WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 39 - 40 : 25.09.-08.10.2005

original french

 

SADR

16-23.09.05, SADR
A Venezuelan delegation is carrying out a working visit in the Saharawi Republic, in the context of bi-lateral agreements signed in October 2004. The delegation led by the general director of the administrative management of the Ministry for Health, Dr Alberto Randon, will evaluate needs in the areas of health and training. "I come bearing a message of support and solidarity from the President Hugo Chavez and all the people in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the Saharawi people and their heroic struggle for self-determination and independence", Mr Randon declared during a reception. [SPS]

01.10.05, SADR
The National Conference for developing good governance finishes its session with the adoption of a series of measures which should allow greater participation of the population in the management of their own affairs.

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO

Following the publication of photos of the inside of the black prison and the wave of indignation and protests it provoked, the Moroccan authorities take steps. Repressive ones towards those presumed guilty and cosmetic in regard to prison management.

22.09.05, investigation
Mohamed Lididi, secretary general of the Ministry of Justice visits the Black Prison "in the context of actions undertaken to improve the conditions of detention", in the company of television crews. He declares that "the situation of the detainees in El Ayoun's prison does not differ from that in other prisons of the kingdom, there is no reason for concern about El Ayoun". The inquiry of the Royal Public Prosecutor to the El Ayoun court of appeal reveals a so-called "montage" created from whole cloth". Three common law detainees are designated by name as guilty of having brought in a camera and set up the photos. The three accused are tortured, one of them placed in isolation.

23.09.05
Moroccan television broadcasts reports on the Black Prison. A delegation from AMDH, FVJ and the national prison watch asks to be received by the minister for Justice, to check the state of health of the hunger strikers. The Minister is absent. A delegation from the CCDH led by Assia el Ouadie, visits the black prison and meets Haidar and Hamad.  

24.09.05
The prison population of the Black Prison is progressively reduced: over 80 detainees are released before time, 72 are transferred to Aït Melloul. In Aït Melloul 40 detainees are transferred to Tiznit, 30 to Taroudant, including many Saharawis. The walls of the black prison are whitewashed and painted.

26.09.-02.10.05, visit
A group of Spanish journalists from the written press, radio and television, invited to Morocco, travels to El Ayoun on 27 and 28 September. A visit of the Black Prison is forbidden. Certain journalists succeed in meeting Saharawi human rights activists. [-->
see articles under publications]

23.09.05, Morocco appeals to UN
The permanent representative of Morocco with the United Nations, Mohamed Bennouna, hands a letter to the president of the Security Council to denounce the recent popular revolt in Western Sahara, which he calls an "enterprise of diversion and propaganda carried out in the Moroccan Sahara" by means of "violent criminal acts".  Morocco conformed " with the rule of law and procedures guaranteeing a fair trial", he claims... [
Texte intégral en français] The Algerian ambassador answers on 26.09.05. [full text]

23-24.09.05, El Ayoun
In the course of two nights SADR flags in various formats are hung in the principal streets and avenues of El Ayoun, including on electric poles. Several people are arrested and interrogated.

24.09.05, declaration
In the name of the Saharawi political prisoners, their spokesman, Ali Salem Tamek denounces the hypocrisy of the Moroccan authorities.
[statement] [Communiqué] [comuncado]

26.09.05, Assa
On the occasion of the 50th day of hunger strike, hundreds of Saharawi citizens organise, in "Mohamed El Moutawakil" boulevard, a demonstration of solidarity with the Saharawi political prisoners, calling for their immediate release and condemning the indifference of Rabat in the face of this tragedy. [
photos]

26.09.05, European Union
A member of the European Parliament, Marta Vincenzi, PSE (Italy), expresses before the European Parliament in a plenary session on 26 September in Strasbourg, her indignation at the Moroccan human rights abuses against the Saharawi people. She calls for the release of Saharawi political prisoners and the recognition of the Saharawi Republic.[
full text fr es it]

28.09.05, El Ayoun
Lehsen Zraiguinat, on temporary release, is presented to the court, who postpone their deliberations until 26 October, despite the request of the accused to be tried immediately. He is asking to be accused of a concrete act, declaring that the police who arrested him accuse him of having tried to kill the governor, while the instructing magistrate presumes him guilty of destruction of public property.

29.09.05
According to the official agency MAP, a six-person multi-disciplinary medical commission, under a Moroccan Red Crescent mandate, is said to have carried out medical examinations of the detainees of the Black Prison. Their state of health did not arouse anxiety, according to a member of the delegation. The commission is alleged to have had talks with the detainees who presented their demands (improvement in prison conditions, adequate medical care, family visits), it is claimed. The commission will pay regular visits to the detainees.

29.09.05, hunger strike suspended
After 51 days on hunger strike, the Saharawi political prisoners decide on a "provisional" end to the strike, in response to an appeal by their families, fearing serious consequences for their health. They maintain their "strong" attachment to the Saharawi people's right to self-determination and call on the UN to implement it urgently. They pay tribute to the wide movement of solidarity which has developed around the world and call for the lifting of the security and media blockade imposed on the towns of Western Sahara and to open the territory to observers. [
statement] [communiqué] [comunicado]  

The prisoners' hunger strike has had significant repercussions in Western Sahara, in Morocco and on the international level. Finally parliaments, governments and international bodies, the UN, UNHCR, EU have taken up the problem, after numerous popular demonstrations principally in Spain, without forgetting the interventions of Amnesty International., the World Committee against Torture (OMCT) etc...
If the worst has been avoided, there are still dozens of innocent people in prison for over 4 months, including some who are still awaiting trial or sentencing.

28.09.05, Spain
Demonstrations took place simultaneously on Wednesday in Madrid, Malaga, Almeria, Cordoba, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Sopela, Santander  in solidarity with the 37 Saharawi political prisoners and on the occasion of a high level meeting between Spain and Morocco which was opening on Wednesday in Cordoba and continuing until Thursday in Seville between the Head of the Spanish government and his Moroccan counterpart. On 01.10.05 a solidarity fast in Palma de Majorca followed, and on the 8th in Valencia.

28.09.05, France
A "Committee for the respect of human rights and liberties in Morocco" is created in Paris to alert French and international opinion. Four associations organise 8 hours of solidarity with the Saharawi people and the political prisoners on hunger strike on Wednesday 5 October in Paris.

30.09.05, SADR
The Saharawi president congratulates the 37 hunger strikers, saying that they have achieved the basic objectives of the strike: the revelation of the repressive nature of the Moroccan regime, winning the solidarity of the Moroccan people and international support.[
full text SPS]

01.10.05, SADR
The Human Rights department at the SADR presidency calls for an international inquiry into human rights abuses in Western Sahara. [
Full text SPS]

03.10.05, Saharawi students arrested in Casablanca
Saharawi students were attacked inside the university residential city of Casablanca by employees of the city on the instructions of the director who ransacked their rooms, destroyed documents, computers and other personal belongings. The police made over 45 arrests. The Saharawi students who had been arrested were released after having been interrogated for 24 hours.
The incidents apparently began when the Saharawi students defended a sit-in by Amazigh students outside the campus, and were attacked by agents of the city. An event on the same scale had already taken place on 22 June this year in the same university. The director was dismissed.

03.10.05, El Ayoun
A demonstration of parents of Saharawi political prisoners outside the black prison was rapidly and violently dispersed, the demonstrators then met outside MINURSO's headquarters. The deplored as ever the injuries and the questioning. [
photos]

04.10.05, Marrakech
Appearance before the court of first instance of 11 students accused after the May demonstrations and let go into temporary freedom. The trial was postponed until 8 November.

05.10.05, Goulimin
Three young Saharawi trades unionists, members of the UMT, Khadija Moutik, transferred against her will on 12 September last, Bouda Aziza mint Mohamed El Bouda and Attifa S'ghayar (Esghir) are arrested. They took part in the sit-in organised by the provincial branch of the UMT to protest against involuntary transfers. This sit-in, brutally dispersed, took place when the King of Morocco visited Goulimin.

05.10.05
European Day of Solidarity with the Saharawi political prisoners
Demonstrations, fasts of solidarity, sit-ins and motions of support marked this action in various towns of Italy, France, the Netherlands and Spain.

07.10.05
Saharawi human rights defenders incarcerated in the prisons of Aït Melloul and Oukacha in Casablanca are transferred to the Black Prison in El Ayoun.

REFERENDUM

27.09.05, Norway
The Norwegian Committee for Western Sahara recommends, in a letter to the three parties  needing to form a new government, that they should develop a more active policy on Western Sahara, founded on the efforts of the United Nations and international law. This new policy should include wider support for the right to self-determination and the rights of Saharawis in the occupied territories, as well as recognition and an increase in humanitarian aid. The committee also asks for the immediate end to imports coming from Western Sahara and that of investment in the region.[
statement]

26-27.09.05, France &endash; Morocco
The French Prime Minister made his first visit to Morocco since his appointment on 31 May last. On this occasion the Socialist Youth Movement (MJS) asks the French government in a statement to intervene with Rabat to release the 37 Saharawi political prisoners.
During an interview with MAP before his departure, de Villepin calls for "direct dialogue" between Morocco and Algeria to settle the question of the Sahara, "a key element in the integration of the Maghreb". "I believe in the virtues of direct dialogue", he affirmed. On the other hand he declares that "France is within the European Union the most ardent advocate for Morocco". In Morocco he says he is "convinced that only a political solution [to the Sahara conflict] will be possible. This solution must be found within the framework of the United Nations".
The Prime Minister announces that France sees itself vouchsafing the renovation of the main body of military aviation in Morocco, a fleet off 27 F1 CH and EH Mirages (aerial defence and bombers) sold by Dassault at the end of the 1980s. [Le Monde, 28.09.05]

In reaction to this information the Saharawi government wishes to "warn of the enormous dangers that could result", considering that "this French step is an action ill-adapted to this point in time", characterised by Morocco's persistence in defying the international community by pursuing its systematic violations of human rights in the occupied territories of Western Sahara.

26.09.05, sanctions
The Secretary General of the Polisario Front demands instantly that the Security Council should impose on the Moroccan government the necessary sanctions with a view to bringing it to conform with the resolutions permitting the Saharawi people to exercise its inalienable right to self-determination", writes Mohamed Abdelaziz in a missive sent on Monday by the Polisario Front representative at the United Nations, Mr. Ahmed Boukhari, to the President of the Security Council. [
full text SPS]

25.09.05, statement
In an interview to the agency, Europa Press, the Moroccan Foreign Ministry number two, Tayeb Fassi Fihri, declares that Morocco is disposed to negotiate with the Polisario Front within the framework of the UN for an autonomy for Western Sahara, which would be neither independence nor total integration and to submit this status to the vote. "We want a rapid solution because this problem of the Sahara is an obstacle for the Maghreb", he declares. [
original text spanish]

Reactions

For Khaddad, the Saharawi responsible for relations with the UN, "this is déjà vu", these are ways out which do not conceal the blockage and intransigence of Morocco and its scorn for international law." "There will be no solution outside the democratic and internationally recognised framework of self-determination for the Saharawi people".
For Ould Salek, the Saharawi minister for Foreign Affairs. "autonomy for Western Sahara is an old idea which has been constantly rejected by the Saharawi people and by the international community". "The United Nations is always calling Morocco to implement the resolutions adopted by the Security Council, which considers that the Settlement Plan of 1990-91 or the Baker plan off 2003 are the only solutions and contexts for the legal conclusion of the process of decolonization of Western Sahara".
For the Saharawi agency, SPS, "by this scandalous declaration, Mr Fassi is trying to create confusion in the minds of thos concerned by the dramatic situation of systematic human rights abuses of the most fundamental kind, which the Saharawi populace are experiencing under Moroccan occupation, but also to make it believed that Morocco is "proposing" or more precisely "is counting on proposing" a political proposal capable of resolving the problem in the blinking of an eye. The Moroccan government has clearly proposed to the international community to turn the page of international law and the sanction once and for all the Moroccan colonial fait accompli."

29.09.05, UN
Coming from Rabat, the new special representative for Western Sahara, Francesco Bastagli, meets for the first time, the Saharawi authorities. Khaddad informs him on the human rights violations in Western Sahara and on the "blockage created by the Moroccan government on the family exchange visits for Saharawis. [see
full text of the declaration] Mr. Bastagli is received by the Saharawi president. The two officials underline "the necessity to move the decolonization process on for Western Sahara by the implementation of the Security Council's peace plan through MINURSO". Mr Bastagli had visited earlier occupied Western Sahara and had talked with the governor of El Ayoun, Cherki Draiss and with Hamid Chabbar, the Moroccan in charge of liaison with MINURSO.

After an interview with the Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Bedjaoui, on 1 October in Algiers, the UN official declares that the Baker plan constitutes a fundamental document for the resolution of the conflict of the Sahara. At the end of his tour, F. Bastagli talks on 4 Octoebr to the head of the Mauritanian state, Colonel Ely ould Mohamed Vall.

03.10.05, confidence-building measures
Morocco indicates to F. Bastagli, in Geneva, its agreement for the resumption of the operation of exchange visits between the population in the camps and their relatives in Western Sahara. The visits were interrupted at the end of December 2004 following Moroccan intransigence.

05-07.10.05
60th Session of UN General Assembly, Meeting of the Fourth Committee, Special Political and Decolonisation Committee.A
s each year, the question of Western Sahara is on the agenda of the business of this committee, which concerns itself with the sixteen non-autonomous territories figuring on the list of the UN and whose administrative authorities number five, namely, United Kingdom, United States, New Zealand, France and Spain. Concerning Western Sahara, we point out that the representatives of South Africa, Tanzania, Cuba, the Rio group and Algeria intervened in favour of a rapid solution respecting the right to self-determination of the population of the former Spanish colony and the implementation of the Baker Plan, refused by Morocco.
A great number of petitioners made interventions along these lines:
- members of the US Congress, NGOs and American churches engaged in aiding the refugees, Defense Forum Foundation, Cynthia Basinet...
- elected members and representatives of human rights NGOs from Spain, a priest of the Canary delegation which visited El Ayoun last September, representatives of FEDISSAH, from the observation mission from the general council of Spanish barristers, committees of support from Belgium, Sweden, Norway, the Canary Islands, the Netherlands, the American Association of Lawyers, the International Platform of Jurists for East Timor, the International Association of Lawyers for Western Sahara, OXFAM, EUCOCO, Western Sahara Resource Watch, etc. [offcial UN press releases and some petitions see on
special page]

UN Agenda about Western Sahara for October 2005

First tour of the personal representative of the UN Secretary General:
The new personal representative, Peter van Walsum, will be in Morocco on 12 and 13 October, on 14 and 15 in Tindouf, on 15 and 16 in Algiers and on 17 in Nouakchott and Madrid.

31 of october end of MINURSO mandate
SG report is due to 17.0.05. Consultations of the Security Council on day 24,10, meeting on 28.10 for adoption of a new resolution.

MOROCCO

27.09.05
King's letter to the ICRC
Mohamed VI writes that Morocco is still waiting to be informed on the fate of 210 disappeared persons, adding that "the return of the last detainees to the bosom of their families does not close for all that the humanitarian case of the conflict of the Sahara". It must be emphasised that Morocco denied for a long time, until a recent date, the existence of Moroccan prisoners in the hands of the Polisario Front.

30.09.05, illegal immigration
Ali Lmrabet, a Moroccan journalist, declares in Madrid that Morocco is using illegal immigration in its negotiations with Spain in order to receive more aid and to bring pressure to bear on the question of Western Sahara and human rights in Morocco. [
EFE]

The seriousness of the problem with recent assaults on the barriers erected around the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla or the deportation in contempt of any legality of a thousand illegal immigrants to the Algerian and Mauritanian frontiers by Moroccan authorities shows a will of the latter to implicate neighbouring states in the crisis.

MAURITANIA

02.10.05
Questioned by F. Soudan, the head of the Mauritanian state declares: "as for the Sahara affair, our position is known: strict neutrality, perfect conformity with international decisions on the matter and seeking constantly for a consensual solution." [
Jeune Afrique/L'intelligent]

03.10.05
Concerning the question of Western Sahara, Colonel Ely Ould Mohamed Vall underlined that "perfect conformity with international decisions and "seeking constantly for a consensual solution",  demarcate the positions of Mauritania on the conflict between Morocco and SADR. [El Moudjahid, Alger]

SOLIDARITY

23-25.09.05, EUCOCO
Annual meeting of the European committees of support for the Saharawi people in the presence of a delegation of the Algerian Committee of support for the Saharawi people and representatives of SADR, including the president of the parliament. Over 3 days the participants worked in workshops on the themes of political action, humanitarian aid, human rights, support for women and youth. [
final resolution and other documents] http://www.arso.org/eucoco2005.htm

Three Moroccan journalists who tried to participate in this meeting, which is not public, were taken aside by the participants, the incident was inflated and exploited in an ill-intentioned way and was the subject of a statement from the Belgian journalists trades union and the International Federation of Journalists who condemned the "violent attacks" against three Moroccan journalists in Belgium. [Communiqué] In his response the president of EUCOCO put the events into proportion.

28 September
AUSTRALIA WESTERN SAHARA ASSOCIATION
The Australian Western Sahara Association (AWSA) launched a sea container, painted by local artists, and full of books, sugar and lentils from local organisations, to the refugee camps in Algeria. Cate Lewis, secretary of AWSA (Victoria), explained some of the reasons behind sending the container: "...the container can be used as an outside art gallery in the bleak desert landscape of the camps. This launch is a significant event as this is the first container to go to the camps from Australia. We hope to draw attention to the plight of these long forgotten people. We know our solidarity will be appreciated." To celebrate this event, AWSA has holding an official launch of the container by Maria Vamvakinou MP at The Footscray Community Arts Centre, 45 Moreland Street, Wednesday 28 September. [
more]

COMING UP...

Barcelona: VUELO CHARTER de DICEMBRE 2005- 02. - 10.12.05. Info: ACAPS-CATALUNYA, Secció SAHANDREU

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