadik Bachir, the minister counsellor of the saharawi government, former ambassador to India, Algeria and South Africa.

19.03.05, La Plataforma por la Democracia y la Globalización Social de Balears, que aglutina algunos partidos políticos, asociaciones y sindicatos, ha organizado una concentración en la Plaza del Olivar de Palma para protestar contra las ocupaciones militares de Irak, Palestina y Sáhara.

24.03.05, Statement from the Swedish Western Sahara Committee, annual meeting 2005:
Western Sahara treachery demonstrates the need of UN renewal
For thirty years Morocco has been allowed to occupy and oppress a big part of Western Sahara in contravention of international law. The territory is divided by a 1,800 km Morocco-mined wall. Fifteen years ago the UN negotiated a ceasefire and referendum agreement. The Security Council has afterwards repeatedly decided upon realization of peace plans including referendum. Morocco has delayed and refused. The UN is paralysed with US-interest of keeping in with the Moroccan dictatorship and the French regional interest. Morocco can calmly continue to oppress the Saharawis in the occupied area and to prevent the retreat from Algerian territory camps. We call for a renewed and reinforced UN. The Security Council must become broader and more democratic. The General Assembly must be able to make superior decisions. The UN must be given the power to realize decisions by peaceful means.

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