WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 43-44 : 23.10.-05.11.2005

original french

 

SADR

18.10.05, disappeared
Following revelations from the IER concerning the discovery of graves of victims from the secret Moroccan prisons, among whom a majority were Saharawis (see weeks 41-42), President M Abdelaziz sent a letter to the UN Secretary General asking him to shed light on the fate of all the disappeared Saharawis, over 500 persons, and the 151 prisoners of war. [
full text SPS, 02.11.05]

24.10.05, illegal immigration
The President of the Saharawi Republic sent a letter to the African Union asking it to contribute to their taking in illegal immigrants. In the Security Council, Mohamed Abdelaziz complained that "no rigorous measure was taken to put an end to the inhuman practices committed by the Moroccan government." Furthermore, he called for the opening of an international inquiry on the same subject.

24-27.10.05, Official visit of the Saharawi president to the Basque Country
The Saharawi President was received in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Bilbao and San Sebastian. During a reception given by the lehendakari Juan José Ibarretxe in Vitoria, the latter declared that he hoped the Saharawi people would not be the forgotten people of the 21st century. The Saharawi President, for his part, expressed his concern for the situation of Saharawi citizens in the occupied territory, in southern Morocco and in the refugee camps. He considered that relations between the two peoples &endash; Basque and Saharawi &endash; would be very useful during the construction of the Saharawi state after independence. Mohamed Abdelaziz denounced "Morocco's intransigence" and reaffirmed that the problem of Western Sahara should be resolved "in accordance with international law", in the course of a reception organised in his honour by the Mayor of Bilbao, Inaki Azkuna. The official visit of President Abdelaziz to the Basque country finished with talks with political officials in the provinces of Alava and Gipuzkoa.

27.10.05, appeal
The Polisario Front launched an appeal to human rights organisations around the world to "come to the aid of a people and a civil population who have done nothing wrong except to claim their right to freedom and a dignified existence", according to a statement issued by the Polisario representation for Switzerland and the United Nations.[
statement french]

01.11.05,SADR Oil Licence Offering 2005 Update
The SADR government is pleased to announce that it has now received multiple applications from a number of international companies. The SADR government is currently evaluating these submissions with a view to inviting successful bidders to enter negotiations. [
statement by the Government of SADR, 01.11.05]

02.11.05, Madrid
The Saharawi coordinator with the UN, Mhamed Khaddad, during a press conference asked the Spanish government to be consistent over its declarations in favour of self-determination for the Saharawi people and to translate them into action, as Portugal did for Timor-Leste. He denounced the misappropriation of aid from the European Union, destined for the fight against illegal immigration, to reinforcing the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara. [
Europa Press, spanish, 02.11.05]

03.11.05, anti-personnel mines
The Polisario Front, represented by the Minister for the Defence of SADR, Mohamed Lamine Bouhali, signed Geneva Call "for the universal renunciation of anti-personnel mines" and "respect for humanitarian international law". He undertook to destroy some 6000 mines in his possession. Geneva Call allows non-state actors to act in accordance with the Ottawa Convention on the ban on mines, a convention which Morocco has not signed. [
communiqué ] [statement]

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO

Protest demonstrations reached schools and educational establishments on the eve of the celebration of Eid el Fitr, a traditional holiday.  Students of secondary schools and high schools gathered inside and outside school buildings to protest against Moroccan occupation, shouting slogans for independence and displaying Saharawi flags. In class they sang the Saharawi national anthem instead of the Moroccan national anthem, which is obligatory every morning in all schools of the Kingdom. The head of the institution called the police, who intervened inside the school, hitting out blindly and arrested several people.

The schools affected by these demonstrations include, secondary schools, El Ayoun III, Allal Ben Abdallah, Bnou Abdillah, Attaawen, Kadi Ayad, El Khansa, lycées Lamsalla, Hassan I, Lissane Eddine ben Alkhatib, Ibn Batuta, Mohamed V, Hassan II, Alawda, as well as the Institute for Applied Technology.
Students from the Green March lycée in Smara joined the action and demonstrated on 26 October. After the usual brutal intervention by the police forces, one student was put in custody.

Forces of intervention were also widely deployed in the streets of El Ayoun with a close watch on schools. The police set about sacking and pillaging individuals' homes and arresting students in their homes, as was the case for  Boghambour Otman on 24 October. 14 students were temporarily arrested. Several received a sentence of a fine. At night, in the Saharawi quarters, they are still demonstrating, the challenge is to hoist SADR flags on buildings or electric lightpoles provoking the brutal intervention of the police.
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Photos  27. - 29.10.05
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Photos 30.10.05

In the night of 30 to 31 October in El Ayoun events took a dramatic turn. When a Saharawi flag was hoisted on a buidling in Smara Avenue, police forces intervened and isolated a small group of young Saharawis whom they beat relentlessly . One of them, Hamdi Lembarki, lost consciousness following blows received on the head. Taken to hospital and operated on, he was officially declared dead on the 31st about 16.00h.
As soon as this sad news broke, other demonstrations erupted, both in El Ayoun and in Smara and Boujdour. They continued the next day despite huge deployments of police. Numerous people were injured during new interventions by the police, who also proceeded to arrest people.

The family of the deceased refused to bury the victim, demanding an independent inquiry. They were taken by force from their house, in order to stop new demonstrations of sympathy breaking out, and were isolated in an outlying district of the town.

The authorities are claiming that it was an accident and that Lembarki was hurt by stone throwing. An inquiry has however been opened and a first autopsy concluded that death was due to cranial traumatism. The results of a second autopsy are awaited shortly.

This death has unleashed numerous reactions, both from the Saharawi authorities and from the solidarity movement.
Mhamed Khaddad called on the UN special representative, Francesco Bastagli, telling him that the UN's indifference was intolerable. For the Minister of the Occupied Territories, Khalil Sidi M'hamed, it is a matter of an assassination, which according to the Saharawi Ambassador in Algiers, M. Beissat, bears the signature of  the Moroccan state. The Saharawi government has ordered a national day of mourning and the Polisario Front has seized the Security Council with the matter to put an end to human rights abuses by Morocco.

The Moroccan HR organisation AMDH has demanded an independent inquiry, the Association of the Moroccan Sahara and and others have protested . The OMCT - World Organisation against Torture - has launched an urgent appeal. [french ]
For more infos and reactions on the death of Lembarki Hamdi and the events of 30.10.05, see
special page.

Meanwhile arrests continue. This is how Brahim Dahan, President of the Association of Victims of Human Rights abuses committed by the Moroccan state was apprehended on 30 October, while demonstrating after the death of Lembarki. Questioned by the public prosecutor, he was held in custody at the Black Prison for belonging to a criminal group, holding explosive devices and refusal to cooperate with the Moroccan authorities, according to his lawyer,

Lahbib R'guibi, quoted by AFP. According to the Spanish daily ABC, the prosecutor was interested in his contacts with the political adviser to the American Embassy in Rabat and with the journalist, Luis de Vega.

On 31, the police arrested the young, Sahraoui Badda Mohammed Badda, born in 1974,  also for participation in demonstrations condemning the assassination of Lembarki Hamdi. The young man has been imprisoned in the Black Prison since 2 November 2005.

The Observatory for the protection of human rights defenders, joint program of the World Organisation against torture (OMCT) and the international Federation of Leagues of Human Rights (FIDH) launched an appeal following acts of violence perpetrated by the Moroccan police force and the arrests, including that of Brahim Dahan. [Appel urgent de l'Observatoire pour la protection des défenseurs des droits de l'Homme. Détention arbitraire / Poursuites judiciaires. 03.11.05]

03.11.05, arrest
Boughanbour Abdelbaki Salek Abdelbaki born in 1945 was arrested by the Royal Moroccan Gendarmerie in the area of Um Draiga, while he was looking for his camel herd. He is accused of being implicated in illegal immigration traffic.

03.11.05, Testimony
According to the Spanish journalist Luis de Vega [
ABC 03.11.05] a leaden atmosphere reigns over El Ayoun. The day before the 30th anniversary of the Green March, the deployment of uniformed police and above all plain clothes police, prevents any independence demonstration. Even at night, the young people cannot get together any more. Often people approach a journalist to tell him discreetly "we are not Moroccans", "this is not Morocco" or even "Viva el Frente Polisario". The young ones use the internet to avoid using mobile phones, which are listened to.

On 3 November, the Saharawi political detainees suspended their second hunger strike, started on 20 October, after the management of the Black Prison undertook to respect the right to visits without searching or intimidating the visitors.

REFERENDUM

21-23.10.05
The European Greens called on the United Nations and the European Union to undertake the necessary measures equal to the task of putting an end to Moroccan human rights violations in Western Sahara, according to a resolution adopted during the 3rd conference of their Council, held between 21-23 October in Kiev.

23.10.05, Italy
The Italian government reiterates its support for the implementation of the United Nations peace plan in Western Sahara, the under-secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Alfredo Luigi Mantica, declared in response to a question to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies.

26.10.05, Italy
110 Italian deputies and senators, of all political tendencies, sent a letter to the King of Morocco, Mohamed VI and to his government demanding an inquest into the serious crimes committed against human rights defenders in the occupied territories of Western Sahara and that those responsible for these acts should be brought to justice. They also demand the implementation of the resolutions of the United Nations concerning the referendum of self-determination. [
Full Text SPS]

26.10.05, Finland
Seven Finnish organisations called the member states of the Security Council to "deploy all their diplomatic effort" to bringing Morocco to put an end to its systematic violations of human rights in Western Sahara and to implement the Baker Plan. The letter is signed by the Finnish Peace Committee - Suomen Rauhanpuolustajat, Peace Union in Finland - Suomen Rauhanliitto - YK-yhdistys, Committee of 100 in Finland - Suomen Sadankomitea, Finnish Psychologists for Social Responsibility - Suomen Psykologien Sosiaalinen Vastuu, Finnish UN Association - Suomen YK-liitto, Finnish Refugee Council - Suomen Pakolaisapu, International Solidarity Foundation - Kansainvälinen Solidaarisuussäätiö.

26-27.10.05, European Parliament
While the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs in Morocco, Tayeb Fassi Fihri, was at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, and met several European commissioners and members of parliament involved in relations with the Maghreb, the President of the Parliament, Josep Borrell, a socialist, proposed to the conference of chairs of groups not to conclude the debate on the topic of human rights abuses around the world and in particular in Western Sahara, by voting on a resolution. According to Le Soir d'Algérie, the Spanish socialist parliamentarians proposed to Morocco a political transaction, to delay the debate on Western Sahara in exchange for strong and meaningful gestures by Rabat. Morocco's response did not arrive. The European Parliament therefore finally expressed itself by voting on a resolution presented by the principal parliamentary groups (PPE-DE, PSE, ALDE, Verts/ALE et Gue/NGL).
The resolution underlines the concern of the European Parliament at the serious violations of fundamental rights of the human being and demands "the protection of Saharawi populations and respect for their rights", in particular, "the freedom of expression and freedom of movement". It "asks the Moroccan authorities to release immediately the human rights defenders, Aminatou Haidar, Ali Salem Tamek and the 35 other Saharawi political detainees." [
full text Resolution of the Europan Parlament, 26.10.05] [Déclaration du ministre sahraoui délégué pour l'Europe Mohamed Sidati, french or spanish]

28.10.05, Security Council Resolution S/RES/1634 (2005)
The Security Council unanimously extended MINURSO's mandate to 30 April 2006 and reaffirmed "its desire to help the parties reach a just, durable and mutually acceptable poltiical solution, which would permit the self-determination of Western Sahara within the framework of arrangements suitable for the aims and principles enunciated in the United Nations Charter."

The Polisario Front declared itself satisfied with the resolution, according to a written statement by Boukhari Ahmed, the Saharawi representative with the UN, which pointed out that the Council had reaffirmed its "support for the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination" and refused the Moroccan proposals aiming to "alter the nature and direction of the UN involvement in the solution of a conflict of decolonization". [SPS].

The spokesman for the French ministry of Foreign Affairs declared that "France supports the search for a political solution agreed by all the parties, in the framework and under the aegis of the United Nations. It hopes that these six months can be used profitably by the parties to work with the Secretary General as well as with his new personal envoy, and between them to a mutually acceptable settlement."

29-30.10.05, Athens First Congress of the European Left
Delegates adopted a resolution, despite the attempts by Moroccan delegations to prevent it, affirming that the conflict of Western Sahara is a problem of decolonization, supporting the legitimate struggle of the Saharawi people and the UN resolutions, condemning the "policy of oppression and repression being carried out by the Moroccan authorities", and demanding the immediate release of Saharawi prisoners. Addressing itself to the EU, the European Left asks it to support the UN and to condemn Morocco by using the clauses of the agreement of association relating to human rights.

29.10.-03.11.05, Sweden, 39th congress of SAP
The Swedish Social Democrat Party, in power, and member of IS, called its Government to commit itself within the European Union and the UN in favour of the "right of the Saharawi people to self-determination" and to use its contacts with Morocco "to put an end to its occupation" of Western Sahara. A Saharawi delegation was invited to the congress.

SPAIN

26.10.05
The Congress of Deputies (lower house in the parliament) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have "definitively renounced" the idea of sending a delegation to Western Sahara to inquire into the situation of human rights, because of the conditions imposed by Rabat.

30.10.05, Madrid Accords
In reply to a question from a member of parliament, the government declares that the Madrid Accords of 14.11.75 handed over the administration of the territory to Morocco (and Mauritania) but not sovereignty over Western Sahara. According to the UN, Hans Corell report in 2002, Spain could not hand over its position as administrative power, but only the power to administer the territory.

ITALY

28-29.10.05, Rome
Third trades union Conference of solidarity with Saharawi workers and for a peaceful future for Western Sahara. This conference bringing together 25 trades union organisations, including trades unions from Morocco, adopted a final declaration in which it expressed its profound concern for the living and working conditions and the repression which is rife in the territory of occupied Western Sahara. The unions ask for the full implementation of the Charter of Human Rights and international conventions for all men and women who work in Western Sahara. The conference would like to open a dialogue with Moroccan trades unions, which took part in the conference. It was decided to send a joint mission to the area. [SPS]

A teacher from the Institute of Applied Technology in El Ayoun, Sidi Brahim Eddia, was arbitrarily excluded from his union, UMT, because of his union activities in favour of Saharawi workers and because his father intended taking part in the union conference in Rome.

MOROCCO

13.10.05, attack
A Saharawi student, Lakhiar Abdellah Ghali was attacked at night in Rabat by Moroccans trying to assassinate him. He underwent emergency surgery because of the injury to his liver. Saharawi students in Rabat have denounced this acts and demanded protection of the authorities in the face of the discrimination they are subjected to, a widespread attitude in the numerous universities of Morocco. [
photos]

CULTURE

26-30.10.05, Mariem Hassan at WOMEX (International World Music Fair) at Newcastle: starting with a mawal a capella (free introduction) Mariem Hassan impressed the professional ambience coming from every corner of the the planet to celebrate the most important tradefair of World Music 2005 in Newcastle.  In the filled up New Rock Foundation Hall she gained the audience with her intense voice pulling her musicians with bursting energies, surprising with incursions into blues and other less usual atmospheres,  with an outstanding version of  La Intifada and a dance of Vadiya, amazing and sensual. A memorable concert for Mariem being back on stage  after having been stopped by grave health reasons.[corr.]

COMING UP...

5-12.11.05, Ravenna
DONNE SAHRAWI, VOCI DAL DESERTO
Mostre, libri, spettacoli, cinema, fiabe, incontri e dibattiti dedicati al popolo Sahrawi
Info:
PDF

MADRID : 11 Y 12 DE NOVIEMBRE 2005 - 30 AÑOS BASTAN
CONFERENCIA INTERNACIONAL - MARCHA POR LA LIBERTAD DEL PUEBLO SAHARAUI
Manifestación para denunciar los Acuerdos tripartitos de hace 30 años entre España, Marruecos y Mauritania sobre el Sáhara.
Programa
Declaracion de Madrid

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

VIº Congresso della Gioventu Sahrawi 19. - 26.11.05
ai campamenti profughi di Tindouf
per informazioni: Comitato di Gemellaggio di Rosignano Marittimo:
cogemel[at]gemellagiorossignano.191.it o ANSPS ansps[at]libero.it
VIème Congrès de la Jeunesse sahraouie UJSARIO - Campements de réfugiés 19-26.11.05

"EL PATRIMONIO CULTURAL DEL SAHARA OCCIDENTAL. THE WESTERN SAHARA CULTURAL HERITAGE"
Del 6 al 9 de febrero de 2006. Campamento del 27 de Febrero, en los campamentos de refugiados (Argelia) y en el sahara occidental (República Árabe Saharaui Democrática)
Ministerio de Cultura de la República Árabe Saharaui Democrática, Museo Nacional del Pueblo Saharaui
Institut del Patrimoni Cultural de la Universitat de Girona
Infos: Narcís Soler i Masferrer
Universitat de Girona - Facultat de Lletres, Plaça Ferrater i Mora, 1, 17071 GIRONA 0034 972418788 / 972418200 fax: 972418230

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