WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 21-22 : 22.05.-04.06.2005

original french

 

SADR

20.05.05, Bouteflika's Message for the 32nd anniversary of the Polisario Front
The Algerian president, in his message on the occasion of the 32nd anniversary of the creation of the Polisario Front, declares that "Algeria is determined to work for the construction of a strong Union, [Arab Maghreb Union] to serve the interests of all the peoples of the region, without going back on its principles, notably those concerning support for you as a liberation movement recognised in international forums, in the first instance the UN and the Security Council. Committed as we have always been, we will go to Libya faithful to our promises. (...) Algeria supports this cause, as all the others in accordance with the UN charter with a view to helping the Saharawi people, as well as all peoples, to recover their freedom and independence."

21.05.05, Saharawi parliament
The President of the Republic, Mohamed Abdelaziz, laid the foundation stone of the Saharawi parliament in Tifariti in SADR territory. The construction of this building , which will have the shape of a tent, is estimated to be 180 000 euros. Accommodation for 150 Saharawi citizens, financed by Andalucia, will also be built at the same place.

22.05.05, South Africa
Mohamed Abdelaziz received in Tifariti the first ambassador of South Africa to SADR Mr. Ratubatsi Super Moloi, who presented his credentials as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary. It was the first time such a ceremony took place in the liberated territories of SADR.

02.06.05, Panama
The Saharawi ambassador in Panama is received in an audience with the first vice-president and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. L. Navarro. He renewed his government's support and solidarity with the just struggle of the Saharawi people.

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO

17.05.05, Interview
Brahim Sabbar, secretary general of the Saharawi Association of victims of human rights abuses, in an interview published by the Moroccan magazine "El Bidaoui", believes that the UN should set up an international tribunal to judge crimes against humanity in Western Sahara, along the lines of those for Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

INTIFADA

For nearly 2 weeks occupied Western Sahara has been the theatre of popular demonstrations in favour of self-determination and independence, severely repressed by the police.

The demonstrations began spontaneously on Sunday 22 May, following the transfer the day before of the Saharawi prisoner Haddi el Kainan from El Ayoun's Black Prison to that of Aït Melloul near Agadir &endash; this detainee had rejected Moroccan nationality and sent back his identity papers. Following the brutal intervention of the police, which caused numerous injured people, demonstrations were organised the following days in largely Saharawi areas of the town. To the protests against human rights abuses, independence claims were soon added. The crowd chanted slogans hostile to Morocco and in favour of independence. Young people brandish SADR emblems. Moroccan flags are burnt.  

Police response was extremely violent. Newly created "Urban Security Groups" joined the traditional police forces, as well as the military, brought as reinforcements from Southern Morocco. Police, in search of activists, search houses systematically, enter with force, destroy everything in their path, carry off whole families. We have no news of nearly 40 persons. Some have been found again later outside the town, near the public rubbish tip or in Saguia wadi. Numerous wounded people have tried to get to hospital, but the care staff have often refused to treat them. 13 houses have been devastated. Hay Maatalla is ringed with police, it's in an undeclared state of siege. Military helicopters overfly the town. There's talk of 60-150 wounded people of both sexes, an exact toll is impossible. Several human rights defenders are arrested briefly, threatened, insulted or even beaten. Unlike with the riots of 1999, the first "intifada", many photos of the demonstrations have been published. [see on the web sites of Västsahara, Cahiers du Sahara, AFAPREDESA ]

On 28 May a group of 40 detainees were presented to the judge and 30 (33 according to a Moroccan source) are deferred to the court, 10 are provisionally released. There are said to have been 70 arrests.

In the first phase, the media were distanced: a cameraman from El Ayoun's regional TV is beaten by the police, a reporter from Assahifa is expelled from El Ayoun, the Qatari TV crew from Al Jazeera is not allowed to leave the airport, that of a Spanish TV crew is placed under house arrest in their hotel.

On 29 May, the powers-that-be organise a visit on the ground for the press. While the wali had just declared to the journalists that order had returned, he found himself faced with a new gathering. The Spanish TV crew film demonstrators chanting "Viva Polisario" "Self-determination!" [see video] Moroccan counter-demonstrators, hastily assembled, attack the Saharawi citizens outside the Hotel Negjir. The police intervene. That day, satellite links with mobile phones were cut. On 30 May more disturbances, arrests, disappearances continue. On 2 June a Spanish journalist is expelled for "false declarations".

The troubles also spread to other localities in the occupied zones. In Boujdour two people are arrested on 29 May, three houses ransacked. In Dakhla a demonstration on 31 May draws 1500 Saharawis. In Smara sit-ins take place on 31 May and 1 June. There is talk of arrests and injuries.
In Southern Morocco, in Assa, Tan-Tan and Goulimine, Saharawi communities demonstrate also.

In MOROCCO large numbers of Saharawi students protest. In Rabat on 27 May Saharawi students demonstrate their solidarity with the demonstrators in El Ayoun. They are brutally repressed in front of the cameras of Spanish TV [see video]. Male and female students are arrested. Other actions take place in universities in Fez, Agadir, Marrakech. They speak of 17 to 44 arrests in Agadir, 12 wounded.

AFAPREDESA indicates the disappearance on 1 June of 3 Saharawi citizens, arrested without apparent motive in Marrakech and transferred to Rabat.

Human rights defenders are apprehended, mistreated and threatened following the confrontations in El Ayoun. Among others they include, the president of the local branch of the AMDH (Moroccan Association of Human Rights),  M. Fadel Gaoudi, Salek Bazeid (seriously wounded), etc.

More recently Brahim Sabbar, Daha Errahmouni, Brahim Dahane and Daillal Mohamed Saleh, members of the executive of the Association for Saharawi victims of human rights abuses, were surrounded by police while they were visiting a riot victim. The police confiscated their identity cards and insulted and threatened them. A crowd quickly gathered at the scene, the police released them for fear of a new riot.

Elmami Amar Salem and members of the Dakhla Committee against torture, are followed for several hours, and Talbi Alayat Sidi Mohamed Lehbib underwent interrogation and torture overnight from 2 to 3 June in the police station.

REACTIONS

On 26 May the Saharawi president asks the Security Council to protect the Saharawi population. The Saharawi Minister for Foreign Affairs does the same thing a few days later, while the Polisario Front representation in Switzerland calls for an international commission of enquiry to be set up, the appointment of a special representative and the opening of Saharawi territory to international press and observers. The Union of Saharawi Jurists writes to Mrs Louise Arbour, UN High Commmission for human rights.

No reaction to date from the UN. But there is talk of an internal MINURSO report of 19 pages on the events.

The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs reveals having sent an appeal for "serenity" to Morocco, to the Polisario Front and to Algeria, considering that the "parties must be mobilised", to "re-commence dialogue within the United Nations" (...) "to work for a lasting solution" to the conflict. [agencies]

The Minster of Justice, Lopez Aguilar, on 28 May declared himself in favour of diplomatic and political support from Spain to reach a peaceful solution to the conflict in Western Sahara.

The Saharawi Government declares itself "disappointed" with the statements of Minister Angel Moratinos and the general policy of the new Spanish Government in matters concerning the conflict and uncompleted decolonisation of Western Sahara in which Spain assumes a moral and political responsibility." [SPS]

In contrast with the position of the central Spanish government, provincial governments such as the parliaments of Aragon, Navarre, or other institutions, such as the region of Murcia or the town council of Saragossa, took a stand in favour of the rights of the Saharawi  people and condemned the Moroccan repression.

We hear of many demonstrations: Algeciras, Seville, Madrid, Almeria, Alicante, Murcie, Bilbao, Burgos, La Corogne, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Santander, Palma de Majorca, Santiago, Pampelone, Barcelona, Valencia, etc. and many statements of policy, including those of FEDISSAH, CEAS, solidarity association of Andalucia, Catalonia, the Canaries, Murcia, Avila, of the Spanish League for Human Rights (la Ligue espagnole Pro Derechos Humanos), etc., etc.  

FEDISSAH, Federacion estatal de instituciones solidarias con el pueblo saharaui, announces the departure for El Ayoun of a delegation of elected members and representatives of NGOs for an observation mission from 5 to 8 June. Last minute information: the delegation of 11 politicians and HR delegates was not even allowed to leave the plane at El Ayoun airport.

In many other countries, declarations of solidarity are numerous. A demonstration took place in Paris on 4 June.

In Morocco, unable to deny the facts, they belittle the events:
It is "an ordinary social event arising from various things in ordinary circumstances".
The police intervention consisted in a "mission to preserve public order and peace and quiet for the citizens".
There are also fantasy explanations: "The events experienced this week in the town of El Ayoun are the result of the attempt by a minority to exploit the climate of democracy and freedom which prevails in the Kingdom, to send hostile messages with a separatist leaning", the wali of El Ayoun affirmed, adding that "the uprising was limited to just one lane in a single quarter... Maâtallah", and that "separatist elements must have given alcohol to minors to make them engage in these riots". According to another source, "several street kids received 300 DH to commit the acts of destruction on behalf of the separatists."
Or else, they put forward the theory of a plot involving Algeria, Spain and the Polisario...

02.06.05, Appeal to the Moroccans
In a "letter to Moroccan elites", the Saharawi president considers that "there is no longer any reason for the democratic intellectuals, the elites, the political parties, and bodies within civil society to back the Moroccan governments policy (...). Our Moroccan brother-people, with all its components and energy, which owes it to itself to take up the challenge, that of peace, in order to be in conformity with the international resolutions and humanitarian values which constitute the basis for human rights and that of self-determination of peoples... Our confidence in you is great, Moroccan elites and brother-people. The hand of peace which we stretch out to you is sincere. Join us to face the future together with optimism and hope, a radiant future to which our brother peoples and our future generations aspire."

Numerous documents, photos, press articles can be consulted on our special pages:

ARSO
Western Sahara Online
Cahiers du Sahara
AFAPRDESA
Västsahaara.org

REFERENDUM

21.05.05, Asturias
The parliament of the Asturias approves unanimously a declaration of support for the Saharawi people, in which the parliament asks the central Spanish government to support all political initiatives in order to achieve respect of the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people.

23.05.05, South Africa
The South African Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, declared to the Emirates paper, "Daily Star" that "the question of Western Sahara is a question of self-determination, it is a principle which we hold very dear - for everyone". The conflict in Western Sahara should be settled through a referendum under the auspices of the UN, she added.

23.05.05, Resolution of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Italian Senate
The Commission asks the government to take the necessary initiatives, with all the international organisations, in particular with the UN and EU and the Council of Europe, in order to reach rapidly a common position for Morocco and the Polisario Front for the implementation of the Baker plan.

MOROCCO

Quotation: "Press. Khali Henna goes off the rails"
Mounir El Ktaoui , a journalist from El Bidaoui, was literally kicked out of a meeting of pro-Moroccan Saharawi notables, held in a hotel in Rabat on 24 May and led by Khali Henna Ould Errachid, the president of the municipal council of El Ayoun. The object of the meeting was to counter the independence supporters, who are becoming more and more visible in the media. Apparently El Bidaoui had made the mistake of becoming a forum for letting them have a say. That is what Khali Henna explained before, in a theatrical gesture, throwing to the ground a copy of El Bidaoui which he was holding, and telling his men (in Hassaniya) to get El Ktaoui out of the room. If it's like this that they want to convince the press of the justice of their cause...[
telquel] Reporters without Borders protested against this attack.

The Moroccan authorities pursue their mobilisation of support within pro-Moroccan Saharawi circles. By a curious coincidence, at the same time as occupied Western Sahara was catching alight, 300 Saharawi personalities were travelling to Morocco and meeting members of the Government and heads of the political parties to develop a new strategy allowing them to fight against contestation and the desire for independence of the population of the occupied territories.

AMU

23.05.05, Summit of the Arab Maghreb Union, the King of Morocco withdraws
In reaction to a message by the Algerian President to the Secretary General of the Polisario Front, considered by the Moroccan authorities as "harmful to the national sentiment of the Moroccan people, by explicit reference to a necessary "sovereignty and independence of the Saharawi people on its territory", (...) as a result, "the King of Morocco could not personally participate in the Tripoli Summit". [MAP]
24.05.05: The AMU summit due to be held in Libya on 25 and 26 May is postponed sine die.

HUMANITARIAN AID

For two months 46 Bangladeshi nationals have been looked after by the Polisario Front in Tifariti. Having arrived in Casablanca, they were transported to the desert where their guide abandoned them, after having spirited away their passports. After they had crossed the wall, they were picked up by Saharawi military who have been accommodating and feeding them, they now await the international community to take up their case. [S.O.S. en el Sahara, Luis de Vega, ABC, 20.05.05] [see also former identical cases weeks 25-26/2004]

III Encuentro de casas de enfermos saharauis en Sabadell
Durante los dias 21 y 22 de mayo se reunieron en Sabadell los responsables de las casas de enfermos del estado español. Durante la reunión se debatieron los mecanismos para agilizar la evacuación de los enfermos a la vez que se pidio a las autoridades españolas agilicen las tramitaciones de visados para poder entrar en España por motivos de salud. La reunión también trató de como poder aumentar la eficacia de las casas de niños a través de la coordinación con el programa del "Niño saludable" que tiene un programa espacífica para velar por la salud de los niños saharauis. El conjunto de los asistentes agradecieron a "Solidaris amb el poble saharaui" por la excelente acogida y los buenos resultados de la reunión.

SOLIDARITY

La Asociación para la Cooperación con el Sur &endash;ACSUR- Las Segovias, se complace en invitarte a la charla &endash; coloquio: La mujer saharaui en el exilio, que tendrá lugar el próximo lunes 6 de junio de 2005, a las 19:00h, en el Hemiciclo de la Facultad de Letras de la Universidad de Murcia, sita en el Cámpus de la Merced. Intervienen: Fatma el - Mehdi (Secretaria de la Unión Nacional de Mujeres Saharauis), Alejandro García (Profesor Titular UM - Autor de "Historias del Sahara, el mejor y el peor de los mundos"). ACSUR &endash; Las Segovias (Región de Murcia)

Regione calabria azienda sanitaria n. 3 - Rossano
Patto di Amicizia e Cooperazione Con il popolo Saharawi
Giovedì 26 maggio ore 18,00, Sala Convegni A.S. N. 3 Rossano
Interverranno Dott. Achille Gentile (D.G. A.S. n. 3 Rossano) Omar Mih (Rappres. Popolo Saharawi)
Umberto Romano (Scrittore) Tonino Caracciolo (Coop. con il popolo Saharawi) O.le Nicola Adamo (V.P. Giunta Regionale Calabria) O.le Doris Lo Moro (Ass.re Sanità Regione Calabria).

Gonfreville: Retour de la mission de co-développement dans le camp sahraoui de J'Refia
Le 14 mai dernier, 4 jeunes Gonfrevillais accompagnés de 3 représentants du Comité de Jumelage de Gonfreville l'Orcher revenaient d'un voyage dans les camps sahraouis situés au Sud-Ouest de l'Algérie. Les jeunes ont aidé les autochtones à terminer la construction de murs autours de jardins pour protéger les cultures du vent. Les yeux grands ouverts, ils ont découvert une population accueillante et mobilisée pour la cause de leur peuple. Gonfreville est jumelé à J'Refia, camp sahraoui au Sud de l'Algérie, depuis 1993.

CULTURE
El 20 de mayo tenían lugar en la Universidad de Alicante el encuentro «La poesía en la vida del pueblo saharaui», organizado por la Asociación Dajla, solidarios con el pueblo saharaui, de San Vicente del Raspeig.

COMING UP...

Jornadas internacionales de arqueologia: pasado y presente sahara occidental, previsto su organizacion en la 31 conferencia de coordinacion europea 2005 tifariti
El ministerio de cultura y deporte de la republica arabe saharaui democratica, tiene el honor de invitar a todos los arqueologos y antropologos, que han tenido la ocasion de realizar cualquier estudio o expedicion en el sahara occidental en estos ultimos años a participar en estas jornadas para unir sus voces con las nustras, con un interes centifico, para que el arte rupestre del sahara occidental pueda ser reconocido como patrimonio de la humanidad. esta sera la mejor manera para asegurar su preservacion a la vez que lo daria a conocer a nivel mundial la unesco.
Objetivos: - eponer y explicar la situacion actual del arte rupestre del sahara occidental y poner en comun los diferentes estudios y trabajos centificos, que profesionales de la arqueologia han llevado a cabo en el sahara occidental.

INTERNET

 Commémoration du 20 mai - galerie de photos

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/sahara-info/messages  avec plusieurs SPECIAL INTIFADA

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/sahara-info/messages con ESPECALES INTIFADA

Portugais

Publications in Arabic, italian , norvegian, swedish, magyar etc son special page INTIFADA


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