WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 25-26 : 19.06.- 02.07.2005

original french

 

SADR

03-10.06.05, antipersonnel mines
Invited by the SADR authorities, a delegation from Geneva Call visited the zones of SADR affected by mines and had talks with "Saharawi political and military authorities, MINURSO, NGOs and landmine victims". In a statement on their return, Geneva Call indicates that the Saharawi authorities displayed their willingness to belong to the Landmine Treaty to ban and destroy anti-personnel landmines.
"Geneva Call hopes that Morocco, a non-signatory state to the Ottawa Convention, will also encourage the dismantling of mine fields in Western Sahara... It is urgent and crucial that Morocco adhere to the Ottawa Convention", the statement concludes. [
Press release]

18.06.05, new letter to the UN
The Saharawi President has written a second time to the UN Secretary General to criticise the passivity of the international organisation in the face of "the precarious situation prevailing in the occupied zone" and to ask "for the urgent intervention of the UN". Mohamed Abdelaziz points out that the "Moroccan colonial authorities have bought thousands of traditional Saharawi clothes to distribute to officials in the Moroccan administration and forces, in order to organise [fake] demonstrations."

25.06.05, recognition
The Republic of Kenya and SADR announce, in a joint statetment from the Kenyan capital, the establishment of diplomatic relations at ambassador level between the two countries. Morocco recalls its ambassador from Nairobi for "consultations".

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO

Popular demonstrations, which started on 21 May, have continued in El Ayoun, Smara, Dakhla and Assa. Brutal arrests of human rights defenders, torture, intimidation and beatings up continue. Trials have begun and the judges, on the orders of the powers that be, send down sentences completely out of proportion and not in accordance with the jurisdiction.
New walis have been appointed by the king along security lines.
The campaign for the release of Saharawi political detainees has begun.
In Spain, where the population as well as political circles are particularly concerned, debate rages. A third and fourth delegation of Spanish elected representatives are turned back at El Ayoun airport. The position of the Socialist government, hotly contested, becomes more and more uncomfortable. The decision to send a parliamentary commission to the spot raises the fundamental question of sovereignty over Western Sahara. A new move, the United States rebukes Morocco for its attitude in the field of human rights.
Despite the media blockade put in place by Morocco, some journalists get to the spot. [
search in Sahara Info]

CHRONOLOGY

19.06.05, El Ayoun &endash; expulsion
Demonstration of settlers and Moroccan police dressed in traditional Saharawi clothes, organised by the occupation authorities on the tarmac of El Ayoun airport on the arrival of a delegation from the Asturias. The demonstrators, surrounded by policemen and officials approach the plane holding riot shields, Moroccan flags and photos of the king, insulting members of the delegation with cries of Moroccan Sahara, Long Live Morocco, Out Out.
Saharawi human rights defenders raise the alert that the office of the Association for Victims of human rights abuses in Western Sahara has been ransacked and its archives confiscated.[
An Urgent appeal, The Sahrawi human rights activists].

20.06.05, El Ayoun
First appearance of 7 Saharawi detainees in court, who all defend the right of Saharawis to self-determination.
171 Saharawi political prisoners start a 48-hour hunger strike to demand the release of Aminatou Haidar and their immediate release. Saharawi detainees in the Moroccan prisons of Tiznit, Aït Melloul (Agadir), Salé, Kénitra and Boulemharez (Marrakech) join in the action.

22.06.05, Amnesty International
On the occasion of the opening of the trial of Saharawi demonstrators, Amnesty International "calls on the Moroccan government to ensure that all reports of torture and ill-treatment of detainees...are fully and impartially investigated, and that all those charged are guaranteed fair trials." The American branch of AI denounces acts of torture and ill-treatment practised by police forces. [
Morocco/Western Sahara: Justice must begin with torture inquiries , Amnesty International Public Statement, AI Index: MDE 29/003/2005 (Public), News Service No: 167]

22.06.05, Appointments
The king appoints new walis/governors. For the "region of El Ayoun-Boujdour-Saguiat-el-Hamra", Charki Dreis (Drais) replaces Mohamed Rharrabi. The new-comer is a close associate of Mansouri, head of the DST, the Direction of Surveillance of the Territory. He had already worked in this field under Driss Basri, had been governor-director "in charge of staff in authority in the Ministry of the Interior", and then director of general affairs in the central administration from 1999 to 2004. Heading the "region of Oued Eddahab-Lagouira" (a locality under Mauritanian occupation!), it is the present ambassador of Morocco in Norway, Mohamed Saleh Tamek, a close relative of Ali Salem Tamek, who is appointed. Ahmed Himdi is designated head of the "wilaya of Guelmim-Smara", replacing Amine Demnati.
In making these appointments the king chooses a security approach in the place of economic development for which Rharrabi had been responsible, a development which was supposed to help forget the warning signals of the independence movement but which failed lamentably. According to
Maroc Hebdo 657, quoting a business man based in El Ayoun, "Our region is experiencing an economic crisis at the moment without precedent" and unemployment "could reach 50% of the population".
In an interview with the special envoy of El Mundo, published on 28 June, the new wali of El Ayoun downplays the demonstrations, "the work of 150 persons". According to him, the police has not committed any abuse and the persons detained have simply disturbed "public order".[
Sahara-info 28.06.05 ultimo articulo]

22.06.05, El Ayoun
Skirmishes between demonstrators and police on Avenue Skeikima, outside Aminatou Haidar's house.

22.06.05, Assa
Peaceful demonstration of the Saharawi population in this locality in southern Morocco, expressing solidarity with the population in the occupied territories, carrying SADR flags and chanting slogans in favour of the independence of Western Sahara and the release of Aminatou Haidar and other political detainees. The Moroccan flag is burnt, an action liable for a prison sentence of 6 months-3 years and a fine of 10,000-100,000DH, certain civil rights may also be curtailed including freedom of movement  for 2-20 years. This law was decreed by the government on 22 June as a reaction to the events in El Ayoun. [Sur l'atteinte aux symboles nationaux voir
L'économiste]
As is customary, the police forces intervened brutally, using truncheons, tear gas and rubber bullets.
As a result, over a dozen injured and several arrests made. [
photos]

For MAP, it was only a matter of "...an hour-long sit-in on Wednesday morning by about fifty pupils, who, disappointed in not having passed their baccalauréat exams, were claiming the right to see their marks...".

23.06.05, El Ayoun, courts
10 detainees appeared in the morning before the court. They were Ayub Lehbib (26137), Radi Maelainin (26138), Leboihi Jatar (26139), Alouat Sidi Mohamed (26141), Rahali Hamou (26142), Farah Bachir (26143), Taoubali Elhafed (26145), Day Abdelaziz (26147), Mahmud Abah (78479, arrested in Marrakech), Bay Bachir. They declared themselves prisoners of conscience and rejected all the crimes of which they were accused. They call for the presence of international observers. The lawyers ask for the proceedings to be postponed until 5 July, which the court accepts. On leaving the court, the detainees shout slogans calling for self-determination and for a Saharawi Republic and for the Polisario Front. Members of GUS intervene violently.
In the evening, 6 Saharawi political prisoners are presented without notice to the magistrate's court of first instance, they are given sentences ranging from 1 to 5 years' loss of freedom, without either respect for legal procedure or the assistance of a lawyer. Abderrahman Bougarfa, 53 years, father of 10 children, living in Shaila camp in El Ayoun, human rights activist, is sentenced to 5 years in prison for "being part of an armed mob". Chiahou (Chyaho, Achiah) Brahim, 26129, and Chrih (Achrih) Hamou (Hamma), 26128, are sentenced to 3 years in prison and a fine of 200 DH for "violence against officials in the course of their duty, using firearms and damage to private property",
Azley (Izili, Azili) Abdellah, 26131, and Salami (Sellami, Soullami) Mohamed Salem, 26130, to 2 years of prison and Saaidi Salek, 26132, a mentally ill young man to 1 year's suspended sentence.

Appeals and declarations
Ali Salem Tamek launched an
appeal from Barcelona to the Swedish people, associations and civil society and government to protect the Saharawi population.

The Rafto 2002 prizewinner for human rights, Sidi Mohamed Deddech, does the same in relation to the Norwegian Rafto Foundation and other similar organisations across the world to demand of the Moroccan government the "immediate and unconditional [release] of Saharawi political prisoners". [text]

The Rafto Foundation as well as 12 Norwegian NGOs write to their government on 28 June asking it to apply pressure on Morocco to put an end to the repression.[text]

European parliament: 104 MEPs sign a letter to the United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, to ask him to "put pressure on Morocco to stop its repression of [Saharawi] civilians immediately".(23.06.05) [letter]

On 29 June the spokesperson for the European Greens expresses the concern of her party for what she calls "serious Moroccan repression" in Western Sahara, and condemns the media blockade imposed on the Saharawi territory by the Moroccan colonial authorities. (SPS) The same day the president of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament, Martín Schulz, asks the president of the Parliament Josep Borrell to send a delegation of MEPs to Western Sahara in July, in order to avoid a "real infitada".

Italy: In Italy, the Refounded Communist Party (PRC) insists on the need to go to the help of the Saharawi people and condemns Moroccan repression. Democrats of the Left (DS) express their deep anxiety about the policy of repression holding sway in Western Sahara for some weeks. The officer responsible for international relations of the General Labour Confederation (CGIL), Titti Di Salvo, calls on the Italian Government and the European Union to intervene with Morocco to "put an end to the repression and to encourage negotiations which would guarantee peace and independence in Western Sahara".

France: The Communist Party expresses its feelings and consternation. [It calls] on French and European authorities to take the initiatives needed to check the tension and to obtain from Morocco a firm commitment to implement the UN plan and the organisation of a referendum of self-determination in the shortest possible time.[Déclaration]  

In Denmark, the parliamentarian Rune Lund, foreign policy spokesman for the Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) declares support for the struggle of the Saharawi people for its independence and condemns human rights abuses in Western Sahara.[Statement of Enhedslisten Danmark] (30.06.05)

24.06.05, Smara
Families of students imprisoned in Casablanca, human rights activists and sympathisers meet to demand the release of political prisoners and condemn the repression. Slogans are shouted saying "Yes to self-determination", "Common graves in Mahbès et Chdéria» (alluding to Moroccan repression), etc. Several are wounded after the usual brutal intervention of police forces, a quarter of an hour after the group had assembled.

26.06.05, Expulsion
A delegation of Andalucian MPs, university professors, a trades unionist and representatives of solidarity associations with the Saharawi people, goes to El Ayoun as human rights observers. The Spanish and Moroccan governments are forewarned, the Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affairs tells the delegation that its visit "is not opportune".

27.06.05, Dakhla
It was enough for a few young people on a roof to brandish the Saharawi flag for the police to intervene and arrest them. It is the trigger for demonstrations and clashes. 18 people are injured, including the president of the local Committee against Torture. Several arrests, several houses are ransacked.
Two days later, a two-hour sit-in outside the Moroccan colonial administration offices to call for the release of Saharawi political prisoners, respect for human rights and the organisation of a referendum of self-determination.

International Campaign for the liberation of AMINATOU HAIDAR and of all Saharawi political prisoners

Campaña internacional para la liberación de AMINATU HAIDAR y de todos los presos politicos saharauis

Campagne internationale pour la libération de Aminatou Haidar et de tous les prisonniers politiques sahraouis

26.06.05, launch
A steering committee consisting of human rights activists in occupied Western Sahara, NGOs from the refugee camps and international sympathisers calls for the release of Aminatou Haidar and all Saharawi political prisoners, the end to repression, the condemnation of those responsible for attacks on human rights, the withdrawal of police forces from the towns, the free circulation of international observers. A dossier on the human rights activist, former disappeared and political prisoner in 1987-1991, at present imprisoned in the Black Prison, and the other victims of police repression is published on  [
arso] [Cahiers du Sahara Occidental] [AFAPREDESA]

As its first action a letter is sent to the King of Morocco, to the UN and to heads of state in Spain and France [urgent action to send]. In parallel, signatures of support for the campaign and its demands are being collected on the sites of  arso.org  and Cahiers du Sahara Occidental

In Valencia (Spain) associations of solidarity with the Saharawi people set up a Saharawi tent. (29.06.05) (>> photos)
In Barcelona a Catalan Committee for the release of Aminatou Haidar and all the Saharawi political prisoners is created by several human rights organisations, political organisations and committees of solidarity. (30.06.05)
Three Euro MPs from the European Socialist party, Antonio Masip, Karin Scheele and Ana Gomes present Aminatou Haidar as a candidate for the Sakharov Prize 2005 for Freedom of Thought, which is awarded by the European Parliament.(01.07.05)
On 9 of July, demonstration is anounced in Sevilla, Spain

28.06.05, Arbitrary Sentences
Elhairach Hassanna, 19 years, student, Bouamoud Ahmed Salem, 18 years, and Daoudi My Omar, 31 years, carpenter arrested on 25.05.06, are presented to the court, accused of forming a criminal gang, putting obstacles on the public highway, violence to officials in the exercise of their duties with premeditation (throwing stones, bottles and a gas canister), use of firearms, taking part in armed gatherings, destruction of the Moroccan flag, etc. (see
week 23-24). The accused reject these charges. Elhairach certifies that he was not in any demonstration, that the police entered his house and took him off to the police station, beat him and that he woke up in hospital. His family had no news until a few days later. Bouamoud declares that he took part in a peaceful demonstration for the freedom of the Sahara, denying he fought or burnt a flag.
Elhairach is sentenced to 20 years in prison, Bouamoud and Daoudi each to 15 years in prison. No witness was presented by the prosecution, no proof was brought, leaving aside the declarations signed by the accused extorted under torture. The court implemented antiterrorist laws to discourage new demonstrations in the coming days. [
Marruecos condena a 3 saharauis a 50 años por agredir a policías. Eduardo del Campo, Enviado especial El Mundo, 29.06.05]

30.06.05, Solidarity
32 Saharawi political detainees arrested on 21 May 2005 start a 48 hour hunger strike to protest against the arrest of Aminatou Haidar, to demand respect for the dignity of hundreds of detainees in the "Black Prison" and to denounce torture and arbitrary sentences handed down by the court of appeal in El Ayoun.

30.06.05, more declarations
The Andalucian Parliament adopts an "institutional declaration" in which it expresses its "concern" over the deterioration of the human rights situation in Western Sahara and reiterates its support for the right to self-determination and independence for the Saharawi people. Andalucian members of parliament recall that all the UN resolutions recognise the Saharawi people's "right to decide its future through a referendum of self-determination defined in the Baker Plan, supported by international organisations". [SPS]
The Parliament of Catalonia does the same asking the central government to put pressure on Morocco to protect the rights of the Saharawi population.
The Western Sahara Foundation USA, writes to the Secretary of State, C. Rice: the USA must ask Morocco to stop its brutal occupation of Western Sahara and allow the referendum of self-determination. [
Letter of US Western Sahara Foundation to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.]
In Australian the national branch of the International Commission of Jurists expresses its deep concern for the situation in Western Sahara. [
media release 01.07.05] http://www.arso.org/ICJAustr2005.htm
Italian NGOs Auser-ONLUS and NEXUS from the region of Emilia-Romagna express their "indignation" at the brutal repression exercised by the Moroccan colonial authorities against the Saharawis in the occupied territories and in Morocco. (SPS, 01.07.05)

REFERENDUM

21.06.05
The Progressive Union of Spanish public prosecutors "reiterates its unconditional support for the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination in accordance with the agreements of the parties to the conflict within the framework of the UN and the settlement plan of 1988 and in accordance with the Pact of Civil and Political Rights of 1966", which is underlined in a resolution of the XXth congress of the organisation held recently in Logrono. (SPS)

22.06.05
The Spanish minister for Foreign Affairs has talks in Brussels with Kofi Annan and asks him to get the UN more involved in finding a speedy solution to the conflict in Western Sahara.

30.06.2005
On the occasion of a visit to the German parliament of a Saharawi delegation, led by the president of the parliament Mahfoud Ali Beiba, the president of the Committee for Cooperation and Development, Rudolf Kraus (CSU), declares that the time has come to find a solution to the conflict within the framework of the United Nations and based on SC resolution 1495. [
communiqué]

NATURAL RESOURCES

30.06.05. Oil
The last Norwegian investors Storebrand Insurance and KLP Insurance announce they have sold their stocks in the petroleum company Kerr-McGee, following Skagenfondene (May 2003) and the Petroleum Fund (June 2005) . This is a great victory of the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara. [
Aftenposten 30.06.05]

MOROCCO

05.06.05, Annahj Addimoucrati
The National Council for the Democratic Way, a Moroccan political party, meeting in Casablanca expresses its unconditional support for the protest movements and condemns the savage repression which the region has seen; makes clear that the solution of the problem could only be envisaged through a referendum or through direct negotiations with the Polisario; [demands] the release of abducted Saharawis and prisoners of war on both sides.

22.06.05, Reprisals
45 Saharawi students from the university city in Casablanca are the target of acts of brutality from Moroccan employees and student police under instructions from the director of the Cité himself. Many students are injured and their rooms devastated. In the morning the director had threatened young women with rape by the Moroccan security forces if they took part in anti-Moroccan demonstrations. (SPS) (
photos)

In Marrakech on 17 June the abduction of a Saharawi student, Raji Mohamed.

30.06.05, USA-Morocco
The American Minister of Foreign Affairs, Condoleezza Rice, publicly warns the King of Morocco not to pursue repression of those who criticise the lack of freedoms and human rights abuses in Morocco. "One cannot make progress on the road to democracy without guaranteeing these freedoms", the note from the Department of State concludes.[Rice advierte a Mohamed VI de que no siga por la vía de la represión,Pedro Canales,
La Razon, 30.06.05].

SPAIN

The Spanish paradox...
Quotation: ...Spanish citizens wish to go to a territory of which Spain is the administrative power and are expelled from it by a state which occupies it illegally. (Enrique Gomez, Asociación Um Draiga)
[original:... unos ciudadanos españoles quieren visitar un territorio del que jurídicamente España es potencia administradora y son expulsados del mismo por un país que lo ocupa ilegalmente (Enrique Gomez, Asociación Um Draiga)]

Parliament
Successive expulsions of delegations of elected Spaniards, who wished to travel to the Sahara to take note of the situation, have caused a stir and a variety of parliamentary interventions.
The dealings between the Spanish and Moroccan governments on the sending of an official parliamentary delegation also provoke controversy. They arise in part from the practical conditions of the visit, freedom of movement, contacts etc, and on the other hand, over the legitimacy of Morocco to authorise such a visit or not, which puts the legal status of Morocco on the agenda, the occupying power according to the UN, and recalls that Spain, which has not finished the decolonisation of the Sahara, remains the administrative power.
In his
legal opinion Hans Correll http://www.arso.org/UNlegaladv.htm had made clear that "The Madrid Agreement did not transfer sovereignty over the territory, nor did it confer upon any of the signatories the status of an administering Power - a status which Spain alone could not have unilaterally transferred. The transfer of administrative authority over the territory to Morocco and Mauritania in 1975, did not affect the international status of Western Sahara as Non-Self-Governing Territory.[PDF] http://www.arso.org/olaeng.pdf
Concerning the practical conditions, the Spanish government accepts that the Moroccan parliament should organise the trip.

The Saharawi Government reminds Moratinos that his country remains the Administering Power of Western Sahara. [ SPS]

The Coordination of Associations of Solidarity in Spain warns that "The Spanish Parliamentarians' visit to Western Sahara may legitimise Rabat's colonial status [SPS]

30.06.05, Spanish-Moroccan summit
Zapatero asked Morocco to "facilitate a solution for Western Sahara". It is the only result of the meeting in Madrid of the president of the Spanish government with his Moroccan counterpart, Driss Jettou. Madrid pursues its policy of consideration and tolerance towards Morocco and asks each of the parties involved in the Saharan conflict to "look for a political solution and a lasting agreement within the framework of the United Nations".

ALGERIA

25.06.05, Expulsion
Two members of the Association Moroccan Sahara, who wished to travel to the Saharawi refugee camps, and four Moroccan journalists coming to cover the event, are turned back at the airport in Algiers. The delegation was held for a long time by the security forces before being sent back to Rome.

COMING UP...

03.07.05: President M. Abdelaziz participates to the 6th African Union summit at Syrte (Libya).

FESTIVAL MAGOSTA 2005
1, 2 y 3 de Julio Castañeda - Cantabria: Exposición de fotografías "Sáhara Occidental, la Patria arrebatada", de la ONG Cantabria por el Sáhara, en el auditorio del Palacio Larrinaga, del 1 al 3 de julio mañanas y tardes. Durante las jornadas del festival se proyectarán vídeos documentales sobre el Pueblo Saharaui.
Domingo 3 de julio a las 20:00 horas: RECITAL DE POESIA SAHARAUI, presentación en Cantabria del libro "Los versos de madera" por el poeta saharui LIMAN BOICHA ...y el músico saharui Imbarek Massoud.
- Intifada y violacion de los derechos humanos, conferencia de Ali Salem Tamek, 5 de julio, a 20 horas, Ateneo popular Jiribilla (Paseo de S. Antonio, 11 - Las Palmas). Org.: Plataforma Canaria de Solidaridad con los Pueblos.

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

Italiano

Norvégien

Portugais

Danois


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