WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 15 - 16 : 10.04.-23.04.2005

original french

 

SADR

Reactions in Madagascar after recognition of SADR is frozen:
"Is this a decision dictated by a faulty perception of the Saharawi question? We don't know, but in any case, it's another example of this "disjointed diplomacy" which we have denounced. In exchange for some crumbs given by Morocco on the cooperation front, we just cross out the sacrosanct principle of the right of peoples to determine themselves." [
La Gazette de la Grande Ile 09.04.05]
"In breaking off diplomatic relations with the Saharawis last week in Morocco, [President Ravalomanana] advanced the following reason: the UN does not recognise the Saharawi Republic, and out of respect for the UN Charter and resolutions, Madagascar "freezes" relations with the Saharawis. In fact, we are dealing with a pretext of the kind "when you want to drown your dog..." [
La Gazette de la Grande Ile, 13.04.05]
For an official from the Madagascan Ministery of Foreign Affairs, the freeze signifies "the halt in bilateral cooperation and diplomatic relations with closure of embassies, but without a break".  [
JA/L'intelligent, 17.04.05]

12.04.05, Declaration
During a press conference in Madrid, Mr Khaddad, Saharawi coordinator with MINURSO, warns that a return to arms and a destabilisation in Western Sahara "is closer than ever" if Morocco does not respect international resolutions. He hopes that this eventuality will not happen and insists on the Spanish government assuming its responsibility for giving international law a chance.

13.04.05, Sweden
Mhamed Khadad is received in Stockholm by Mrs Laila Freivalds, Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs. Talks had bearing on the latest developments of the question of Western Sahara and the prospects for peace efforts of the United Nations on the eve of the next report to the Security Council. [
Communiqué Ministère des Affaires étrangères de la RASD, 13.04.05]

15.04.05, Warning
In an interview with the daily Dagens Nyheter (Stockholm), Khaddad warns : "Open war is threatening in Western Sahara if the UN does not immediately put pressure on the Moroccan government." [Dagens Nyheter 15.04.05]

18.04.05, National Secretariat
The National Secretariat of the Polisario Front: "Renews its attachment to the Peace Plan for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara" (Baker Plan). [
Press release]

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO

15.04.05, Interview with Ali Salem Tamek
"I continue to believe that the referendum is the best democratic way to permit the Saharawi people to express themselves (...) I would ask [Mohamed VI] to provide the necessary assurance to permit the Saharawi people to decide their fate and to construct a strong and democratic Arab Maghreb (...) We believe in a Saharawi state, which is modern and respectful of its citizens. The Saharawi state exists. We have today a national government, a people and a member state of the AU recognised by 70 sovereign states."  [
Tel Quel no 171, French] [English translation by SPS] [in Arabic]

15.04.05, Intimidation
The military authorities in Tantan have forced a Saharawi citizen, Mjaat Ahmed, to transfer to Guelmim (Goulimine). A member of the Royal Armed Forces, he was given no notice or request. Mjaat was interrogated a few months ago by the royal gendarmerie on his relations with Saharawi human rights activists.

17.04.05, Repression
Forces of order intervened violently to disperse a demonstration of Saharawi citizens on Place Djeira in El Ayoun. Some wounded people were taken to hospital emergency among them old men and some women. [see Arabic text at Cahiers du Sahara] [
1] and [2]

18.04.05, Sit-in
Over 90 young Saharawis, mostly former officials recruited in 1987 as part of the Moroccan campaign for massive transmigration of young Saharawis, organised an unlimited sit-in  outside the Moroccan Ministry of the Interior in Rabat, to claim their right to work and their wages. Among them were some who have lost their jobs and others who have not been paid for several months. [SPS]

18.04.05, Phosphate workers
Former workers from the company Phosbucraa in El Ayoun, organised a sit-in to protest against the refusal to accept their legitimate demands for compensation. They are claiming a payment into their salary "in accordance with the agreement passed by the company Phosbucraa with the Spanish Institute for Industry and the Royal Office of Phosphates". [SPS]

19.4.05, Refusal
A Saharawi detainee, Haddi Ahmed Mahmoud El Kainnan rejects Moroccan identity. In the Black Prison where he is serving his sentence, he sent all his Moroccan identity papers to the public prosecutor in El Ayoun, declaring that he "rejects Moroccan identity, and does not recognise Moroccan sovereignty on Western Sahara".[
press statement from UPES, Union of Saharawi Journalists and Writers , 19.04.05]

17-20.04.05, Misadventure of two Norwegian journalists
Norwegian journalists visiting El Ayoun, were twice taken to the police station to undergo long periods of interrogation. Radmund Steinsvag was taken the first time on 17 April while he was observing a demonstration outside  Hotel Negjir when he tried to take photos. He was apprehended a second time accompanied by his colleague, Anne Torhild Nilsen Skuland just as they were entering the general quarter of MINURSO, where they had arranged meetings. After 3 hours of questioning, they were taken by the police to Hotel Parador, where two people were waiting for them, "who defend the Moroccan position on Western Sahara" with a translator. It is only after two hours of talks with these persons that the journalists regained their freedom of action. [
Press release Union of Saharawi Journalists and Writers,UPES] [Arabic]

REFERENDUM

11.04.05, Spain
Mohamed Salem ould Salek, in charge of Foreign Affairs for the Polisario Front, and its representative in Spain, Brahim Ghali, are received officially (for the first time) by the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Miguel Angel Moratinos. Coming out of the meeting, Ghali declares that Spain supports the Baker plan and backs the designation of a new personal representative of the UN Secretary General, who would fill the post formerly occupied by James Baker. [
Communiqué from the SADR Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 12.04.05] [Comunicado del Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores de España, 11.04.05, which does not mention the Baker plan nor the nomination of a new personal representative]

12-13.04.05, European Parliament
Members of the committees of support for the Saharawi people from Belgium, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Senator Pierre Galand, president of EUCOCO, as well as Saharawi parliamentarians and Mohamed Sidati, Minister Delegate for Europe, were present in the European Parliament in Strasbourg during the plenary session.[
note]

14.04.05, Resolution
Considering the appeal to donor countries on 26 February 2005 by the World Food Program in which it is emphasised that "from May 2005 the WFP will not be in a position to assure a complete ration of 2100 kcal to 158,000 Saharawi refugee beneficiaries through the lack of generous contributions and outside assistance", the European Parliament asks the European Commission, in a resolution, "to increase and diversify its [humanitarian] aid" to the Saharawi refugees, taking account of the fact that this population is in forced exile "because of an incompleted decolonisation". [
Resolution] [declaration of M. Sidati]

19.04.05
Report of the Secretary General, S/2005/254, (19.04.05) [
HTML] - [PDF] - [Arabic]
Kofi Annan gives an account of the development of the situation since 27 January 2005. He notes at first that "the parties have not reached an agreement", next he dwells for some time on  military activities, noting "a serious deterioration in respect for the military agreement No 1":
the Moroccan army has installed new radar and surveillance capability in over 40 sites the whole length of the wall (1690 miles, 2700 km) and has upgraded those already in place (with funds granted by the European Union for the fight against illegal immigration?), it has improved the defense infrastructure and built a second strand of the berm (where and of what length is not made clear). Faced with these massive reinforcements, Annan points out that the Polisario Front has deployed one anti-aircraft unit in the area known as the "Spanish fort", and has reinforced this position with concrete (David and Goliath...).
In the chapter devoted to the refugees, Annan notes that "the food situation will remain critical until the end of the year" and that confidence-building measures will begin again "later this month".
In his final observations, the secretary general talks of a  "general improvement in the political climate at a regional level", which has not yet had an effect on the parties to the conflict. He says he is still ready to "help the parties reach a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution". Without one concrete proposal nor mention of the Baker plan, nor the nomination of a personal envoy. He considers that MINURSO should be maintained, even reinforced, given the increased risk of return to war. Annan is persuaded of the "crucial role" that MINURSO plays and recommends the extension of its mandate for 6 months. [
UN News, 22.04.05]

MOROCCO

12.04.05, Sentencing of Ali Lmrabet
The Moroccan journalist has been sentenced by the magistrate's court in Rabat to a ban of ten years on practising journalism and to a fine of 50 000 dirhams (about 4 500 euros). The charge against the journalist was brought about by his declarations, published on 12 January 2005 by the Arabic language Moroccan weekly, Al Moustakil, on the subject of the Saharawi refugees in Tindouf. He declared that these Saharawis are not "hostages", as the official Moroccan position affirms, but "refugees", in the words of the UN. This scandalous verdict has aroused widespread disapproval except for the plaintiff, a defector from the Polisario, who finds that "the sentence was too lenient". [
Reporters Without Borders 12.04.05] [Committee to Protect Journalists 12.04.05] [Khaleej Times , 13.04.05]

HUMAN RIGHTS

61st session of the UN Commission for Human Rights
Various interventions concerning Western Sahara: >>
see special page
Contrary to preceding years, the adoption of a resolution on the right to self-determination of Western Sahara was postponed to the next session, through lack of consensus.

20.04.05, Appeal
A delegation from BIRDHSO to the office of the UN Secretary General's Special Representative for defenders of Human Rights, Mrs Hina Jilani, handed over signatures on the appeal "For the defence of Saharawi Human Rights Defenders". Ali Salem Tamek represented all Saharawi human rights defenders from the occupied zones of Western Sahara who are not authorised to travel. [
Communiqué du Bureau International pour le Respect Des Droits de l'Homme au Sahara Occidental, 21.04.05]

21.04.05, Human rights
Ali Salem Tamek spoke in Geneva during a conference-debate organised as a fringe event to the 61st session of the UN Commission of Human Rights. [
Communiqué du Collectif sahraoui des droits de l'homme]

SOLIDARITY

Norway
31.03.-03.04.2005
The National Congress of the Sosialistisk Venstreparti (Socialist Left Party) declares itself to be "in favour of the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination" and considers that "Norway should not take part in the Moroccan strategy of commercialising their occupation" of Western Sahara. It should "therefore actively discourage commerce in products originating from Western Sahara, in accordance with the desires and interests of the Saharawis". The SV calls on "the two parties to release prisoners of war and the disappeared and to allow them to be reunited with their families." [
Norwegian] [english]
07-10.04.2005
During its national congress Det norske Arbeiderparti (The Norwegian Labour Party), adopts a resolution supporting the Baker Plan and exhorts Norwegian economic actors not to invest in anything "in the occupied territories, nor to engage in activities relating to oil prospection in Western Sahara". The text calls on "Norway to exercise more pressure on Moroccan authorities so that they improve the situation of human rights for the population of Western Sahara". [
Norwegian] [english]

19.04.05, Madrid: "Otro mundo es posible con el Sáhara libre " Con la participación de: Abdulah Arabi (Delegado del Frente Polisario para Madrid), José Taboada (Presidente de la Coordinadora Estatal de Asociaciones de Amistad con el Sáhara)

COMING UP...

Italia
Tempio della pace di Firenze: "Voci della speranza: Donne per la pace", un ciclo di incontri con donne testimoni e portatrici di pace dei nostri giorni.
Il 28 aprile sarà la volta di Souadou Lagdaf, ex rifugiata nei campi Saharawi nel deserto algerino, laureata a Catania in Scienze politiche, esperta del conflitto nel Sahara occidentale e sulla situazione delle donne del suo popolo nei territori occupati e nei campi dei rifugiati. Il tema, svolto dalle 21, "Il ruolo della donna nei campi profughi Sharawi"

Austria
Wien: 10 Mai
"Hoffnung für die Westsahara? Der vergessene Konfikt in Nordwesten Afrkas": Gastvortrag von Nadjet Hamdi, Vertreterin der F, Polisario in Oesterreich anläslich der Generalversammlung von Süd Wind, anschl. Diskussion.
Ort: Volkshochschule Alsergrund 9 Galileigasse. Zeit 19.30

Innsbruck : 13.06.05
"Westsahara: 30 Jahre eines vergessenen Konflikts" ein politischer Dia- Abend mit Nadjat Hamdi, Vertreterin der F. Polisario in Österreich
Ort: Sitzungsssaal der SPÖ-Tirol, 4 Stock, Salurnerstraße 2, Innsbruck Tirol
Anmeldung: Renner-Institut Tirol, Tel: 0512 536618

RASD
II MARCHA INTERNACIONAL AL MURO DE LA VERGÜENZ
El viaje esta programado del Jueves 19 al Domingo 23 de Mayo de 2005. Info sahara-
coord.estatal[at]wanadoo.es o fedissah[at]fedissah.org.

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