WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 41-42 : 09.10.-22.10.2005

original french

 

SADR

20.10.05, Official Visit
The President of the Republic, Mohamed Abdelaziz, is on an official visit of the Balearic Islands and the Basque Country. Mr Abdelaziz began his visit in Palma de Majorca in talks with Mr Jaume Matas, President of the Balearic Islands Government. He also met Mr Pere Rotger i Liabres, President of the Balearic Islands Parliament in the presence of members of the parliamentary intergroup, Peace for the Saharawi People, as well as other political officials. After a stop in Minorca, the Saharawi President will travel to the Basque Country.

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO

Intifada
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Detailed Chronology

Demonstrations against the Moroccan presence continue without stopping in the various localities of Western Sahara: nightly distribution of tracts and flags in El Ayoun on 7, 8, 9 and 13 October. Demonstrations against the ban on visits to the Black Prison on 7, 10 and 17 October. A sit-in for nearly a week in Boujdour, ends in bloodshed and is wound up with several arrests during a violent intervention by police forces on 13 October. As in El Ayoun, they ransack and pillage several houses of Saharawi families. These exactions provoke demonstrations of solidarity in Smara, El Ayoun and Dakhla, as well as new arrests. [Photos]

Confrontations are also happening in schools and lycées. In several educational establishments in El Ayoun, the students raised SADR flags or refused to sing the Moroccan national anthem, a daily requirement.

The Moroccan authorities continue searching for activists still at liberty, and arrest, beat up and interrogate several. On 11 and 12 October 14 detainees in the Black Prison, among them the seven human rights defenders are questioned by the instructing magistrate. They reiterate their positions and their demands. No date for their trial has yet been fixed.

Saharawi political prisoners announce the renewal on 20 October of the hunger strike, interrupted on 29 September. The reasons advanced are principally the refusal of the authorities to improve the conditions of their detention, to permit family visits and the worsening of the repression in general.

A Catalan delegation managed to get through security and visited Western Sahara on 12-16.10. See its report in Spanish.

The Moroccan Organisation for Human Rights, OMDH, publishes on 6 October a report on the events of El Ayoun, read an English translation. The Moroccan Association of Human Rights, AMDH, publishes a report on 15.10.05 of its commission of inquiry [French translation] - [original in Arabic]

07.10.05, Search for truth
The Body for Equity and Reconciliation (IER, official body, responsible for shedding light on the serious human rights abuses under the reign of Hassan II) announces having located the place of burial of 50 persons, victims of forced disappearance, including 43 Saharawis, in different cemeteries near the former secret prisons of Agdz, Kalaat Mgouna and Tagounit. The "identification" was made on the basis of witnesses from local authorities and former police officials. Among the victims are the father and mother of the present Saharawi Minister for Foreign Affairs, ould Salek. These Saharawis were arrested between 1975 and 1985 in the towns of El Ayoun, Smara, Boujdour (Western Sahara Occidental), Tan Tan and Assa (Southern Morocco). [communication from the IER with a list of victims,
french] [in Arabic] [Reuters,08.10.05] [AP. 09.01.05 ]

11.10.05
Families of deceased Saharawis in Moroccan prisons refuse to negotiate with the IER delegation, coming to present to them the results of their investigations. They reproach the IER for having tied up this chapter too quickly before the end of its mandate in November and in turning the page they mask the responsibility of the state and for refusing all their other legitimate requests. The families consider the number of dead and disappeared Saharawis to be several hundred. The families demand:

The AMDH, the Moroccan Forum for Truth and Justice-France and the Moroccan Committee of coordination of families of disappeared and victims of disappearance in Morocco have drawn up their own identical reservations and demands.

REFERENDUM

10.10.05, 60th session of the UN General Assembly &endash; Committee on special political questions and decolonization (fourth committee)
After hearing the last petitioners, the committee adopted without vote, the draft resolution which will now be put to the General Assembly (A/C4/60/L.4). The resolution emphasises that the question of Western Sahara remains a problem of decolonization, and that the Security Council, in its resolution 1495 (2003), supported the peace plan for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, which constitutes an optimal political solution resting on agreement between the two parties. It underlines also that the parties have reacted differently to this plan. It reaffirms the responsibility of the UN in relation to the people of Western Sahara. Furthermore, it invites the parties to cooperate with the ICRC in its efforts towards settling the problem of people gone missing and enjoins them to honour the obligation which is incumbent upon them, in virtue of international humanitarian law, to release without delay all persons held since the beginning of the conflict. [read
UN Press statement GA/SPD 317, 11.10.05] [other documents]

Reactions
In a declaration, the Saharawi Minister of Foreign Affairs expresses his satisfaction.
Full text.

12-17.10.05, UN: exploratory tour of the personal envoy of the Secretary General
Peter van Walsum carries out a tour of the region "for consultations with the Government of Morocco and with the Polisario Front, and meetings with the governments of the two neighbouring countries, Algeria and Mauritania", in the aim of evaluating the situation and to seek "the best way to get out of the present political impasse". He met in Rabat with the Prime Minister Driss Jettou and had talks the next day in Casablanca with King Mohamed VI.

The SG Personal Envoy arrives in SADR on 14.10.05. After a welcome by the people in the wilaya of Smara, the UN emissary meets the Prime Minister and chioukh, members of parliament and notables such as Med Khaddad, the Coordinator with MINURSO. During his talks with van Walsum, the Saharawi President submits that the rejection by Morocco of the very principle of self-determination was "a dangerous position creating a climate of tension in the region". Mr Abdelaziz showed concern about Moroccan intransigence, he argued "for a firm international measure of coercion", underlining that "the Baker Plan remains the optimal political solution" for the decolonization of Western Sahara.

On 15.10. van Walsum meets the Algerian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bedjaoui, as well as President Bouteflika. He describes his talks as interesting and useful, adding that the question of the Sahara "is characterised by a contradiction", in this sense that "the positions of the parties seem almost irreconcilable" but that "all the countries with whom I'm had contact only want one thing, which is that the question should be settled."

In Nouakchott van Walsum is received by the Prime Minister and the head of the ruling junta. He declares that "none of the parties involved seems disposed to make concessions" and that it is impossible to find a satisfactory solution for all the parties involved. The Special Representative continues his trip, which a Spanish journalist calls "the way of the cross" (via crucis), to Madrid and Paris, where he meets the respective foreign ministers.

Reaction of the Saharawi representative in Spain
"The question of Western Sahara is a question of decolonization and as a consequence, the UN doctrine on this matter must be applied", Brahim Ghali affirmed. "It is not a question of reconciling the parties, it's a matter of implementing international law. We are looking at a situation where there is an invader and the invaded, an attacker and the attacked, a colonizer and the colonized."

13.10.05, UN, report of the Secretary General S/2005/648 [PDF]
The report covers the period since 19 April 2005.
ofi Annan mentions the troubles which have taken place in the territory, the hunger strike of the Saharawi detainees, the numerous violations of the cease-fire by the two parties (infrastructure modernisation by Morocco, limitation by the Polisario Front of the movement of observers, movement of armed elements of both parties), the release of the last 404 Moroccan prisoners of war, the preoccupying situation of food for the Saharawi refugees, which is requiring supplementary aid, the re-starting of the program of visits as part of the confidence-building measures, and finally the problem of illegal immigration.

Despite the absence of progress towards a settlement, the Secretary General remains "committed to helping the parties to reach a mutually acceptable solution that would provide for self-determination of Western Sahara". In view of the current situation Kofi Annan believes that MINURSO should continue to play an important stabilizing and ceasefire monitoring role, he recommends the extension of its mandate for six months. Concerning human rights abuses, "whether in the territory or in the refugee camps", the UNHCR will make contact with the parties.

MOROCCO- WESTERN SAHARA - ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

The problem of illegal sub-saharan immigration through Morocco is shown to its full extent by the revelation of a brutal Moroccan policy. Put under pressure by Spain and the EU and called upon to stem the flow towards the north, Morocco has generalised the practice, already known, of depositing groups of people without any means of survival in the middle of the desert, near its frontiers. Since the beginning of September, the Moroccan authorities have thus cleared out 100-1500 persons by driving them in the first phase to the Algerian border. Under pressure from NGOs, they were then put back into buses and taken to the other end of Morocco.

While some of the sub-saharan Africans are repatriated to Senegal and Mali by air lift, others are dumped in Western Sahara and forced to cross the wall and minefields. Thanks to the tenacity of Moroccan and Spanish NGOs, and courageous journalists, these facts were revealed to world opinion to the displeasure of the Moroccan authorities, who tried to make the work of the journalists as difficult as possible, as well as that of the NGOs, UNHCR, drawing protests.[HCR]

The deported immigrants are progressively located, and brought to various places. Two MINURSO helicopters took part in the search for immigrants wandering in the desert.
Saharawi military patrols gather up, in the space of a week, over a hundred people condemned to a certain death.
Despite reports from Médecins du monde, who are caring for the survivors in Bir Lahlou, (liberated territories of SADR) and
MINURSO taking part in these rescue operations, the Moroccan authorities "firmly" deny having expelled immigrants across the wall, and denounce, at the height of cynicism, an "Algerian-Polisario" manipulation. The UNHCR for its part expresses its "concern", because, according to the UN, over 500 persons have been abandoned by the Moroccan authorities in Western Sahara. It's they who asked MINURSO to intervene, drawing criticism from the Moroccan government, who consider that "it is not part of their mandate".

Morocco goes as far as protesting with the UN against a violation by the Polisario of the buffer-zone (five kilometres wide) along the wall (to help the immigrants) and demands that MINURSO respects its commitments. The Prime Minister denounces the collection by the Polisario of the illegal immigrants in this zone, "an integral part of Morocco". He denounces "the exploitation by Algeria and the Polisario of this human tragedy for propaganda purposes".

A Spanish journalist brings a further proof of Moroccan duplicity, by meeting in Bir Lahlou a man from the Cameroon who he had seen near Melilla a month earlier. [La prueba definitiva, Luis de Vega, enviado especial, Bir Lahlú (Sahara Occidental)].

Au 21.10.05, 117 Asian and sub-Saharan migrants were helped by the Polisario Front. The UNHCR declares that Morocco in still prohibiting them from having access to the migrants' camps, is not respecting the international laws on immigration.  Médicos del Mundo and the Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado (CEAR) are concerned with another group of 120 persons, found by the Mauritanian army in the region of Zoueratt. It should be noted that the HCR protested against the deportation of persons in possession of papers issued by the HCR, during the raids on illegal immigrants.

Reminder: the Moroccan practice of expulsions of illegal immigrants into the desert is not new. In June 2004 the Polisario Front picked up 25 people of Asian origin in the region of Mijek, in Spring 2005 another 46 were added, who are still waiting for repatriation in Tifariti. [mentioned in successive reports of the Secretary General]

SPAIN

13.10.05,  Navarre parliament
A resolution of support for the rights of the Saharawi people and condemning the attitude of Morocco, laid down by the group, Eusko Alkartasuna, is adopted.

NATURAL RESOURCES

14.10.05, fishing
The European commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Joe Borg, refused at a press conference in Gothenburg on 14 October to answer the question whether the Saharawi waters are included in the Fisheries partnership agreement with Morocco or not. He referred to UN documents and previous agreements with Morocco. Later he said that it was up to the member countries and the European Parliament to act if they wanted. The Swedish Minister of Fisheries Ann-Christin Nykvist said that Sweden had been promised that the waters of Western Sahara would be excluded in the agreement. That sentence had later been omitted from the text. This question is very important for Sweden and we will follow it and act, the minister said. The agreement will be ratified next year.

The Belgian Senator Pierre Galand and Mrs P. Pierson Mathy, a professor of international law, protested recently with Commissioner Borg against the inclusion of the maritime space of Western Sahara in this agreement. They intend participating in the democratic struggle taking place against the competent bodies of the EU in such an agreement.

12.10.05, oil
In a
statement, the Saharawi government reveals that the American oil company, Kerr McGee is envisaging, despite the legal opinion of the UN, to start operations drilling for oil off-shore from Western Sahara. http://www.arso.org/KMG121005.htm
The government recalls that Western Sahara is a conflict zone and that the security of persons involved in the activities envisaged by Kerr McGee cannot be assured. As the cease-fire agreements do not provide for operations of this kind in a war zone, the Saharawi army should consider its position if provocative activities are undertaken.
Kerr McGee through its spokesman, declares on 17 October that the oil company is in possession of the necessary authorization, issued by the Moroccan government, and that it will pursue its activities. [The Journal Record, Oklhoma] On 20.10.05 the Saharawi government, in a written declaration, denies wanting the threaten American interests and reaffirms its condemnation of terrorism. [see also
MAP of21.10.05]

SOLIDARITY

Rome
About a hundred people, representatives of associations of solidarity with the Saharawi people, took part on 15.10.05 in a sit-in outside the Moroccan Embassy in Rome. The action initiated by the Saharawi Jaima Asssociation of Emilia Romagna, marked by the presence of a dozen mayors and elected members of communes of the Tuscany region, as well as members of associations of support for the Saharawi people and human rights from Bergamo and Florence, was  a "real success", according to the organisers who noted with satisfaction the growing awareness of international opinion in relation to the tragedy suffered by the Saharawi people. [
photos]
Starting from the month of October, the 30th anniversary of the start of the Moroccan invasion, until February 2006 (30th anniversary of SADR), there will be public demonstration each month in Italy.

Sydney Australia Thursday 20th October 2005
Australians demand an end to human rights abuses in occupied Western Sahara.
Today the Australia Western Sahara Association (AWSA) conducted a well-attended demonstration outside the NSW Parliament House.
The rally was addressed by the President of the Legislative Council, The Hon Dr Meredith Burgmann, Kamal Fadel, Polisario Representative in Australia and Nick O'Neill, President of AWSA.
It was attended by the Mayor of Marrickville, Sam Byrne, and members of AWSA and the public. The Deputy Premier of NSW, the Hon John Watkins, met a group from the rally and discussed human rights abuses.
The Secretary of Unions NSW, John Robertson sent a message offering the union movement's "ongoing commitment and support for the Saharawi people in their campaign for independence."
The speakers emphasised the bravery of the Saharawi demonstrators in the occupied territories of Western Sahara in publicly supporting the political prisoners and demanding their right to self-determination.
Those attending the rally called on the Australian Government to protest against the human rights abuses by the Moroccan invaders and to press for the referendum on self-determination for the Saharawi people to take place as soon as possible.

MADRID, SÁBADO 22 OCTUBRE, PRESENTACION DEL LIBRO SAHARA OCCIDENTAL, ¿HASTA CUANDO? de la Asoc.de Familiares de Presos y Desaparecidos Saharauis (AFAPREDESA)

22.10.05 Comune di Sala Bolognese, IDENTITA' E NAZIONE:
LA REPUBBLICA ARABA SAHARAWI DEMOCRATICA, Conferenza , Mostra, film

COMING UP...

Rome 28 - 29 octobre 2005
Conférence syndicale de solidarité avec le Sahara Occidental: "Le futur du Sahara Occidental". Org: CGIL, CISL, UIL

Ravenna, 5-12 Novembre 2005, DONNE SAHRAWI, VOCI DAL DESERTO
Mostre, libri, spettacoli, cinema, fiabe, incontri e dibattiti dedicati al popolo Sahrawi

Ivry sur Seine, 06.11.05, JOURNEE DE SOLIDARITE ET D'AMITIE AVEC LE PEUPLE SAHRAOUI EN LUTTE de 15h à 21h Salle Voltaire, place Voltaire (derrière la médiathèque d'Ivry sur Seine) (métro : Mairie d'Ivry, ligne 7 terminus)

MADRID : 11 & 12 NOVEMBER 2005 - 30 years enough
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE &endash; MARCH FOR THE FREEDOM OF THE SAHARAWI PEOPLE
Demonstration to denounce the 30 year-old Tripartite Accords between Spain, Morocco and Mauritania on the Sahara.
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PROGRAMA [doc Word]

--> DECLARACION DE MADRID [PDF]

FESTIVAL DE CULTURA SAHARAUI 2005 Campamentos de refugiados saharauis, 23, 24 y 25 de noviembre
vuelo Barajas-Tinduf-Barajas Fecha de salida: domingo, 20 noviembre a las 23,30h. fecha de regreso: domingo, 27 noviembre a las 23,00h
Info: Mohamed Ali Ali Salem, Responsable de Cultura, Delegación Saharaui para España, Móvil: 690 85 72 78 Fax: 949887552 Email:
saharacultura[at]yahoo.es

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