WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 37 - 38 : 11.09.-24.09.2005

original french

 

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO

HUNGER STRIKE

The state of health of the hunger strikers gets progressively worse. Every day strikers are hospitalised for examination and treatment following loss of consciousness, heart or digestive troubles or other symptoms. Among them, Aminatou Haidar, Hmad Hamad and Ali Salem Tamek have been hospitalised several times.

Abderrahman Bougarfa, Eljanhawi Lakhlifa, Badda Alamine, Aalouate Sidi Mohamed and Bouchama Naffaa are temporarily admitted to hospital.

Some are given a drip against their will. All are subjected to pressure to give up their strike, but refuse so long as their demands are not met. The majority are sent back to prison after a few hours. To pick out the most serious cases, there are Taoubbali Elhafed and Baba El Arabi, incarcerated at Aït Melloul and hospitalised for ten days at Inzegane; Ameidan Elouali, who had just undergone surgery, was attacked by police from GUS in his hospital room, who beat him and knocked him out of the bed, pulling out his drip. Despite his cries , the four policemen in charge of supervising him do not intervene. These facts are denounced by the family to the public prosecutor.

On 14.09, Lehsen Zreiguinat, in a very bad state of health in the Black Prison, was taken before the tribunal on a stretcher carried by four common law prisoners, according to AMDH. The president, considering that his state of health was so precarious, sends him back to the public prosecutor, who sends him to prison, who then send him home...His family then hospitalise him. [photos]

Family visits are alternately suspended, permitted and then forbidden again.

Photos taken inside the Black Prison of El Ayoun show the claustrophobic conditions prevailing in that extremely crowded penitentiary --> PHOTOS. (In May 2004 already, the CCDH noted that the number of prisoners housed in this prison amounted to 407% of its capacity. Weeks 19-20/2004)
The General Prosecutor of Laayoune appellate court orders a judicial inquiry on 23.09.05 to identify the origin of the pictures from inside the prison, he qualified as "a sheer montage".[MAP] The Saharawi political prisoners by the voice of their spokesperson Ali Salem Tamek issued an
explanatory statement.

see also detailed chronology

see also List of the Saharawi political prisoners of the intifada - detailed list - hungerstrikers list

DEMONSTRATIONS - REPRESSION

11.09.05, El Ayoun
Demonstration by several dozen young Saharawis in Mezwar Street. Immediate police intervention.

11.09.05, Assa
Popular march from Lawina Street, re-named Mohamed Elmoutaouakil, to the central square renamed Ali Salem Tamek. Heavy concentration of police. The demonstrators call for immediate satisfaction of the demands of the Saharawi political prisoners. At the end of the demonstration the former political prisoner from the 1992 intifada in Assa, Baj Elhoucine, reads an appeal of solidarity with the strikers. [
photos]

12.09.05, Goulimine
Khadija Moutik is sacked from her job in the municipality of Goulimine for having taken part in the march in Asrir. She had already been subjected to considerable pressure.

16.09.05, El Ayoun
New demonstration of several dozen young Saharawis against the Moroccan presence, very rapidly dispersed by police forces.

17.09.05, Tantan, Southern Morocco
The secret services summon a Saharawi citizen, Hassana Mohamed Elhafed, at the entrance of the Mougar. He is interrogated for 2 hours on the subject of his brother, a former disappeared, on his relations with Saharawi human rights activists as well as on the reasons for his repeated visits to the Mougar. The Mougar, a famous traditional cultural festival and tourist attraction of repute, which runs from 14-18.09.0,  is placed under strict security control.

19.09.05, Dakhla
A demonstration in favour of the release of the political prisoners is brutally dispersed. Aoulad Chij Elmahyoub is beaten up and suffers multiple hematomas (bruising). He is a human rights activist, a member of the Committee against torture in Dakhla, a former prisoner and brother of a disappeared, forbidden to travel to Geneva for the session of the Commission of Human Rights in March 2003. Mustafa Tekhrour, another human rights activist, presents head wounds, several broken teeth and multiple hematomas. Summoning of a dozen persons. Boycott of classes in the high schools. [
photos]

19.09.05, Fask, Southern Morocco
Demonstrations in favour of the release of political prisoners.

20.09.05, El Ayoun
Questioning at their home, rue Rass Alkhaima, of Ettarki Maalainine  and the husband of his sister, Mohamed Salem Zraiguinat. The two Saharawis are interrogated for a long time about the demonstrations. Ettarki had tried, in 2003, to get to the Saharawi refugee camps in Algeria.

REACTIONS -INTERVENTIONS - APPEALS

11.09.05, Algiers
For the Saharawi ambassador in Algiers, Mohamed Yeslem Beissat, "Morocco and the UN alone assume responsibility for the deterioration in the state of health of the 37 Saharawi hunger strikers". He calls on the international community and international public opinion to intervene urgently to "save the lives of the Saharawi political prisoners", on hunger strike for the 34th day already."

12.09.05, USA
Letter http://www.spsrasd.info/sps-e130905.html#5 in favour of the Saharawi political prisoners by eight congressmen and a senator to the Moroccan Prime Minister, Driss Jettou, joined on 15.09.05 by another member of the Congress, Cynthia McKinney. [PDF]

12-15.09.05, Great Britain
During its annual congress, the British Trades Union Council condemns the recent violence of the Moroccan State against the Saharawi citizens starting 25 May 2005 within the occupied territories of Western Sahara in El Ayoun.[
motion 78]

13.09.05, Spain
A resolution is adopted unanimously by the parliament. It condemns the repression against the Saharawi population, demands that it ends immediately and calls for the release of Saharawi political prisoners. It asks for the intervention of the UN, EU, AU to put pressure on Morocco to require the opening of the territory to international observers. It pronounces itself finally favourable to the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people. [
SPS]

13.09.05, Morocco
In its response to the AMDH, which had expressed concern over the fate of the Saharawi prisoners, the Minister for Justice declares that the prisoners are enjoying medical treatment and the same rights as all the other prisoners in Morocco.

14.09.05: The European parlamentary Intergroup writes to the president of the EP before his visit to Morocco. [spanish]

14.09.05: The "Collective of the Saharawi human rights' Defenders in the Occupied Territories of Western Sahara" addressed a letter to the UN Secretary General and the 15 permanent of the UN Security Council's member States.

14.09.05: A delegation from Canary Islands elected politicians is is not authorised to disembark at El Ayoun airport.

14.09.05, Basque Country: Demonstrations in Bilbao and Vitoria.

14.09.05, Stockholm: Demonstration outside the Moroccan embassy against the occupation of the Sahara and human rights abuses. Several Swedish politicians associate themselves with the protest.

15.09.05, Spain
Through a
statement the Spanish Committee monitoring the hunger strike sends information about the serious situation of the strikers.

15.09.05, Brussels
Mohamed Sidati, Saharawi Minister delegate for Europe, member of the National Secretariat of the Polisario Front, is received at the European Commission by the Director General of International Relations, Eneko Landáburu. The humanitarian, legal and political aspects of the conflict in Western Sahara are tackled in the course of this meeting. [SPS]

15.09.05, SADR
The President of the Republic, Mohamed Abdelaziz, sends an open letter to the world leaders meeting for the 60th UN summit in New York, in which he appeals for the decolonization of Western Sahara and for the release of Saharawi political prisoners in Morocco. [SPS]

15.09.05, Spain
The delegate for Western Sahara of the Spanish Bar Council, Inès Miranda, spoke about the critical situation of the Saharawi prisoners in Las Palmas (Gran Canaria), on the occasion of the Juan María Bandrés prize-giving. A special mention was made to the Council for its work for Saharawi human rights defenders in prison.

15.09.05, Morocco
The Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) responds, in a long statement, to the allegations of the Minister for Justice. It reaffirms that the hunger strike is still going on and that the strikers are "in a dangerous and potentially tragic situation", because of "the negative and inhuman"and "irresponsible"  way of managing the situation by the Minister for Justice. The AMDH asks the Minister to permit international human rights organisations and the national and foreign press to visit the civil prisons of El Ayoun, Ait Melloul and Oukacha in Casablanca, to "judge for themselves the veracity of the statement by the Moroccan Ministry for Justice". [
Reuters, 16.09.05] [EFE, 16.09.05]

15.09.05, Letter to the Moroccan Minister for the Interior
The President of the Human Rights Committee of the Swedish Parliament, Veronica Palm, expresses her deep concern about the Moroccan human rights abuses in the occupied territories of Western Sahara, calling on Rabat to respect the right of Saharawi political detainees to a fair sentence and decent treatment.

16.09.05, Geneva
The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) expresses its "deep concern as to the security and physical and psychological well-being of the Saharawi political prisoners on hunger strike since 9 August 2005". It calls on the Moroccan government to take the necessary measures to give the strikers "access to free adequate medical assistance, and that their demands should be taken into account as soon as possible.   [
Seguimiento Caso MAR 020905]

18.09.05, Barcelona: A token hunger strike in solidarity with the 37 Saharawi political prisoners ended on this Sunday at 12 o'clock after a 24 hour fast. [pictures: [1] [2]

19.09.05, Finland: The Human Rights Committee of the Finnish Parliament sends a letter to the Moroccan Prime Minister asking for the immediate release of Haidar and Tamek.

19.09.05, Casablanca, Oukacha
A delegation of the CCDH (Consultative Council on Human Rights - an institution set up by the king) pays a visit to the four activists imprisoned at Oukacha. They explain the situation and their demands and say they would agree to stop the hunger strike if these are met (improvement in the conditions of incarceration, return of all the prisoners to El Ayoun).

19.09.05, Algiers
The Saharawi Ambassador to Algeria, Beissat, expresses the view in a press conference that "the King of Morocco, Mohamed VI, his Government and the powers that support him", are responsible for the danger of death faced by the Saharawi political prisoners.

19.09.05, UN
The Polisario Front representative with the United Nations, Ahmed Boukhari, calls on the President of the Security Council, Mr. Lauro L. Baja, to require the Moroccan Government to release all the Saharawi political prisoners and to reveal the truth about the 500 disappeared Saharawis and the 151 prisoners of war.

20.09.05, Morocco
The Minister for Justice, in an interview, finally acknowledges the existence of the Saharawi prisoners' hunger strike, whom he refuses to recognise as political. They are suspected of criminal acts. Their transfer from the Sahara to Morocco allegedly took place at their request. He qualifies their demands of lifting the state of siege in Western Sahara and of the immediate release without trial as aberrant and unacceptable. According to him, the conditions of incarceration have been improved. Legal system holidays being now over, the case will be open and the detainees transferred to El Ayoun. [
Aujourd'hui le Maroc]

21.09.05, UN
A UN spokesman, Stephan Dujarric declares that the high commissioner for human rights, Mrs Louise Arbour, as well as the Human Rights Commission, are concerned about the problem of the Saharawi prisoners on hunger strike. [
Reuters] [EFE / Terra.es]

21-22.09.05, El Ayoun-Casablanca
A delegation from Galicia (Spain), made up of members of the regional parliament of Galicia and representatives of social and trades union organisations, who wished to travel to El Ayoun to get a picture of the situation, is not authorised to disembark, but is turned around in Casablanca, where the police confiscate their passports during a wait of 10 hours and prevent the 13 members of the delegation from leaving the plane. It is the eighth Spanish delegation turned back.

21.09.05, El Ayoun
In an appeal to international human rights organisations and to world opinion, the families of Saharawi prisoners demand that pressure should be exercised on Morocco to open negotiations with the strikers in order to avoid a human tragedy. The families point out that out of 37 prisoners 15 still await trial since 25 May. [
english]

21.09.05, Belgium: "Belgium should bring the situation up with the Moroccan authorities" - Press statement from the Young Socialists of animo and MJS.

21.09.05, Spain
Writers are mobilising in favour of the Saharawi prisoners:['Escritores por el Sáhara' instan a la sociedad y a la ONU a actuar en favor de los prisioneros políticos.[
Llamamiento a la sociedad del grupo "escritores por el sáhara"] [El Mundo, 22.09.05]

21.09.05, Basque Country: Demonstration in Leioa.

22.09.05, Polisario Front
The Polisario Front representative in Spain accuses the Moroccan government off having something to hide, since he continues to expell delegations attempting to travel to Western Sahara.

22.09.05, Morocco
The Secretary General of the Ministry of Justice declares on Moroccan TV that the situation of the Saharawi prisoners is no different from that of other prisoners in the kingdom. They benefit from medical care for the slightest symptom and at the least sign of fatigue, "there is nothing to be worried or concerned about".

24.09.05
The
letter of amnesty international Spain to be sent to the Moroccan minister of justice to denounce detention and torture of the HR activistsreached 29'223 signatures untill now. It can be signed on : http://www.es.amnesty.org/actua/sahara_sep05/

REFERENDUM

14.09.05, Morocco-Europe
The President of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell declares in Rabat that the Baker plan for the self-determination of the Saharawi people "is the only plan recognised on an international level in the framework of the United Nations". The European Parliament takes up and "is concerned" about the question of Western Sahara, "but we think that the solution should be provided by the UN".

14.09.05, American statements
The American Senator, Lugar, when he welcomed the Moroccan prisoners to Agadir, expressed the hope that "a happy outcome for this humanitarian problem would inspire renewed efforts to work for a political solution, within the context of the UN" and called on Morocco and Algeria to "seize the opportunity presented by the liberation of the last remaining prisoners to create a regional climate favourable to a settlement of the question of the Sahara" [Rabat, 18.08.05].
The US Ambassador in Morocco, Riley, declares on the subject of the problem of Western Sahara that "we think that its a regional problem between Morocco and Algeria and that these two countries should find the solution together", and adds : "We are happy to help and encourage and we will try to strengthen their relations" [Rabat, 8.9.05]
The deputy spokesman of the Department of State, Adam Earley, affirms in an interview that "the American government will continue to work with Morocco and Algeria in order to reach a political settlement on the question of the Sahara, within the framework of the United Nations", and that Washington will continue "to work with the United Nations and with our friends in North Africa to support and advance in the American process. But for the moment, I do not think that we have precise initiatives".[Rabat, MAP, 14.09.05]

15.09.05, Spain
The Spanish Prime Minister, Rodríguez Zapatero, during a press update at New York at the seat of the UN, considers that the solution to the Saharawi conflict lies in the hands of the UN and that Spain has only a secondary role to play.

19.09.05, Spain
Press conference of the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Miguel Angel Moratinos, at the office of the Spanish representation in New York.
Aftern meeting the Saharawi Ministger for Foreign Affairs, Ould Salek, Moratinos expresses the view that there is at present a more favourable climate for the UN to be able to resolve the question of the Sahara. "A new dynamic must be given to the problem, it is urgent and it is necessary", he declares. He announces for the start of October the visit to the Maghreb and Madrid of the new UN special representative. Moratinos undertakes to pass on to Morocco the concerns of the Saharawi minister about the Saharawi prisoners.

20.09.05, UN
In his speech before the UN during the General Assembly on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the international organisation, the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs asks the world to give high priority to directing its attention to the conflict in the Sahara, so as to reach a solution within the framework of the United Nations. (agencies)
 

SOLIDARITY

11.09.05
A delegation representing the Polisario Front and the Saharawi people successfully took part in the Peace Race, organised annually in Göthenburg City in Sweden which is attented by thousands of people from inside and outside Sweden.

22.09.05
A delegation of the Saharawi Women's Union is on tour in Great Britain. It has met representatives of political parties and members of parliament as well as NGOs and trades unions. It will participate in the annual congress of the Labour Party from 25 to 29.09.05.

COMING UP...

Special Screening on Capitol Hill , Washington, USA
Friday, September 30, 2005 9:30 AM-10:30 AM (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada), 2200 Rayburn House Office Building: "Western Sahara: Africa's Last Colony"
A Documentary on the Experiences of the Struggles of the Sahrawi People. Filmmaker JoMarie Fecci will be present. For
more information

SOLIDARITE JEUNESSE: Chantier Franco-Allemand-Italien en Languedoc Roussillon soutenu par l'OFAJ du 1er au 22 octobre (Office franco-allemand pour la Jeunesse/ Deutsch-französisches Jugendwerk) http://www.ofaj.org/ Contact: workcamp@solidaritesjeunesses.org

Congrès de la Jeunesse sahraouie UJSARIO - Campements de réfugiés 19-26.11.05
Le comité de jumelage de Rossignano Marritimo /Livourne organise un vol charter depuis Rome. Info: Comitato di Gemellaggio di Rosignano Marittimo:  cogemel@gemellagiorossignano.191.it o ANSPS ansps@libero.it

CONCENTRACIONES: Miercoles 28.09.05, dia de accion defensa de los derechos humanos y solidaridad con los presos politicos saharauis en hulga de hambre

INTERNET

The report from El Aaiun in February 2005 that was published in the Swedish magazine "Arbetaren" No. 19/2005, has now been translated into English:
«A minority in their own country», Report from El Aaiun, occupied territories. Western Sahara. Joakim Blom, Martin Wikström, February 2005.

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