WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 17-18 : 23.04.-06.05.2006

original french

 

SADR

12-23.04.06
The President of the Parliament, Mahfoud Ali Beiba went to Mexico for a week-long visit during which he had meetings with a number of Mexican political officials.

24.04.06
The Prime Minister, Abdelkader Taleb Oumar received a visit from Monica Donini, the President of the Regional Council of Emilia-Romagna, accompanied by a delegation to SADR from the region.

24.04.06
Algeria committed itself to take on the education of staff for the training of Saharawi handicapped people, Djamel Ould Abbés announced, the Algerian Minister for Employment and national solidarity. [SPS]

25.04.06
A SADR delegation took part in a meeting in Nouakchott organised by the African Union and Mauritania, concerning the financing of the electoral process in Mauritania. [SPS]

27-29.04.06
A large delegation representing Algerian civil society stays in the Saharawi refugee camps to take part in a meeting of fraternity and solidarity with the Saharawi people. The demonstration is organised by the Algerian National Committee of solidarity with the Saharawi people. [SPS]

03.05.06
A delegation from the British Trades Union Congress led by the official responsible for external relations for the TUC, Simon Steen, is on a visit to SADR. [SPS]

03.05.06
The President of the Saharawi Republic participates in Abuja in a special African Union summit on illnesses endemic to Africa. [SPS]

04.05.06
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) refuted all the allegations that Morocco has been propagating for years concerning the "deportations", "bad treatment", "sexual abuse", etc. of Saharawi children and students in Cuba.[
Information Note] <http://www.arso.org/UNHCRCuba.htm>

06.05.2002 - 06.05.2006
Four years ago Mohamed-Fadel Ismaïl ould Es-Sweyih, alias Mohamed Fadel, passed by. An opportunity to read again his last text of 21.04.02:
The Sahrawis will never accept to live under Moroccan flag. and others, and to remember that on May 11 the Saharawi students of the Lycée Hassa II renamed their school Lycée Mohamed Fadel Ismail.

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO

22.04.06
A royal pardon was granted, in haste and confusion, to about forty Saharawi political prisoners, to try and calm things down and facilitate the campaign of CORCAS (Royal Consultative Council for Saharan Affairs), in favour of autonomy. Human rights defenders, Ali Salem Tamek, Sidi Sayeli and 17 activists awaiting sentence, including Brahim Dahane, who were to appear before the court on 25 April, are part of the group which also includes El Kainan, whose improper transfer from the Black Prison to Agadir on 21 May 2005 had set off the popular uprising which ended in the intifada. The exact number of Saharawi political prisoners released is not known, nor the criteria of choice. While the palace speaks of 48 or 46 royal pardons, the human rights defenders have counted 33 or 38 releases. [
more] [Comunicado conjunto AFAPREDESA y UJS, 23.04.06]

The prisoners, in the usual way, were welcomed with popular demonstrations as they left prison, during which the police intervened very brutally. As well as the liberated detainees, their friends and members of their families were attacked by the police in El Ayoun and Boujdour. [more]

Several political prisoners just pardoned (about a dozen are mentioned) were again heckled and beaten, both in El Ayoun and Boujdour. During the reception organised in his honour in the latter town, the former detainee, Takhlil Mohamed was tortured by the forces of Moroccan repression and abandoned on his own in the desert, 50 kilometres from Boujdour. Several other people were injured during the police intervention. Another former prisoner, Bouamoud Mohamed, was questioned on 4 May in El Ayoun.

It seems that at least 14 prisoners of opinion are still incarcerated in El Ayoun, they are the object of attacks within the prison. The exact number of detainees in other prisons is not on record.

In Aït Melloul Hassan Abdelahi [Abdallah Ali Salem Mohammed Salem], arrested in El Ayoun on 15 February, on hunger strike since 27 March, was hospitalised in Agadir. He asks to be recognised as a prisoner of opinion and demands and inquiry into the torture he has undergone.

Another political detainee in Inezgane prison (a suburb of Agadir), Laatigue Ahmed, who is under 18 and whose state of health is serious, saw himself refused hospital treatment by the prison management.

25.04.06, El Ayoun
The families of 15 disappeared in December 2005 while attempting to emigrate, formed a committee and organised a sit-in to protest against the refusal to be heard by the authorities. After having contacted the administrative and judicial officers by letter and lodging complaints, they have received no response on the fate of their children. The families maintain that they have information to the effect that their children are being held by the Moroccan secret services. This is the reason that they gathered on boulevard Smara to call for truth on the fate of their children and to denouce their exclusion from the pardon from which other Saharawi political detainees have recently benefited. The intervention by the police forces to disperse the demonstration resulted in several people being injured. [
more]

27.04.06
Ali Salem Tamek and his friends from prison received a triumphal welcome in Assa. [
story] [photos]

Elsewhere the situation worsens further in the territories and southern Morocco. Demonstrations continue in Boujdour, Smara, Dakhla, El Ayoun, Mhamid ElGhizlan as well as in the Moroccan universities of Rabat, Marrakech, Agadir [more]

Arrests are reported in Smara, Dakhla and Assa. Saharawi activists are closely watched, followed, their homes searched, and cybercafés are under the control of an ad hoc commission. The Saharawi population in general is subjected to repeated checks, harrassment, insults. Pupils are sent home from school, parents of schoolchildren are put under pressure, particularly in Boujdour, where the students are very active. This situation illustrates the warnings of the president of CORCAS, Khali Henna ould Rachid, who swings between carrot and stick: in his latest meetings with the notables of the territory to publicise the autonomy proposal, he declared that "no demonstration whatsoever will be tolerated", "we will use every means to repress them very hard", and "no further pardons will be granted". In reaction, tracts against the president of CORCAS were distributed in Smara on 1 May. [on the situation on the ground read [ Ouest France : "Chez les résistants oubliés du Sahara occidental", 02.05.06] ["Les enfants sont les premières victimes de la répression", Le Soir d'Algérie, 02.05.06] [Cuidado con el Sáhara, Josep Saurí, El Periodico, 05.05.06]

The Secretary General of the Polisario Front, in a letter to Kofi Annan of 27 April, summarised the events of recent days and demanded the intervention of the UN Secretary General. [SPS with full text]

26.04.06
In an interview with the Algerian daily Liberté, Ali Salem Tamek declared that "our release is the fruit of activism and pressure applied to Morocco. We have committed no crime nor theft, and we have not asked for pardon. Our position is clear: we are in favour of a referendum of self-determination for the Saharawi people and the creation of an independent Saharawi state." "We are still wanting to recover our independence...the outlook is gloomy, uncertain...the struggle of our people goes on...the Polisario Front should take a clear and speedy position...I am against war in principle, but everyone is convinced here that the return to armed struggle is a necessity to gain independence". [
"Le pouvoir marocain a tout essayé, mais notre combat ne s'est pas arrêté", Hafida Ameyar, Liberté, Alger, 26.04.06]

01.05.06 Goulimine
Trades Unionist Khadija Moutik, regional secretary of the UMT, was attacked and abducted by police agents while she was going to a demonstration on 1 May. She was taken away by force to hospital, where the authorities asked the doctors to testify that the trades unionist is suffering from psychological problems, which they refused to do. Khadija started a hunger strike and called for the prosecutor to shed light on the facts. She is suffering, however, from multiples wounds and fracture of her wrist and foot. Khadija Moutik is known for her commitment to Saharawi workers rights and for her position in favour of self-determnation, this is not the first time she has been a victim of police exactions. She leaves hospital finally on 4 May and lodges a complaint against the police. [
SPS, 04.05.06]

NATUARAL RESOURCES

Phosphate from Western Sahara is sold illegally by Morocco across the world
Western Sahara Resource Watch, an NGO group which follows closely the illegal exploitation of the natural resources of Western Sahara, has identified several transactions:

2004: Mexico imported 44700 tons of phosphate from El Ayoun.
November 2005:  the Turkish flagged vessel Liparit passed through the Turkish straits, last port Laayoune, on its way to Varna, Bulgaria, on November 27th 2005.
February 2006: the vessel Explorer II (IMO number 8025161) under Maltese flag transported 15.600 tons of phosphate rock from El Ayoun to Baranquilla, Colombia.
March 2006: the vessel Moorgate, Liberian flag, British company Zodiac Maritime (?), docked in the harbour of Quatzacoalcos, Mexico. It discharged 29600 tons of phosphate rock from El Ayoun.
March 2006: the vessel Popi S arrived the US, from El Ayoun, on April 10th. It departed El Ayoun with fertilisers on March 23rd. It is a Malta registered Greek vessel.
May 2006: the ship Doric Spirit arrives Port of Tauranga, New Zealand, with fertilizers from El Ayoun.
May 2006: German phosphate exports of WS phosphates to Venezuela. Wilhelm Hansen Ltd.
April 2006: the vessel Bulk Saturn arrived Port of Tauranga, NZ, with fertilizers from El Ayoun.

Sand
2005: The artificial Calheta beach on Madeira was strengthened with sand from El Ayoun. It was transported by the Panama registered - Spanish managed vessel "Seisbulk" (IMO number 9267390), that arrived at least three times last year. Seisbulk is owned by Panaman Coolmore Shipping and managed by Spanish Arabella Enterprises Corp.

02.05.06, Oil
The American company Kerr-McGee announced that it will not renew its oil exploration contract in Western Sahara, which expired on 30 April. According to a statement from the company, because the region "was not a proven hydrocarbons basin". [
dossier]

The Saharawi government welcomed this decision and asked all governments and all businesses to give up the exploitation of the natural wealth of Western Sahara. It asked the company to hand over a copy of the results of its oil prospecting activities. [Press Release SADR] [Upstream Online, 02.05.06] [Libertad Digital, 03.05.06]

03.05.06 EU-Morocco Fishing Agreement
The two amendments proposed by the EFA to the Varela report relating to the EU-Moroccan fishing agreement, in discussion with the Fishing Committee have been rejected. The amendments excluded the territorial waters of Western Sahara from the agreement. The report will be presented to the European Parliament on 15 May.

REFERENDUM

After the Secretary General's report &endash; Before the deliberations of the Security Council

21.04.06
American senators, Edward Kennedy and Jim Inhofe sent a letter to Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State, in which they express their concerns about the blockage of the peace process for Western Sahara. They pronounce themselves in favour of the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people and consider that MINURSO should ensure the defence of the Saharawi people and make their rights respected. [SPS]

22.04.06, Spain
Foreign Minister Moratinos expressed his satisfaction about the UN Secretary General's proposals in his last report, saying he had "made his own the positions defended by Spain for the last two years".

23.04.06, Declaration
In an interview with the Algerian Arabic language daily, Al Khabar, the Saharawi president declared that "Kofi Annan is dragging the UN towards defeat and abdication". He called the last Secretary General's report a "plot against the Saharawi cause" and "irresponsible work", "a serious mistake", "a hypocritical mascarade", "the negation of the referendum of self-determination for the Saharawi people". "If peaceful means do not bring us our rights, we will be obliged to defend them legally by armed combat", he warned. "Our country is working with the UN and its Secretary General within the framework of international law" (...) "it is the strength of law which should come out on top, and not that of France or others", Mohamed Abdelaziz declared. [SPS] [
El Moudjahid]

23.04.06, Rabat
"The only possible solution of the question of the Sahara involves a change in attitude by Algeria, so as to arrive at a definitive solution to this issue, the Moroccan Minister of Communication, government spokesman, Nabil Benabdellah indicated. [
MAP]

24.04.06, Algiers
The Algerian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mohammed Bedjaoui, stated to the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, that his last report on Western Sahara contained "insufficiencies" which risk ending up drifting off-course in relation to international law. "As it happens, all the United Nations resolutions underline their attachment to the principle of self-determination for the Saharawi people. Besides, it was on that legal basis that the settlement plan and the Baker plan were adopted", M. Bedjaoui added. [SPS]

24.04.06
The Polisario Front representative at the UN, Mr Boukhari Ahmed, sent a letter to the president of the United Nations Security Council. The same move was made by the Algerian Ambassador to the United Nations, Youcef Yousfi, to the UN Secretary General.

25.04.06
The Spanish Senate unanimously adopted a motion which asks the government to defend self-determination in the Sahara through a referendum as well as the human rights of the Saharawi population in the occupied territories of Western Sahara. [
agencia] <http://www.europapress.es/europa2003/noticia.aspx?cod=20060425183423&tabID=1&ch=69>

28.04.06, Security Council resolution S/RES/1675 (2006) (fr, engl, esp, arabic)
In a resolution described as "technical", which extends MINURSO's mandate by six months, the Council pronounced itself in favour of a "just, lasting and mutally acceptable political solution", which permits the "self-determination of the Saharawi people" in the context of arrangements "in keeping with the stated aims and principles of the United Nations Charter".

In explaining their vote, certain members of the Council made interesting statements. Thus the American Bolton, launched an "urgent" appeal to the parties to expend the necessary effort to arrive at the solution to the conflict which has been going on too long." If the dispute remained unresolved, it would continue to be the primary impediment to regional stability", he insisted, urging Morocco to put on the table credible and strong proposals which would be certain to gain support from the Polisario. The representative of the United Kingdom was in complete agreement, as were all the other members with the exception of France. He showed himself preoccupied by the deterioration in the human rights situation in Western Sahara and hoped that the mission of the High Commissioner for human rights (to which Morocco objected on several occasions) might finally take place. [Press Release Security Council 28.04.06]

28.04.06, Declarations
Through the voice of its coordinator with MINURSO, M'Hamed Khaddad, the Polisario Front expressed its "satisfaction at the wisdom of the [Security] Council in refusing to subscribe to the policy shift visible in the report [of Kofi Annan]. "The human rights abuses...in the occupied zones of Western Sahara have captured the attention of members of the Council, who have wanted to see greater involvement by the United Nations to protect the defenceless Saharawi populations," declared Mr Khaddad. However, he deplored "France objected categorically to any mention of this question in the final resolution, showing, once again, its blind alignment with Moroccan colonialist policy". [
déclaration en français]

"We are ready to negotiate with Morocco but only on technical questions, to implement the Baker plan in its entirety or the UN settlement plan of 1991", Mohamed Abdelaziz stated, during a press conference at the SADR presidency, while expressing his satisfaction with the vote of the Security Council. [See also the analyses published in the Algerian and Spanish press [Sahara-Info No 4490 and following] [ SPS's summary on 30.04.06] as well as the analyses which appeared in the Opinion page of ARSO]

 28.04.06, Reactions
Algeria expressed its "satisfaction" after the adoption of the resolution, which "is completely in line with the previous positions of the UN", the spokesman of the Foreign Affairs ministry underlined. [SPS]

Spain welcomed the resolution in a positive way. Morocco likewise welcomed the adoption of resolution 1675, which "reiterates the appeals of the Security Council, made over the past two years to the parties and states of the region, to continue to cooperate fully with the UN to put an end to the present impasse and to make progress towards a political solution." [AP]

 02.05.06, Morocco-USA-Spain
A spokesman of the American Department of State, Sean McCormack stated, following the meeting of the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs with Condoleeza Rice, "I know that the Moroccan government has talked about some proposals that it has in mind. I don't think that they have tabled those yet. We ourselves support the parties working through a UN-sponsored process to find a solution that is equitable for everybody, that they can all agree on. That was really it." .

The tour of CORCAS
The American authorities, unlike the Spanish and French (who are still hesitating), refused to receive the president of CORCAS (Royal Consultative Council for Saharan Affairs). The president is carrying out a diplomatic tour. In France he meets on 5 May pro-Moroccan Saharawis before going to Madrid, where he will be received by the Minister for Foreign Affairs on 8 May and by officials of the socialist party and the next day by members of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee.

The Spanish Coordination of Associations of solidarity with the Saharawi people (coordinadora estatal de asociaciones solidarias con el sáhara, CEAS-SÁHARA) protested in a statement about this visit and retraced the long "career" of the president of CORCAS, Khali henna ould Rachid, formerly at the service of Franco's Spain and now in that of Morocco.[Un viejo conocido llama a la puerta,  coordinadora estatal de asociaciones solidarias con el sáhara, ceas-sáhara, 05.05.06]

HUMAN RIGHTS

24.04.06
The Polisario Front representation for Swiss and the United Nations protests at the candidature of Morocco to the United Nations Council of Human Rights, because it does not fulfill the criteria required. [
déclaration]

25.04.06, European Parliament
In its response to the questions of Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE- EFA), Karin Scheele (PSE), Carlos Carnero González (PSE) and Iratxe García Pérez (PSE) concerning the fate of two Saharawi human rights activists, El Mami Amar Salem and Salek Bazeid, Mrs Ferrero-Waldner writes that the Commission is aware of the situation and that it has taken various steps with the Moroccan authorities. The Council had replied in the same manner on 10 April to MEP, Willy Meier Pleite (Verts/ALE-EFA), who asked what steps the Council would take after the death of Lembarki Hamdi Salek, assassinated by the police in Western Sahara.  

27.04.06, European Parliament
The "ad hoc delegation for Western Sahara" of the European Parliament was mandated to organise visits to Morocco, to Western Sahara and to Algeria. Morocco did not take part in any of the eight meetings of the delegation and the visit planned for 23 to 27 March was cancelled. [
Le Journal Hebdo, 27.04.05]

25.04.-01.05.06, Aminatou Haidar in Sweden
Aminatou is invited by Amnesty International in Sweden, the United Nations Association, the Committee for Western Sahara's Women, and the Swedish Western Sahara Committee. Aminatou was received by the City of Stockholm, the Social Democratic party, the Social democratic women, the Liberal party and the Left party. She was saluted by the Liberal and Left party leaders. A seminar was organized with different NGOs and a meeting with the parliamentary intergroup on conditions for Swedish recognition of SADR. [
Press Release] [Photos]

03.05.06, Aminatou Haidar in Spain
CEAR (Spanish Commission for Aid to Refugees), invited Aminatou to Spain. Starting in the Canary Islands, her tour took her to the autonomous regions of Catalonia, the Basque Country, Andalusia, Extremadura, Valencia and Madrid.

On her arrival in the Canaries, the Saharawi human rights activist declared, during a press conference, that "any solution which does not guarantee to the Saharawi people their legitimate and inalienable right to self-determination is totally unacceptable". She deplored the "positions of the French and Spanish governments" which constitute the "stumbling block" which is stopping the organisation of the referendum of self-determination in Western Sahara. She described the official Spanish position as "very ambiguous", not in line with the noble attitude of the Spanish people who have always shown themselves to be in solidarity with the Saharawi cause". She considered that the popular revolt in the occupied territories is a consequence of the intransigence of Morocco. The Saharawi activist spoke during several interviews and during two conferences in Las Palmas. She will be received at the airport of Madrid-Barajas on Saturday 6 May.

V Premio Juan María Bandrés a la Defensa del Derecho de Asilo y la Solidaridad con los Refugiados.
On 8 May she will receive in Madrid the 5th Juan Maria Bandrés Prize for the defence of the right to asylum and solidarity with refugees, which was awarded to her at the end of last year by CEAR, in recognition of her "exemplary commitment to the struggle of the Saharawi people for their legitimate right to decide freely their future". (SPS)

COMING UP...

Madrid
Acto de entrega del Vmo Premio Juan María Bandrés a la Defensa del Derecho de Asilo y a la Solidaridad con los Refugiados, concedido por la Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado (CEAR) y por la Fundación CEAR a Aminetu Haidar, la emblemática defensora saharaui de los derechos humanos 
Madrid, lunes 8 de mayo de 2006, a partir de las 19,00 horas
Lugar: auditorio de la usmr de comisiones obreras - c/ lope de vega, 40 
En la ceremonia, que presentará la actriz Irene Visedo, también participarán destacados artistas e intelectuales comprometidos con la causa del pueblo saharaui, cuya tragedia dura ya más de treinta años.

Valencia
Jornadas sobre España y el Norte de África: vecinda- des problemáticas
Lugar: Aula Joaquín Tomás Villarroya (Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Valencia, Planta 1a, Campus de los Naranjos). Fechas: Martes 16 y miércoles 17 de mayo de 2006, de 16.30 a 21.00 h.
Participan: Ahmed Bujari: El Sáhara Occidental, los obstáculos para su efectiva autode-terminación, y el papel de la ONU / Raquel Ojeda Garcia: La democratización de Marruecos: avances, carencias, y perspectivas / Carlos Ruiz Miguel: Ceuta y Melilla: ¿ciudades sitiadas? / Rubén Martínez Dalmau: Los países del Magreb: entre el aperturismo, el autoritarismo, y el islamismo / Joan Lacom-ba: La inmigración desde el norte de África: problemas políticos y humanitarios / Manuel Torres Soriano: La amenaza del integrismo islámico en España
Información e inscripciones: Departamento de Derecho Constitucional y Ciencia Política. Facultad de Derecho. Planta 1. Campus de los Naranjos s/n. Tel.: 96 382 8120. Fax: 96 382 8119.
www.uv.es/dretconstcpa
Organiza: Dpto. de Derecho Constitucional y Ciencia Política Universitat de Valencia

Paris
Commémorations du 30ème anniversaire de la proclamation de la RASD, de l'anniversaire de la création du Front Polisario et du soulèvement populaire dans les territoires occupés du Sahara Occidental: samedi 20 mai 2006 à 10 heures au Lucernaire, 53 rue Notre Dame des Champs, 75006 Paris, métro: Notre Dame des Champs. Org: F.POLISARIO, AFAPREDESA, Association des familles des prisonniers et disparus sahraouis, Association des travailleurs sahraouis en France, Association des Amis de la RASD, AFASPA, Association Française d'Amitié et de Solidarité avec les peuples d'Afrique, CORELSO, Comité pour le Respect des libertés et des droits humains au Sahara Occidental, Comité algérien de solidarité avec le peuple sahraoui. Information et contact : tel. 0670312497 / 0681324855 - courriels : bur.aarasd@wanadoo.fr / corelso@yahoo.fr

INTERNET

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>> Revue de la presse internationale francophone http://fr.groups.yahoo.com/group/revue-de-presse-sahara-occidental/messages

English

English publications on Sahara Update mailinglist: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sahara-update/messages

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Revista de la prensa en español http://es.groups.yahoo.com/group/revista-de-prensa-sahara-occidental/messages

Italiano

Attualità in italiano: El Ouali Bologna + Radio for Peace

Deutsch

- Die UNO gibt die Westsahara auf, Kofi Annan legt heute im Sicherheitsrat einen Bericht vor. Künftig soll direkt mit Marokko verhandelt werden, Reiner Wandler, taz vom 25.4.2006.

- Marokko hält Kurs, Rabat will rohstoffreiche Region kontrollieren, Von Alfred Hackensberger, Tanger , Neues Deutschland, 27.04.06.

- Waffenstillstand ist kein Selbstzweck, Interview mit Kahlil Sid M'hamed, Martin Ling, Neues Deutschland, 27.04.06. http://www.nd-online.de/artikel.asp?AID=89516&IDC=2

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