WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 31 -32 : 31.07.-12.08.2005

original french

 

SADR

June 2005
Open letter to the Uruguayan President
63 well-known personalities signed a letter to President Tabaré Vazquez, including Dr Hector Gros Espiell, the first UN special representative for Western Sahara (1988), former ministers, senators, members of parliament, ambassadors, artists and writers such as Eduardo Galeano and Mario Benedetti, among others. The signatories ask their government to recognise SADR. [
Spanish]

09.08.05
A Saharawi delegation from UJSARIO took part in the 16th world festival of youth and students in Caracas, Venezuela. [summary in
Spanish ]

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO

30.07.05
The executive board of the Moroccan Forum for Truth and Justice (FMVJ) called for "the release of  Mohammed El Moutawakil, a member of the board, and the four other Saharawi members of FJCD, criticising the manner in which they were arrested and denouncing the torture they have undergone. [
Communiqué]

31.07.05
New demonstration
Hundreds of Saharawi citizens demonstrated on Foum El Oued beach for the release of political prisoners and the right to self-determination. Police forces intervened violently, in their usual style, proceeding to numerous arrests and causing injuries. Finally, Sidahmed Elmoussawi was found guilty and locked up in the Black Prison. He is alleged to have torn the Moroccan flag.

01.08.05
Under the title "Morocco/Western Sahara: New arrests and allegations of torture of Sahrawi human rights defenders , Amnesty International publishes a public declaration. [to read in
english] [Arabic ]

01.08.05, Illegal transfers
The five human rights defenders imprisoned in El Ayoun's Black Prison, Ali Salem Tamek, Mohamed Elmoutaoikil, Brahim Noumria, Lidri Elhoussein and Messaoud Larbi, are transferred to Morocco. Tamek turns up in Aït Melloul near Agadir, the four others in Oukacha prison, Casablanca. These transfers are carried out in brutal and degrading conditions. The prisoners were transported handcuffed and blindfolded in the boots of police cars for over 1000 km. Such a transfer is against their will and against the law, the five prisoners being under investigation by the Public Prosecutor of El Ayoun. The families and lawyers were not informed until several days later of the new place of imprisonment. [
more]

03.08.05
The President of the Saharawi Republic sends another letter to the United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, exhorting him to "undertake the necessary urgent measures" to shed light on the fate of the five Saharawi political prisoners.

03.08.05, Judgements on Appeal
The disproportionate sentences handed down to 12 people on 12 July were reduced on appeal. [
details français - espanol]
Following the intervention of GUS in the court at the moment that the verdict was being read, two of those being sentenced were injured and hospitalised for several hours.

The five Saharawi human rights defenders imprisoned in Morocco, subjected to arbitrary measures protest.

Tamek is strongly opposed to a psychiatric examination ordered by the public prosecutor, he starts a hunger strike on 3 August. [Communiqué] [Texte intégral de la réponse de TAMEK au communiqué du procureur général de la cour d'appel de El Aaiun, 06.08.05 , en français] [Communiqué du Collectif des Défenseurs Sahraouis des Droits de l'Homme « Territoires Occupés du Sahara Occidental » 06.08.05, en français]

On 8 August he sends a letter to the members of the American Congress.

In an update of 4 August, prisoners Mohamed Elmoutaoikil, Noumria Brahim, Lidri Lhoucine and Laarbi Masoud ask for medical attention for Noumria and Lidri, victims of torture. [français]

The public prosecutor of El Ayoun orders an inquiry against X on these "torture allegations". [agencies]

06.08.05
Hunger strikes
After having observed a 48-hour fast of protest, to demand decent treatment and minimal conditions of detention the Saharawi human rights activist and former political prisoner, Aminetou Haidar launches an appeal, from her cell in El Ayoun's Black Prison, for the protection of Saharawi prisoners deported to Morocco. In a statement, Mrs Haidar condemns "this arbitrary, unjust and inhuman deportation. [
more]

The Saharawi political prisoners from Black Prison (El Ayoun), Oukacha (Casablanca) and Ait Melloul (Agadir) started an unlimited hunger strike to protest against the summary sentences, illegal deportations and to call for their release. [statement]

09.08.05
Hamad Hmad, former political detainee and human rights activist is arrested at 8.30am at his house by eight police officers. He was injured after the demonstration on 17 June while he was transporting the injured to El Ayoun hospital. Arrested following his protest action against the arrests of the human rights activists in Casa d'Espana in El Ayoun on 11.07.05, he was found innocent and set free provisionally.
He appeared on 10.08 before the examining magistrate and was found guilty and imprisoned in the Black Prison. Two demonstrators, Bal-la Mohamed and Chteioui Mahayaoub, arrested on 8.08.05 in El Ayoun, were also incarcerated in the Black Prison. According the Spanish news agency, EFE, quoting Moroccan judicial sources, they are supposedly accused of constituting an armed criminal gang and of attacking officials - acts allegedly committed on 4, 5 and 8 August.

10.08.05, Sentence
The trial of Hamia Ahmed Moussa, human rights defender, is held on 3 August in Dakhla in the presence of lawyers Dazaid Lehmad from El Ayoun and Richard Sédiot from Paris, as well as a large audience. He is sentenced to 2 months' prison and a fine of 1000 dirhams.

10.08.05, Hunger Strike
In Casablanca the trades unionist and human rights activist, Jaïm Mohamed starts an open hunger strike outside the entrance to Oukacha prison, to protest against the refusal of visiting rights for the incarcerated political prisoners.
Four of the Saharawi political prisoners are on hunger strike, some since 2 August, are starting to show health problems. Thus Abdelaziz Day was taken to hospital, while for four others the prison refuses this measure.

12.08.05, Sit-in
The families of the political prisoners at Casablanca are in sit-in at the prison asking for visits, better conditions of detention etc
[read more and photos]

12.08.05, illegal transfer and violation of fundamental rights
The lawyers of the political prisoners , in a
statement denounce the bad conditions of detention and illegal procedures and launch an urgent appeal "to all jurists around the world to pressure the Moroccan judicial authorities so as to compel them respect human rights and the fundamental conditions for fair judgement and so as they submit to the requests of the strikers".

REFERENDUM

05.08.05, Appointment
The UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, informed the Security Council of his decision to appoint an  Italian, Francesco Bastagli, to the post of head of MINURSO. Mr. Bastagli, who started his international career in the Organisation in 1974, is at present Deputy Special Representative for Civil Administration within the United Nations interim administration in Kosovo (MINUK).[
UN News]

08.05, Report
In this report of the Secretary General, Kofi Annan, submitted through the application of resolution 59/131 of the General Assembly dated 10 December 2004, he summarises the reports which he has presented to the Security Council on the situation in Western Sahara over the year long period from 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005. [
Report  A/60/116 (PDF))] [arabic (PDF)]

MAURITANIA

03.08.05, Coup d'Etat
A group of officers take power during a bloodless coup, while the head of state is abroad.

04.08.05.
24 hours after his coming to power, Colonel Ely Ould Mohamed Vall, President of the Military Council for Justice and Democracy, CMJD, had an audience with Yassine Mansouri, special counselor of the King of Morocco and his special envoy. Mansouri is head of the DGED (Direction Générale des Etudes et de la Documentation), the Moroccan CIA.

On 06.08.05, he receives the Saharawi minister for occupied territories and communities, El Khalil Sid M'Hamed.

MOROCCO

30.07.05
Enthronement speech 2005,
In his speech the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI emphasises the "unanimous attachment [of the Moroccan people] to the territorial integrity" of Morocco, its "secular patriotism", its "permanent and indestructible attachment to the 'moroccan-ness' of [its] Sahara", which becomes thus for Morocco an "existential" value. The question of the Sahara is no longer, in the eyes of the king, a question of "frontiers and distance", but the very raison d'être of the Moroccan people.
Making allusion to recent events in the occupied territories, M6 salutes the "vigilance, the firmness, the sang-froid and the attachment to the primacy of the law, which the public, civil and military powers, the security forces, the Royal Gendarmerie and the auxiliary forces have shown" against the Saharawi independentists. He thus gives the green light to pursuing the repression, the arrests and the torture against those who "seek to attack the national sentiment".
The only concrete measure the king announces is "a re-structuring of the Royal Consultative Council for the Affairs of the Sahara"... [Read the commentary of a Saharawi living under Moroccan occupation, en
français]

SPAIN

02.08.05
In an open letter sent to the daily El Mundo, the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs defends himself against criticism addressed to his government in relation to the Sahara. He believes that Spain cannot commit itself in favour of independence for the Sahara. The solution to the problem lies in the hands of the protagonists assisted by the UN. The referendum is not a solution. Spain remains therefore in favour of a political solution on the basis of negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario Front, and not in favour of the implementation of the UN resolutions.
A week later, Moratinos announces a joint franco-hispanic diplomatic tour of the Maghreb.

HUMAN RIGHTS

Open letter from Saharawi political prisoners to the President of the UN's Sub-Commission on Human Rights. (SPS) [arabic]

HUMANITARIAN AID

10.08.05, Europe
Commission allocates 9.3 million euros to aid Sahrawi refugees.[
Statement]

SOLIDARITY

Demonstrations of solidarity with the Saharawi political prisoners and in favour of their release are held in Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Norway.

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