WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 19-20 : 08.05.-21.05.2005

original french

 

SADR

22-23.04.05, African Union
Ahmed Abdelfettah (UJSARIO) is one of three representatives from North Africa to join the Interim Standing Committee (ECOSOCC Economic, Social and Cultural Council) . This committee is chaired by the Nobel Prizewinner, Mrs Wangari Maathai. Made up of 15 members, it was set up at the end of March this year and held its first meeting on 22 and 23 April.

10-13.05.05, Abdelaziz in the USA
In the course of his stay the Saharawi president met in Washington with several members of the Senate and Chamber of Representatives. On 13 May he had a meeting at the Baker Institute in Houston with James Baker, the former personal envoy of Kofi Annan. [SPS]

NATURAL RESOURCES : OIL
17.05.05, Western Sahara Oil and Gas Licensing Initiative by SADR Government
To an audience comprising several oil companies of various nationalities, specialised journalists, representatives of the political world and solidarity movements, representatives of the SADR government announced the opening of international bids for oil and gas exploration. There are 12 blocks, namely Tah, Daoura, Amgala, Haouza, Farsia, Mahbes, Imlili, Gelta, Djrifa, Midjak, Zoug and Laghouira, situated off-shore in Saharawi territorial waters.
"This initiative", declared M'hamed Khaddad, Saharawi coordinator with MINURSO, "is aimed at preparing us for the day when SADR will enjoy sovereignty over all its national territory including its territorial waters, the day when finally justice will prevail. When this day arrives, and this will not be far away, the world will see SADR as a country of law, a democratic country, respectful of its international and commercial commitments". "Our initiative",  Khaddad recalled, "is in conformity with United Nations legal opinion relating to economic activities in Western Sahara." [see
Corell's advice which rejects Moroccan sovereignty over the contested territory]
>> see
detailed documentation and press statements and the new SADR website.

This decision comes one week after the renewal by Morocco of Kerr McGee's contract, the last business to be working in the area. [week 17-18/2005]

The question of exploitation of natural resources assumes a growing importance and the involvement of foreign investors by Morocco clearly has the aim of legitimating its illegal military occupation. Its intransigent attitude refusing any solution to the conflict seems to receive comfort from such economic aspects, in particular the promise of an oil bonanza which has become more evident in recent years.
This also goes for fishing and phosphate riches which are still completely illegally managed by Morocco, the occupying power.
>> See the
dossier on natural resources and the different campaigns of protest against the plunder of Saharawi resources by Morocco.

12.05.05, Moroccan-EU fishing agreements
The European Commission confirmed the willingness of Morocco to negotiate a new fishing agreement to replace the agreement of 1999, which would include Saharawi territorial waters. The Saharawi Minister-delegate for Europe, Mr Sidati, sent a letter to the Commissioner for fishing and maritime affairs, Mr Joseph Borg, to ask him to make sure the new agreement respects the internationally recognised borders of Morocco with Western Sahara and does not cover the coast of Western Sahara.
[Sidati: Letter to the EU Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, 18.05.05 ]

18.05.05, South Africa
The first South African Ambassador to SADR, Ratubatsi Super Moloi, will present his credentials to the President of the Saharawi Republic on 21 May next in Tifariti (liberated zones). [SPS]

20.05.05, Sweden
Replying to a question from a parliamentary member, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Laila Freivalds, declared that her government accords particular importance to the solution of the Sahara conflict respecting international law and the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people.

Commemoration of 20 May in Tifariti (liberated territory)

The 32nd anniversary of the start of the armed conflict in Western Sahara is celebrated this year in the reconstructed locality of Tifariti, in the liberated territories, in the presence of a thousand guests.
As an opening, an international demonstration near the Moroccan defensive wall took place, in the region of Bir Lahlou. Taking part in the march were elected members and representatives of NGOs from Spain accompanied by several hundred Saharawis coming from the refugee camps.

A school was inaugurated at Bir Lahlou, which bears the name of the Spanish writer, José Ramon Diego Aguirre, who died last January. This former Spanish officer, honorary citizen of SADR, is the author of several works on the conflict and the history of the colonisation of Western Sahara. According to his wishes, his ashes were laid to rest in Tifariti.

On the 21st the guests attended military manoeuvres of troops of the 2nd, 4th and 5th region, as well as the laying of the foundation stone of a civil housing block which had been destroyed by the Moroccan air force on the eve of the cease-fire in 1991.

In the traditional speech delivered by President Abdelaziz, the Saharawi leader warned that the Saharawi people "cannot eternally stay inactive" and alluded to the possibility of a resumption of fighting. He appealed to the Security Council to be faithful to "its commitment in relation to completing the decolonisation of Western Sahara", in order to avoid a destabilisation of the region. He recalled that the acceptance of the referendum was the basis of the cease-fire agreement and called on the international community to take a firm stance towards Morocco who he accused of "rebellion against international legality". Favouring a peaceful solution, Abdelaziz launched "an urgent appeal" to the Moroccan governnment not to lose the opportunity at present available of peace through the peace Plan for the self-determination of the Saharawi people, the Baker Plan. [full text]
Artistic and cultural evenings were also part of the festivities. [SPS]

The Saharawi committee for the referendum in Western Sahara, created a month ago in the occupied territory, sent a message of congratulations, in which it calls for "the international community to work towards the organisation of a fair and transparent referendum, in accordance with the United Nations resolutions for the settlement of the conflict, the only solution capable of resolving the problem for good and all."

For the first time, a pro-Moroccan organisation, the Association for the Moroccan Sahara, sent greetings to Mohamed Abdelaziz.

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO

07.05.05, Saharawi Association for victims of human rights abuses
Despite numerous obstacles and attempts at intimidation from the Moroccan authorities, the inaugural meeting of a new association for the defense of human rights was held in El Ayoun in the presence of many participants. A coordinating committee of 51 people was elected. It appointed an executive board of 15 members, all former political prisoners. It is chaired by Brahim Dahan. The assembly adopted the statutes, a program of action, recommendations and published a statement in which it demands that the Moroccan colonial authorities should respect "the political, social, economic and cultural rights of the Saharawi people and that it should lift "the military and media siege imposed on the territories of Western Sahara occupied by Morocco since 1975." The new association wishes to fight for elucidation of the fate of disappeared Saharawis and to work towards getting full civic rights for the Saharawi people in accordance with international pacts and conventions. [SPS]
>> Photos: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]

Offensive by the Moroccan authorities against Tamek

11.05.05, Campaign against Tamek (see also weeks 17-18/2005)
Verbal attacks against Tamek continue. In the purest colonial style, they are trying to reactivate tribalism, provoking divisions and rivalries. Aïda Ould Tamek, senior member of Ahl Tamek (clan) and a former soldier from the Army of Liberation of the South, sends a letter to the governor of the province of Assa Zag, in which he claims, in the name of the clan, to disown Ali Salem Tamek. The "sons of the tribe of Aït Oussa", to which the Tamek clan belongs, are associated with the declarations of Aïda.

The minister of the interior, Mustapha Essahel, met on Tuesday 17 May in El Ayoun, all the Saharawi notables collaborating with the authorities of occupation and with representatives of the "tribes" of Western Sahara and southern Morocco, to develop a strategy aiming to counter the the activities of Ali Salem Tamek and to defend "the territorial unity of Morocco".
Meetings of the same type were held in Goulimime and Assa.

Meanwhile, Saharawi students in France and Canada, as well as the Saharawi community in France, took Tamek's side.[Joint statement of Saharawi students in France and Canada, 12.05.05] [Statement of the Saharawi community in France 12.05.05, arabic]

Tamek's European Tour

Ali Salem Tamek is carrying out a tour of Europe with a view to raising awareness of human rights abuses committed in the occupied territories of Western Sahara by the Moroccan authorities. The principal stages of his journey are:

Switzerland: Geneva
Tamek visits the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights, the International Committee against Torture (CAT), to the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and to the International Bureau for the Respect of Human Rights in Western Sahara (BIRDHSO). He takes part in a conference and discussion and gives an interview to Mundo hispanico.

Belgium: Brussels
Ali Salem Tamek is received in the European Parliament by several MEPs and representatives of different political groups in the European Parliament. Other meetings take place with officers of human rights

Italy
As the guest of the Association of Solidarity with the Saharawi People of Emilia-Romagna, Tamek met solidarity associations as well as human rights defenders of Ferrara, Lucca, Florence, Pisa, and in Rome, where he was received in the Italian Parliament by the Permanent Committee of Human Rights of the Chamber of Deputies. [
Communiqué BIRDHSO Italie, 18.05.05] [Statement 04.05.05: Visit in Europe]

16.05.05, Repression
The Dakhla Committee against Torture denounced in a statement "the policy of repression, torture and arbitrary arrests", of the Moroccan authorities of occupation in Dakhla. Quoting the arrest of four people who took part in a sit-in outside the administrative offices of the Moroccan colonial authorities, the committee pointed out that they were "savagely tortured" by the police for four hours before being released.

Tan-Tan
A Saharawi citizen, Mohamed Lemine Kentawi, was arrested by the police, taken to court in a hurry and sentenced to a year in prison, for having paticipated in activities around the 32nd anniversary of the start of the armed struggle of Western Sahara. [SPS]

17-18.05.05, Goulimime
Sixteen Sahrawi officials from the commune who were sacked abusively, and who belong to the Trades Union council UMT, observed a sit-in in the grounds of the Commune of Goulimime for the whole night of 17 to 18/05/2005. At 6 am in the morning, a police patrol intervened and led them off to the town's police station. Accused of occupying a public place and holding a non-authorised demonstration, the group was presented to the public prosecutor of the Magistrates Court who released them. The regional secretary of the UMT council, Moutik Khadija is a member of the group. [corr.]

REFERENDUM

06.05.05 UN
Kofi Annan appoints his special representative for the Sahara, Alvaro de Soto, special coordinator for the peace process in the Middle East. The post of head of MINURSO is vacant for the moment.

SPAIN

17.05.05, Canary Islands
Activists from associations in the Canaries denounced the air company Binter, which since March last has been offering daily flights from the Canaries to El Ayoun, on the basis of authorisation granted illegally by Morocco. They invite shareholders of the company to sell their shares.[más en
CANARIAS ahora 17.05.05]

17.05.05, Parliament
The Congress of Deputies adopts unanimously a resolution asking the government to support any political initiative capable of achieving an agreement between the parties involved in the conflict in the Sahara, within respect for international law and the right to self-determination.

18.05.05, Parliament
The Foreign Affairs Committee of the Congress of Deputies approves unanimously a motion presented by IU/the Greens which asks the government to invest more effort in favour of self-determination of the Saharawi people and the implementation of the Baker Plan.[agencies]

SOLIDARITY

10-11.05.05, Norway: Seminar on Western Sahara
Organised in the precinct of the Norwegian Parliament to discuss different aspects of the conflict in Western Sahara, the seminar was chaired by the MP  Bjørn Jacobsen. Parliamentarians, representatives of institutions of civil society, of political groups, trades unions, NGOs, journalists, members of the Norwegian Committee of Solidarity with the Saharawi People, etc. took part in the event.

Mohamed Sidati,  Minister-delegate for Europe, present at the occasion was received by the deputy minister for Foreign Affairs for Norway, Vidar Helesen. The Norwegian official reaffirmed on this occasion Norway's policy concerning the conflict in Western Sahara: clear and resolute support for the decisions of the UN in favour of a just and peaceful solution based on the relevant resolutions of the UN. On the subject of the impromptu visit to the occupied territories of Western Sahara by the Norwegian Ambassador to Morocco and his ill-considered remarks, Helesen regretted this act and declared that the incident is closed, the Ambassador having publicly expressed regret and apologised. He has now returned to his post in Rabat.

COMING UP...

España:
MESTIVAL: FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL DE MÚSICA Y CULTURA ÉTNICA Y MESTIZAJE, ELCHE, 19 DE MAYO AL 4 DE JUNIO
Saharauis, Las voces del desierto
Ver
programa completo

Italia
Firenze, 23.05.05, Ore 16.00, Sala Affreschi Consiglio Regionale - Via Cavour 2 : Incontro - Per il rispetto dei diritti umani nel Sahara Occidentale occupato dal Marocco con Tamek Ali Salem.

INTERNET

NEW PUBLICATIONS
[External links to newspapers may not be valid after some days because the servers are restarted]

Français

>> Revue de la presse internationale francophone http://fr.groups.yahoo.com/group/revue-de-presse-sahara-occidental/messages

English

English publications on Sahara Update mailinglist: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sahara-update/messages

Castellano

Revista de la prensa en español http://es.groups.yahoo.com/group/revista-de-prensa-sahara-occidental/messages

Deutsch


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