WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 03-04 : 15.01.-28.01.2006

original french

 

SADR

19-23.01.05, World Social Forum, Bamako
A Saharawi delegation of 26 people took part in the 6th World Social Forum in Bamako. The question of the Sahara was on the workshop program within the topic of "War and peace", under the title of "Sahara, last colony of Africa". As at other international meetings, Moroccan hecklers tried to prevent the discussion. An exhibition on the peaceful resistance of the Saharawi population in the occupied territories of Western Sahara and in southern Morocco was also on display. A folk group, Tiris performed during several musical evenings.
Several support committees for the Saharawi people participated in the Forum. In the context of the workshop "Commitment of women for freedom and democracy", organised by AFASPA, Maïma Mahmoud Najem spoke of the struggle of the Saharawi women.

19-21.01.06, African Union Summit, Executive Council
The Executive Council (Council of Ministers) adopted the report of its committee for the last semester, which expresses its "concern" about "the continual blockage of the peace process and the growing frustration of the people of Western Sahara", and considers that the situation "merits quite particular attention from the international community".

23-24.01.06, African Union Summit, Meeting of Heads of State and Government, Khartoum
The African Union's Council for peace and security, in its report, declared that the international community "should make evident a greater determination to ensure the implementation of the United Nations peace plan and the UN Security Council resolutions pertaining to the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara". A Saharawi delegation took part in the work of this 6th summit. [SPS]

20.01.06, South America
The President of the Republic, Mohamed Abdelaziz, took part in a ceremony of investiture in La Paz of the new Bolivian President, Evo Morales. Bolivia and SADR have close ties of cooperation and friendship since the recognition of SADR by Bolivia on 14 December 1982. The Bolivian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Armando Loaisa, reiterated "the support of his country for the struggle of the Saharawi people for its independence", in a statement to the Bolivian paper, La Opinion.

At the same time, the Moroccan Minister for Foreign Affairs was received by the governments of Paraguay, Brazil, Colombia and Peru, the Moroccan Minister for Industry negotiated with the Mexican government and the Moroccan Prime Minister met the authorities of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

23-24.01.06, Mauritania
The Minister for the occupied territories and Saharawi communities abroad, and special envoy of the Saharawi President, Mr El Khalil Sid'M'hamed, was received in Nouakchott by the President of the Military Council for Justice and Democracy, Colonel Ely Ould Mohamed Vall. The next day the Saharawi Minister met representatives of political parties, in succession, the Union of the Democratic Centre, The Mauritanian Popular Front and the Democratic Alternative for Mauritania.

27-29.01.06, Galicia, Spain
The SADR President, Mr Mohamed Abdelaziz, carried out an official visit to Galicia, "with the intention of reinforcing political and humanitarian relations with this region in Spain's north west". He met the President of the regional government, Socialist, Emilio Perez Tourinio,  Anxo Quintana, Vice-President of the Galician Nationalist Bloc, and the President of the Parliament, Dolores Villarino, as well as various other Galician personalities. During a press conference, Quintana declared himself in favour of relations on government level between SADR and Galicia.

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO

13.01.06, Smara
Mohamed Mohamed Embarek was arrested by the Moroccan forces of occupation and taken to a detention centre where he was badly treated for several hours before being abandoned in the street.

13.01.06, Dakhla
Young Saharawis brandished the SADR flag in the middle of the street and chanted slogans in favour of the Saharawi people's right to self-determination and independence. The Moroccan forces of repression intervened brutally using truncheons and pursuing the young demonstrators.

14.01.06, Funeral in El Ayoun of the young Saharawi killed by police on 30 October last, Lembarki Hamdi Salek Mahjoub.
The atmosphere in the town at the time of the funeral is described by an anti-independentist association in the following way: "...thousands of members of the forces of order from all bodies mixed together patrol the town of Laayoune this morning to parry any demonstration of a separatist character during the funeral of Lembarki Hamdi. (...) Nearly all cars carrying more than three persons are stopped, identity check followed by "interrogation" (Where are you going? Why are you together? What type of link exists between you?...) In the streets and boulevards of Laayoune, any gathering of more than four persons is forbidden. Trucks and vans packed with all types of forces of order are stationed in a provocative manner every "hundred metres". (Association Le Sahara Marocain).

Two and a half months after the death the Moroccan authorities, who have still not made public the autopsy report, demanded the burial took place at a cemetery 10 km to the east of the town. An imposing crowd took part in the ceremony, surrounded by lots of SADR flags. [ more infos] [photos] [+ photos] [video]
Moroccan forces of repression intervened against the participants on their return to El Ayoun, arresting several people and ransacking houses. Laaseri Saaid and Hamoudi Ahl Laabeid were arrested outside the headquarters of MINURSO, "for having participated in the funeral and for having tried to take refuge in the UN building". According to a correspondent, the forces of repression are now attacking the most vulnerable Saharawi citizens, especially old people and children in order to put pressure on their relatives who, for the most part, are activists calling for the immediate departure of the Moroccan occupant from Western Sahara.

14.01.06, Smara
At least three people were arrested in the course of demonstrations sparked off by the burial of Lembarki Hamdi. Moulaye Ahmed Elouadnouni, Soueilim Amidan and Labeidi Karoum were mistreated before being released after several hours' detention. [SPS]

17.01.05, Release of Aminatou Haidar
The Saharawi human rights activist left prison after being held for seven months' in the Black Prison. The Moroccan authorities, having prevented the family from organising a welcome for her in their home, the reception was held in Lemleihess, 35 km east of El Ayoun.

Several people on their way to Lemleihess were the object of intimidation and harrassment by the police forces, who had installed three road blocks between El Ayoun and Smara. Maisara Dahan, brother of Brahim Dahan, President of the Saharawi Association for victims of serious abuses committed by the Moroccan state in Western Sahara, was arrested leaving El Ayoun to go to the reception, he was carrying a Saharawi flag. The Dahan family's house, as well as that of the Kaziza and Abba Lefdil families, were ransacked by the police. Lemleihess was surrounded at a distance by a heavy police cordon.
Hundreds of Saharawis, arriving from different towns in occupied Western Sahara and southern Morocco, took part in the ceremony. An enormous SADR flag floated about their heads.

In her speech, Aminatou thanked the population for their support and recalled that other Saharawi human rights defenders are still incarcerated. She invited the Saharawis to continue their struggle until total independence and called on the international community to apply more pressure on the Moroccan government to make it stop human rights abuses against the Saharawi people.

After the reception the repression began again. Four people at least were arrested. Some were prevented from returning to El Ayoun, including Hamudi Iguilid, president of the local branch of the AMDH. When the demonstrators had left, the tents and houses on the ground were closely searched and eight young Saharawi were arrested, including a minor of 12 years, later released. A car which the Haidair family had hired to carry its baggage was confiscated and the driver arrested. Aminatou Haidar's family was expelled by force from Lemleihess and driven to El Ayoun. For having taken part in the ceremony, a schoolboy,  Sidahmdat Garah ould Brahim, born in 1992, was arrested at his home by criminal investigation agents, taken to the police station where he was beaten. He was released but threatened with prison if he took part in another demonstration. [more info, reports, press...] [photos]

18.01.06, solidarity
The President of the European Parliament's intergroup, "Peace for the Saharawi People", Karin Scheele, expressed her satisfaction with the release of the Saharawi human rights activist, Aminatou Haidar, calling on the Moroccan state to release all the other Saharawi political prisoners. [
declaracion] The Saharawi president, the Saharawi political prisoners still in prison, the Arab committee for support for the Saharawi people, AARASD and CORELSO (France) have also sent messages on this occasion.
A popular meeting was organised in the refugee camps in Tindouf as a sign of solidarity with Aminatou Haidar. Khadijetou Hamdi, a member of the Executive of the National Union of Saharawi Women, in charge of information, announced the creation of a permanent committee of help for the Intifada of Independence.

17.01.06
Two Saharawis, Corporal Elhiba Ahmed Mahmoud and a former soldier, Yahia Mohamed Elhafed were abducted from their homes in El Ayoun by the police and transferred to the military barracks in Bensergaw (Agadir).
This measure was taken after the participation of their relatives in the peaceful demonstrations for self-determnation and independence taking place since 21 May 2005. At the military barracks of Bensergaw in Agadir, they started a open-ended hunger strike on 24 January to claim their rights and to contest the forced transfer to which they were subjected. They call for their return to El Ayoun. The state of health of Elhiba is precarious.
Yahya Mohamed El Hafed, alias Azza, had already been the victim of forced incarceration of several days
in September 2004. Elhiba Mohamed Mahmoud Razzak had been abducted on 3 November 2005 and taken to the military barracks of Bensergaw /Agadir.

18.01.06, forced transfer
A Saharawi citizen, Boudaakane Mohamed Laaroussi, working within the Moroccan army, 4th regiment, registered as n° 74/19719, was removed from his place of work in El Ayoun and transferred to Bouizakaren (southern Morocco). This forced transfer took place after the participation of his relatives in demonstrations.

23.01.06, Assa
Demonstration calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all Saharawi political detainees and welcoming that of the Saharawi human rights activist, Aminatou Haidar. [SPS]

23.01.06, El Ayoun
A 16 year-old girl, Aichetu Yahfdu, was taken hostage in a police van and mistreated for several hours with three other young girls by GUS agents after coming out of a cybercafé on Avenue Boucraa.

24.01.2006, Dakhla
The Urban Groups of Security GUS have made their appearance in Dakhla, where Saharawi flags and anti-Moroccan slogans have been painted on walls in several quarters.

24.01.06, Agadir
Carrying SADR flags, Saharawi students from the science faculty 'Ibn Zouhr' in Agadir expressed their support for the "pursuit of the Intifada of Independence".

24-25.01.06, Appeal trial
Trial in the court of second instance of Aminatou Haidar, Houcine Lidri, Brahim Noumria, Larbi Messaoud, Mohamed El Moutaoikil, Hmad Hammad, Ali Salem Tamek, Jenhaoui Lakhlifa, Mahjoub Chtioui, Mahmoud Lahwidi, Mohamed Tahlil, Ouali Amydane, El Moussaoui Sidahmed, Mohamed Balla. Two of the defendants see their sentences increased: that of Amaydane Elwali goes from 6 to 12 months in prison, that of Ali Salem Tamek from 8 to 10 months in prison. For the other defendants the sentences imposed by the court of first instance are confirmed. The trial lasts from 9am until 2am the next morning, in the presence of international observers.

25.01.06, Transfer
Transfer of a Saharawi political prisoner, Heddi Chreif, from the local prison of Aït Melloul to the local prison of Tiznit, without giving prior notice to the interested party. [SPS]

26.01.06, El Ayoun
Since the trial on 24 January, the streets of El Ayoun have been witness to a large deployment from the different Moroccan security bodies. Despite this, young Saharawis have hung up SADR flags on several avenues. The Moroccan forces of repression have torn them down and burnt them. Same scenario in Dakhla, but there the police did not succeed in taking the flags away. [SPS]

26.01.06 ,
The Saharawi workers from the company Phosboucraa went on strike for three hours outside the company office to claim their rights.

27.01.06, Diplomatic Incident
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway summoned the Ambassador of Morocco to Norway, Abdelhakim El Amrani, following a ban on entering Western Sahara for a diplomatic mission from Nordic countries comprising members of the embassies of Norway, Sweden and Finland in Rabat. Visits to MINURSO and meetings with human rights NGOs were planned. The government of Finland proceeded in the same manner and Sweden will call in the Ambassador of Morocco next week.[
EFE] [Nettavisen/ Norsk]
Last November, Morocco already refused access to Western Sahara for a Norwegian diplomatic delegation and in July a group of members of Norwegian NGOs was expelled by force from El Ayoun. [-->
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NATURAL RESOURCES

17.01.06, oil exploration
Following discussions with international companies, and a successful offshore licensing initiative, the Government of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), formally announces the commencement of an onshore licensing initiative to enable international oil and gas companies to participate in the exploration of its onshore sovereign territory.[SPS] [
Reuters, 22.01.06] [ OilOnline, January 17, 2006]

REFERENDUM

18.01.06, Security Council
The Security Council met in a special session devoted to the conflict in Western Sahara. The special representative of the UN Secretary General, Peter van Walsum, reported on the results of his initial consultations. He declared after the meeting, which was held behind closed doors, that a problem which has lasted for 30 years cannot be resolved in one year. He was reported as adding that all the parties should be invited to participate in negotiations, including Algeria. The Dutch diplomat regretted not being able to say more about the meeting, particularly because the Security Council did not have a "firm position" on the question. [
More talks ahead in W. Sahara impasse - UN envoy, Irwin Arieff, Reuters, 18.01.06]

18.01.06, Autonomy
Morocco announced to the Spanish news agency EFE, through its representative at the United Nations, its intention to present a plan for autonomy to the UN. This plan should be presented in April to the special representative, P van Walsum and then to Kofi Annan. The Polisario Front representative at the UN rejected any plan not containing several options, he declared.

MOROCCO

17.01.06
The AMDH, (The Moroccan Association for human rights) called for the release of the 14 Saharawi activists still detained in El Ayoun and showed its "anxiety" concerning the human rights situation in Western Sahara. In a statement, AMDH asked for an end to judicial procedures by Moroccan justice against all the Saharawi political prisoners. [SPS]

18.01.06, Corruption
The foreign minister of Sao Tome and Principe has resigned after coming under widespread criticism for spending nearly US $500,000 of aid from Morocco without reference to other members of the government. Ovideo Pequeno, a close ally of President Fradique de Menezes, announced his irreversible decision to resign on Monday. [
IRIN]

COMING UP...

26.02.06 : Tifariti - International Conference of Solidarity wih the Saharawi People

27.02.06: Tifariti - 30th anniversary of the Saharawi Arabic Democratic Republic de la

27.02.06: Tifariti - 6th Sahara Marathon 2006

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