WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 49-50 : 04.12.-17.12.2005

original french

SADR

06.12.05, South Africa
The South African Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sue van der Merwe, received M'hamed Khaddad, bearer of a message from the Saharawi president to his South African counterpart. The Minister of Security, Ronnie Kasrils and the ANC secretary general, Kgalema Motlanthe also had talks with the Saharawi coordinator with MINURSO. Khaddad in particular asked that the ANC should support an international campaign to condemn the crimes committed by Morocco against the defenceless civil population of Western Sahara.

08.12.05S Tanzania
The new Saharawi ambassador in Tanzania, Habibullah Mohamed, presented his credentials as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary for SADR to the President of the Republic of Tanzania, William Benjamin Mkapa.

15.12.05, Spain
The Association for Human Rights (APDHE) of Madrid awarded one of its international "Human Rights 2005" prizes  to the Polisario Front, for its political activity over 30 years towards self-determination of a colonised people. The prize was bestowed on the President of the Saharawi Republic in Madrid, by Manuel Ollé Sesé, acting president of APDH. "Granting the prize to the Polisario Front conveys a dual meaning: on the one hand it is a hommage to the struggle the Saharawi people have been fighting for the defence of their human rights, and on the other hand, it is directed to drawing attention to the massive human rights violations committed at present in Western Sahara", he emphasised. [
full text of the speech of President Abdelaziz, SPS]

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO

03.12.05, Tantan
A Saharawi, Lekhlifa Abba Cheikh Ould Embarek ould Ali, itinerant street seller, was called in by Ahmed Nejib, a policeman, who demanded from him a sum of money, which Lekhlifa refused to hand over. Having been beaten unconscious by the policeman, he was taken to the local hospital where his transfer to the hospital in Agadir was ordered. He died on the way there. He was 33 years old and father of two children.
This death unleashed demonstrations by the local Saharawi population, protesting against the crime. The demonstration later changed into a march for independence through the town's streets. [
Photos]
The death of the young Saharawi also triggered demonstrations in Agadir and Smara universities.

04-05.12.05, Boujdour
Independentist demonstrations, brutally dispersed by the police assisted by settlers armed with knuckle dusters and machetes.

05.12.05, El Ayoun
Demonstrations at night in several areas. Saharawi students from El Khansa college held a sit-in which was repressed by the police. Following this 12 or 14 students were excluded from the college.

06.12.05, trial postponed
The trial of the 14 Saharawi human rights activists is postponed once again to 13 December. The accused object to the court-appointed lawyers who are attributed to them after the departure of the defence lawyers. (
see week 47/48 2005 ) The latter were protesting about the fact that they had been made to wait all day without explanation during the session on 30.11.05. The court granted the accused the assistance of their choice. Eric Goldstein, Mr North Africa from Human Rights Watch, attended as an observer to the trial, as well as other foreign observers.

06.12.05, El Ayoun
Mohamed Bahia Rashidi, released on 14 August 2005 after having served his one-year prison sentence for having publicly supported the Algerian football team, was again presented to the prosecutor and imprisoned in the Black Prison on various charges.
Arrest of a Saharawi citizen, Andour Sid Ahmed Mohamed Salem ould Beya. His relatives do not know his place of detention nor the reasons for his disappearance.

07.12.05, El Ayoun
Police officer Abderrahim Amssaoued and Police Brigadier Hassan Rochdi are imprisoned for their presumed responsibility in the tragic death of Hamdi Lembarki, who died under police blows on 31 October last. .[
Reuters 07.12.05] [Europa Press, 07.12.05] [Le journal hebdo No 234, 10.12.05]

08.12.05, Morocco
The Moroccan Association of Human Rights AMDH denounced the "serious exactions" committed during the month of November 2005 against the Saharawi population. "Several Saharawis have been tortured in places of secret detention. Persons arrested unjustly have not been able to see the reports drawn up by the criminal investigation police. Requests by those who have undergone physical maltreatment have been rejected, knowing that all the trials of Saharawi activists are marred by numerous irregularities." The AMDH calls for the release of 37 Saharawi political prisoners and for the opening of an inquiry to establish the truth on the serious excesses noted during the troubles.

The Moroccan political party, Annahdj Eddimocrati said they "once again rejected the recourse to repression of the demands of the Saharawi people". Annahdj Eddimocrati reiterated its appeal for the release of all the Saharawi activists at present being held in the Black Prison in El Ayoun.

Incitation to leave
According to reliable sources, coastal controls put in place by Morocco to search boats carrying illegal immigrants to the Canary Islands have been clearly relaxed in recent weeks, permitting many young Saharawis to flee their territory. About 70 young Saharawis are believed to have fled at the beginning of December. Informants on the ground denounce this measure, considered as a new Moroccan manoeuvre to rid the territory of its troublesome youth.

A former Saharawi political prisoner is imprisoned on arrival in the Canaries in a "patera" boat. Bailla Sidi Mahfoud was sentenced on 5 April 2000 to five years in prison for having taken part in demonstrations following the first intifada of 1999 (week 14/2000) http://www.arso.org/01-e00-14.htm). With 24 other political prisoners including Mohamed Daddach, he was liberated by royal pardon in November 2001 after an international campaign.

08.12.05, El Ayoun, Boujdour
Demonstrations continue, followed by at least ten arrests and several people wounded. Four students are believed to have been arrested. A demonstration is also reported in Boujdour.

09.12.05, El Ayoun
Eleven people are arrested during a demonstration in schools (lycées Hassan II, Lisan Eddin, El Jansaa, Enhda and Etaaun) and Saharawi areas of the town. Following independentist demonstrations at lycée Lamsalla, the director gives free access to agents from the DST who are authorised to keep watch on the students inside the school. The young people demand the replacement of a teacher who is collaborating with the Moroccan secret services, the replacement of the director who hates Saharawis and the withdrawal of the Moroccan flag from the school.

10.12.05, 57th anniversary of the universal declaration of human rights  
On this occasion, the inhabitants of Tantan meet to demand an inquiry into the circumstances of the death of Lekhlifa. A sit-in is held in favour of Saharawi independence. Gatherings are also reported in the university of Agadir, in Assa and El Ayoun.

11.12.05, SADR
Another letter from the Saharawi president to the UN Secretary General, to ask for the civil Saharawi population in the territory to be protected.

12.12.05, Boujdour
Another demonstration followed by repression, arrests and injuries. It was reported in particular that a woman was alleged to have miscarried after being beaten by police as she was giving help to her son.

12.12.05, Tiznit, Southern Morocco
A Saharawi political prisoner, El Agdadi Ali, who is at present in Tiznit, was beaten in his cell by the head of the prison establishment and a group of officials, who handcuffed him and searched his personal affairs. El Agdadi Ali decided to start a hunger strike to denounce these acts.

12.12.05, El Ayoun
Saharawi independence supporters and students met in broad daylight brandishing, as at every demonstration, the national Saharawi flag, and calling slogans, as usual, for independence and against the Moroccan presence in Western Sahara.
The Saharawi national flag and banners in favour of independence are unfurled in front of the College of Cooperation and the Lycée Lissan Eddine. Moroccan settlers intervene and beat up the pupils. The school authorities take measures and threaten the students with sanctions.

The first detachments of troops estimated at 20,000 soldiers have been deployed in the occupied towns of Western Sahara, in particular in schools and lycées in El Ayoun. It's the job of these plain clothes soldiers to help the various police forces in the repression. (SPS).

13.12.05, El Ayoun
Demonstration in El Ayoun, with arrests, injuries, entering and trashing several houses, demonstrations at the lycée Hassan II and El Fatah School.

13-14.12.05, trial
The hearings of those accused began at 9 am and continued until 3am the next morning, followed by deliberations of the court for 6 hours. The sentences were read in public at 9am on the morning of 14 December. Sentences range from 6 months to 3 years in prison.

Tahlil Mohamed 03 years in prison
Hmad Hammad 02 years in prison
Sidi Ahmed el Moussaoui 02 years in prison
Bal-la Mohamed 02 years in prison
Chteioui Mahayaoub 02 years in prison
Eljanhi Khalifa 02 years in prison
Lahwidi Mahmoud 02 years in prison
Mohamed El Moutaoikil 10 months in prison
Brahim Noumria 10 months in prison
Houssein Lidri 10 months in prison
Messaoud Larbi 10 months in prison
Ali Salem Tamek 08 months in prison
Aminatou Haidar 07 months in prison
Amaydane Elwali  06 months in prison

A group of 13 lawyers represented the defence. A dozen foreign lawyers, comprising three French, five Spanish, one Italian, one Tunisian (for Amnesty International) and two Swiss, as well as three foreign journalists attended the trial (one journalist from El Periodico, Spain, one from l'Humanité, France, and a Swedish journalist).
The lawyers for the defence pointed out a certain number of procedural flaws and asked that the reports drawn up by the criminal investigation police should not be taken into consideration.
The accused made their entry into the courtroom chanting slogans in favour of a referendum in Western Sahara. They all declared themselves to be Saharawi human rights activists. They all affirmed they were in favour of self-determination for the Saharawi people and independence for Western Sahara. They confirmed having not seen the reports established by the CID and made clear that the interrogations carried out by the police bore on their political opinions concerning the question of Western Sahara and not on the offences quoted in the charges.
All the accused are acquitted of the serious crimes of which they were accused, but found guilty of minor offences figuring in their charges. [
details]

14.12.05
The president of the Saharawi Republic, M. Abdelaziz indicated, in a declaration to SPS, that the detention of Saharawi political prisoners "is illegal and has no foundation in law", which logically calls for their immediate "unconditional" release. These detainees have committed no offence save that they have called by peaceful and legal means for the Saharawi people to exercise their right the self-determination, a right which has been promised by the UN since the sixties. Abdelaziz demanded that MINURSO should guarantee the safety of Saharawi citizens in the territory. He launched an appeal to governments and human rights associations to put pressure on Morocco to release immediately all Saharawi political prisoners.

14.12.05
The Saharawi president wrote once again to Kofi Annan to warn him of the danger represented by plain clothes soldiers in Western Sahara. 500 soldiers aboard six buses and light vehicles have already arrived in El Ayoun.

14.12.05, El Ayoun, Smara
Demonstration in El Ayoun, quarters of Maatala, Edchera and Skeikima, arrests. In Smara an area where a Festival of culture was being held was decorated with Saharawi flags.

15.12.05, El Ayoun
Strike of students at the Aminatou Haidar Institute (Lamsalla ?) has been going on for a month, their demands having not yet been met.

15.12.05
The Saharawi Prime Minister invited the international community, following the deployment of military plainclothes forces in Western Sahara, to dispatch a mission of inquiry to the spot.

16.12.05, El Ayoun
Hundreds of people gathered carrying SADR flags and At noon, hundreds of Saharawi citizens joined the manifestation of the students of the schools named El Khansa and Mansour Eddhabi, with SADR flags and repeating slogans hostile to the Moroccan occupation and in favour of the freedom and peace for the Saharawi people. The Moroccan response was quick. An impressive military and security arsenal was deployed, composed of contingents of Urban Security Groups (GUS) and Auxiliary Forces (FA), Mobile Companies of Intervention (CMI), the Royal Gendarmerie (GR), from the Department of Territorial Surveillance (DST), reinforced by elements from the Royal Army Forces (FAR) in plain clothes, armed to the teeth with truncheons, firearms and tear gas canisters.
A provisional count has 64 people detained, dozens people wounded and a dozen of houses ransacked.
[photos] [--> Nouvelles, listes provisoires] [communiqué AFAPREDESA/UJS]

REFERENDUM

01.12.05, Brussels
Pax Christi Wallonie-Bruxelles organised in Brussels a discussion on "The Conflict in Western Sahara" with Jacinta De Roeck, a Senator and president of the Belgian parliamentary intergroup on Western Sahara, Jean-Luc Onckelinx, UN representation with the European Union in Brussels, Olivier Pierre-Louveaux, MEDEA (Institut Européen de Recherche sur la Coopération Méditerranéenne et Euro-Arabe) and Francis Schwan, Amnesty International for French-speaking Belgium.

08.12.05, European Union
A Spanish MEP, Willy Meyer, from the confederate Group of European unitary left/Nordic Red Greens, called on the European Union (EU) to "condemn unambiguously the policy of savage repression exercised by the Moroccan government against the Saharawi population". The MEP in addition, called on the EU to "intervene actively" to demand that this policy and the "permanent violation of human rights in Western Sahara" should be ended, IU indicated in a statement.

08.12.05, ONU
The UN General Assembly in a plenary session, adopted without a vote, the text of a resolution underlining the disagreement between the parties concerning the peace plan for the Sahara. (
A/RES/60/114)

MOROCCO

27.11.05, Japan-Morocco
King Mohamed VI paid a state visit to Japan from 27 to 30 November. In reaction to a joint statement and in response to the king's speech pronounced on his arrival at the imperial palace, the Japanese friends of the Saharawi people wrote letters to their government and to the King of Morocco. [
texts in French and Spanish]

02.12.05, regionalisation
The PJD (the party for Justice and Development religious, legal) will organise in Morocco on 11 January 2006 an international conference on the Sahara: "we want to look with certain countries benefiting from an experience in this domain, how regionalisation has taken place and to take note and reflect on a solution for the Sahara".

13.12.05, France-Maroc
The King of Morocco and President Jacques Chirac made no declaration at the end of their talks. Mohamed VI is in Paris on a private visit. He arrived in France from Saudia Arabia where he took part in Mecca in the extraordinary summit of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OCI).

12-13.12.05, Marrakech
Members of the Moroccan security corps attacked Saharawi students, who organised at the University of Marrakech two days of information on human rights abuses in Western Sahara and on the nature of the Saharawi question, wounding several students and destroying the stands and display material.

15.12.05, dismissal
The official responsible for the (Direction générale de la surveillance du territoire, the political police), Ahmed Harrari, was dismissed and replaced by Abdellatif Hammouchi, nicknamed the salafiste, because of his specialty, political Islamism. Harrari held his post since July 2003 [
Ali Lmrabet, El Mundo, 16.12.05]

ALGERIA

13.12.05
The Ministries of Defence of ten countries of Southern Europe and the Maghreb met in closed session in Algiers. During a preceding summit, in December 2004, they had agreed to make a contribution to surveillance of the Mediterranean, both on the sea and in the air. This double control is aimed at fighting terrorism and illegal trafficking. (agencies).

CULTURE

Escribiendo al son del Sahara
Generación de la Amistad Saharaui
Escritores saharauis en castellano

A raíz de la celebración del 2º Congreso Panafricano en España, celebrado en Madrid entre los días 1 al 4 de diciembre de 2005 y con la participación del Club Literario Amargord, se ha organizo una velada poética saharaui, donde han estado presentes los miembros del grupo Generación de la Amistad saharaui Zahra Hasnaui y Bahia M.H. Awah. La velada ha incluido una charla sobre los 30 años de lucha del pueblo saharaui, que ha contado con la presencia del representante del Polisario en Madrid, Abdulah Ahmed El Arabi.
En el acto también han estado presentes miembros de la Asociación de Amigos del pueblo saharaui de Madrid; el profesor de Antropología y Pensamiento Filosófico de la Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Juan Carlos Gimeno y Aichetu Ramdan, esposa del activista saharaui de derechos humanos, Ali Salem Tamek, encarcelado por Marruecos por su lucha a favor de la independencia del pueblo saharaui.
En el acto se han recitado poemas de la Generación de la Amistad, grupo de poetas saharauis que escriben en castellano, que en breve publicarán una antología de compromiso y apoyo a la Intifada saharaui, titulada «Aaiun, gritando lo que se siente».[-->
Poesía saharaui en castellano / y en el sitio de As. Umdraiga ]

ITALIA
"Nehry Bugam e Dayesmus" una fiaba tradizionale sahrawi spettacolo a cura del Teatro del Drago coprodotto dall'Assessorato alle Pari Opportunità del Comune di Ravenna. La prima nazionale si è tenuta a Ravenna nell'ambito dell'iniziativa "Donne sahrawi, voci dal deserto" promossa dal Comune di Ravenna - Assessorato Pari Opportunità (5/12 novembre 2005). Per informazioni: Teatro del Drago, Via S. Alberto, 297 48100 Ravenna, Tel 0544.483461 Fax 0544.483460 email:
info[at]teatrodeldrago.it , sito www.teatrodeldrago.it

HUMANITARIAN AID

13.12.05
The United Nations World Food Program received a contribution of 2,715 million euros from the European Commission for humanitarian aid, ECHO to assist 90,000 Saharawi refugees. The WFP fears a food deficit will occur between now and the end of the first semester of 2006 if contributions do not increase. The operation which costs 42 million US dollars, has received only 52% of the necessary resources, Marius de Gaay Fortman, declared, director of the WFP in Algeria.

12.12.05, Italia
La seconda tranche della carovana italiana di solidarietà dell'ANSPS (Associazione di solidarietà con il popolo Sahrawi) è stata consegnata in data 12 dicembre 2005 alla Mezzaluna Rossa Sahrawi, a Rabuni nel deserto di Tindouf, dal responsabile delle carovane dell'ANSPS Sandro Giovanetti. La carovana partita dal porto di La Spezia alcune settimane fa, è giunta ad Orano da cui ha raggiunto il deserto di Tindouf guidata da autisti Sahrawi. La carovana era composta da quattro camion, un furgone, due autoveicoli, due fuoristrada e un'autoambulanza donati da: Comune di Agliana, Anpas-toscana, Associazione "Tempora-Onlus" di Trento, Associazione "Rock no war" di Modena, Associazione "Gherim" di Bergamo, Associazione "Incontro con i popoli del Sahara" di Fiano Romano, Associazione "Lions Club Bacoli" di Napoli e Associazione "Kouri Adda" di Livorno.

SOLIDARITY

10.12.05, Sit-in à Rome et à Milan
Per il terzo mese consecutivo, sabato 10 dicembre 2005 alle ore 12:00 a Roma in via Spallanzani 8, si tiene un sit-in davanti all'Ambasciata del Marocco convocato dall'Associazione nazionale di solidarietà con il popolo sahrawi (ANSPS) per protestare contro le violazioni dei diritti umani nei territori del Sahara Occidentale occupati dal Marocco. Contemporaneamente un'iniziativa analoga si svolge davanti al Consolato del Marocco a Milano in via Martiglioni 10.

11.12.05, France, comité de soutien
Des associations représentant la communauté algérienne en Ile de France ont constitué un Comité de soutien au peuple Sahraoui et appelé, dans une déclaration à l'issue d'une rencontre organisée au Centre Culturel algérien à Paris, à "un règlement juste, rapide et durable de la question du Sahara Occidental".

12.12.05, France, CORELSO
Des enseignants, fonctionnaires, chercheurs et militants associatifs des droits humains ont créé à Paris, en présence d'une représentante d'Amnesty International, le CORELSO, le Comité pour le Respect des libertés et des droits humains au Sahara Occidental. Cette nouvelle association a son siège à Ivry, en région parisienne.

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