WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 19-20 : 07.05.-20.05.2006

original french

 

SADR

08.05.06
In Addis Ababa, the Saharawi Republic signed a convention on the prevention of and the fight against terrorism adopted by the African Union. [SPS]

10.05.06
The Saharawi president, Mohamed Abdelaziz attended the investiture ceremony of the Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni. Museveni reaffirmed "support in principle" of his country for the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and independence. [SPS]

13.05.06
During a working visit of the Saharawi president in Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, reiterated the support of his country for SADR and its position of principle in favour of a just solution for the "last case of decolonization in Africa". [SPS]

20.05.06, Polisario Front, 33rd anniversary of the start of the armed struggle

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO

08.05.06, El Ayoun
Children are not spared by the police. Mohamed Ali Mohamed and Najem Mohamed Ahmed Salem, born in 1995, were arrested and mistreated in a police car and in a police station. The policemen were trying to find out who is handing out the Saharawi flags. [
Enfants victimes des violences policières][Ninos victimas de la violencia policial]

09.05.06, Inzegane Prison
Lihmam Salama, common law prisoner serving a 10 year prison sentence, started a hunger strike with fellow prisoners at the end of April. They consider they have been punished because of their Saharawi origin.
Ten Saharawi political prisoners in the same prison fasted for 24 hours on the occasion of the anniversary of the foundation of the Polisario Front and sent a message of congratulations to the organisation.

10.05.06, anniversary of the foundation of the Polisario Front
Demonstrations on this occasion in educational establishments in El Ayoun, Smara, Dakhla, Boujdour. Distribution of leaflets in all the towns of Western Sahara and in Southern Morocco. In El Ayoun the detention of former prisoners was reported as well as the expulsion of 26 students from Lemsala, Al-lal Ben Abdala and Lisana Eddine Ibnou Khattib colleges, because they were wearing traditional Saharawi dress. In Dakhla the authorities suspended the granting of any new licence to open a cybercafé.

10.05.06, Spain
The General Bar Council of Spain (CGAE) denounced the holding in detention of 14 Saharawi human rights activists in Moroccan prisons, and the "continuing attacks by the Moroccan police against the released prisoners as well as arbitrary detentions". There are still 14 Saharawi political prisoners in the prisons of El Ayoun (2), Inzegane (10) and Aït Melloul (2). [SPS].

12.05.06
Smara: Demonstration against the Moroccan presence on the occasion of the welcoming of families coming from the camps. Five arrests. In Boujdour: Demonstration of school children and college students, the Saharawi flag flies from certain school buildings. On 14, pupils Safia Sidi Brahim Khaya and Manna Sidi Brahim Khaya are arrested at the lycée Omar Ben Alkhattab.

Tantan: the Saharawi association of fishermen employed by the Moroccan Omnium of fishing (OMP), which belongs to the King, organised a sit-in to demand the payment of their wages.

In M'hamid elGhizlan another sit-in outside the administration building in favour of respect for human rights. The national Saharawi colours were raised on several houses and government buildings, as well as at entry gates to the town, to celebrate the 33rd anniversary of the birth of the Polisario Front. [SPS]

15.05.06, Aït Melloul prison
A political prisoner Lahcen Abdallahi, on hunger strike since 27 March, decided to suspend his action after having got certain rights recognised for political prisoners. He is maintaining his complaint against the director of the prison, responsible for giving bad treatment. The Saharawi president, M. Abdelaziz had intervened in his favour with the UN Secretary General.

15.05.06, El Ayoun
Arrest and bad treatment of Saharawi pupils at El Ayoun III college. Police are regularly stationed outside educational establishments. Sometimes they come into the grounds or even into the classrooms to attack Saharawi students. Demonstrations in several streets and questioning of Saharawis.

14-23.05.06, Visit of a delegation from the UN High Commission for Human Rights

For many years, organisations defending human rights in Western Sahara have been asking for a commission of inquiry into human rights abuses. In his report of 13.10.05 (S/2005/648), Kofi Annan said he was concerned and raised the possibility of intervention by the HCHR. A mission to the area planned for November having been adjourned on several occasions by Morocco, President Abdelaziz repeated the request for an inquiry on  28.03.06.
This first exploratory mission, which is going to Morocco and Western Sahara and to the refugee camps in Tindouf, has as its aim to examine the situation of human rights in order to formulate recommendations and follow-up to Louise Arbour, the High Commissioner.

The delegation consists of Christophe Girod (leader of the delegation and former delegate of the ICRC), of Mrs Karin Lucke, coordinator for the Arab world and Roueida El Hage, responsible for North Africa.

BEFORE THE VISIT

The aim of the authorities of occupation was to prevent any independence demonstrations by a huge deployment of forces of order, repression, intimidation, manipulation and dissuasion.

The different Moroccan security bodies were reinforced, 7000 agents deployed in civilian dress or in traditional Saharawi clothes.  Schools and quarters with a predominance of Saharawis were especially targeted. Military detachments were placed in various strategic places.

Traditional Saharawi clothes were handed out to Moroccan settlers to use in pro-Moroccan counter-demonstrations. The authorities prepared a busy program for the mission of meetings with various political bodies, both local and regional, members of CORCAS, associations of defectors etc.

Cases of pressure and intimidation: the father of one of the 15 disappeared in December after an attempt to emigrate, was advised that these persons are in the hands of the authorities and that they will be released if no demonstration takes place. Trades Union employees from the Fos-Bucraa company, who wanted to demonstrate before the UN commission, were surprised by the Moroccan administration's decision, "promising" the solution to their problems if they "didn't hold a demonstration".

THE VISIT

15-16.05.06, Rabat
Meeting with the Secretary General of the Consultative Council for Human Rights (CCDH), Mahjoub el Haiba, with parliamentarians and personalities active in the field of human rights, as well as with the president of the Royal Consultative Council for Saharan Affairs (CORCAS).

17-19.05.06, El Ayoun
The delegation of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights was able to hear several Saharawi NGOs who denounced the human rights abuses in Western Sahara: the Saharawi Committee against serious Human Rights abuses committed by the Moroccan State, led by Brahim Dahane, whose three members, Bachir Lekhfaounni, Daha Rahmouni and Mohamed Fadel El Hairech were questioned on the way home from their hearing. The Committee of Families of Disappeared Saharawis, chaired by Jimi El Ghalia, who handed to the Commission a list naming 116 disappeared Saharawis, the Committee for the Self-Determination of the Saharawi People, led by the Rafto 2002 Prize-winner for human rights, Sidi Mohamed Daddach, the Association of families of martyrs in Moroccan Police Stations, the Committee for the Protection of Saharawi Political Prisoners in the Black Prison, the Collective of Saharawi Human Rights Defenders, the Association of Victims of Torture in Smara, led by Naciri Ahmed, who told of "the carnage which took place on 26 March last during the home-coming of a Saharawi political prisoner", the Sahara Branch of the Forum for Truth and Justice, chaired by Moutik Lahoussine and others.

During the hearings on 17 May, the Moroccan forces of repression, in plainclothes and in uniform, armed with truncheons, intervened against Sahrawi citizens who were demonstrating peacefully in the Maatallah quarter, to claim the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination. A counter-demonstration of "Moroccan citizens", brandishing portraits of the King and Moroccan national flags took place in parallel. 18 persons were questioned of whom five were former political prisoners, a large number of people were injured, including two seriously. [ photos I + photos II ]
In an amateur video from May 17 one can see how civilians armed by truncheons collaborate with the police to pursue Saharawi people, that some people in traditional Saharawi clothes also work closely with the police, and the very important amount of security services in the streets. [
Video to download]

The President of the Saharawi Republic called for the "urgent" intervention of the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, to "protect Saharawi civilians" in the occupied territories of Western Sahara, of whom over fifty have been wounded and 22 others arrested during the peaceful demonstrations of th 17th. [SPS]  BIRDHSO , the International Bureau for the Respect of Human Rights in Western Sahara, launched an urgent appeal to the United Nations High Commission [doc Word] [PDF]

On 18 May the mission went to the Black Prison and to the Hassan II hospital. The Moroccan authorities prohibited the representatives of the Collective of Saharawi Human Rights Defenders from meeting the mission again, even though an appointment had been made. Local and regional authorities, pro-Moroccan associations and of defectors occupied the rest of the mission's stay, who left El Ayoun the evening of 19.05 and arrived in Tindouf on 20.05.06 [more Info]

NATURAL RESOURCES

Illegal export of phosphates, (ctd)
February 2005: the ship Pontoporos (IMO no 8318609) Cypriot flag arrived in Barranquilla, Colombia, with 15,000 tonnes of phosphates from El Ayoun. Agent: Bulk Maritime Agencies Ltd.
April 2005: the ship Meta (IMO no 860830) Maltese flag arrived in Baraquilla with 15,000 tonnes of phosphates from El Ayoun. Agent: Bulk Maritime Agencies Ltd.
May 2005: the ship Zefyros Breeze (IMO no 8103200) from Hong Kong, arrived in Baranquilla with 15,000 tonnes of phosphates from El Ayoun. Agent: Bulk Maritime Agencies Ltda.
July 2005: the ship Vessel Oriental (IMO no 9127629) from Greece, arrived in Baranquilla with 15,831.17 tonnes of phosphates from El Ayoun. Agent: Bulk Maritime Agencies Ltd.

16.05.06
The European Parliament passed by 409 votes for, 197 against and 79 abstentions, the fishing agreement with Morocco. Spain is the principal beneficiary, since 100 of the 119 fishing licences go to this country, principally to Andalusia and the Canaries. The amendments which rejected the inclusion of Saharawi territorial waters in the agreement were rejected, except for one which provided for "the financial compensation of the European Community (144 million euros spread over four years), should be used for the development of coastal populations of Morocco and Western Sahara". Even though the agreement was voted at the end of French and Spanish pressure, it was not accepted by three groups (GUE/NGL, Greens/ALE, UEN), as well as  several Socialists and Conservatives. A committee to follow-up was formed in order to verify if the local populations benefit from it. The Council of ministers should approve this agreement on 22 May.

16.05.06
The coalition of activists "Fishelsewhere" has warned the European Commission that it risks being the subject of legal action in European courts if the fishing agreement is approved without the exclusion of the occupied territory. [
EU Votes to Steal Saharan Fish, press release Fishelsewhere campaign, 16.05.06]. [dossier]

16.05.06
Mohamed Sidati, Minister Delegate for Europe, expresses his profound indignation and describes the inclusion of the Saharawi territorial waters in the agreement as "a grave and tragic error". He calls it "null and void", "an operation of international robbery" which the Spanish government backed and for which it worked hard to mobilise support. Sidati announces that his government will do all it can to render the agreement invalid. [
Déclaration] [Declaracion]

17.05.06
The European Parliamentary intergroup for Western Sahara wonders, after the adoption by the Parliament of the fishing agreement, how they could guarantee that the benefit of the agreement would be distributed to the Saharawi population, which it is cut in two by a wall and that the country is illegally occupied. The intergroup puts the question to the Commission and to the Council and asks them, in the process of making any agreement with Morocco to include respect for human rights and the recognition of the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people. [
Declaracion].

REFERENDUM

10.05.06, German Parliament
Gernot Erler, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, replying to questions before the Bundestag, reaffirmed that the German government will continue its policy of "intensive" support for the efforts of the UN towards a peaceful solution to the conflict in Western Sahara. The minister added that, iff the parties to the conflict "wish that we should again offer our good offices, we would do it willingly". [
siehe Stenogr. Bericht Seite 2853]

MOROCCO

08.05.06, Rabat
Joumani Najem, a Saharawi student at the University of Rabat was seriously injured and the driver of a taxi killed during a traffic accident on Al Irfane Street. About a thousands students from the University cities Souissi I and II, both Saharawi and Moroccan, protested against the insecurity of the street, which unleashed intervention by the riot squad who invaded the university cities for several hours. Many student rooms were vandalised. 34 Saharawi students were injured, including one, Bachir Mayara, seriously. Bachir Mayara was thrown from the fourth floor of a building, he suffered multiple fractures.
In a statement, the students consider that this "barbarous intervention" by the Moroccan security forces was intended as "a warning to possible demonstrations" which the Saharawi students might hold by way of commemoration of the birth of the Polisario or the first anniversary of the Intifada of Independence. [SPS]

18.05.06, Agadir
Peaceful demonstration of Saharawi students, savagely repressed. Several people are injured and arrested.

ALGERIA

07.05.06
Colonel Ely Ould Mohamed Vall, head of the ruling junta in Mauritania, on a visit to Algeria, underlined, in connection with Western Sahara, that Mauritania reaffirms its support to the efforts deployed by the United Nations towards a definitive solution which satisfies all the parties.

SPAIN

08.05.06 Visit of Aminatou Haidar to Spain (ctd)
During a press conference at the head office of the Spanish Committee of aid to refugees (CEAR), Aminatou Haidar denounced the "serious violations" of human rights which are committed in the territories by Moroccan authorities. She indicated that her visit to Spain has a double objective. To thank the Spanish community for its "noble solidarity and indestructible support to the Saharawi cause" and "to raise awareness and inform them about the dramatic situation" being experienced in the Saharawi occupied territories. "We wish the Spanish society would apply pressure to their government" to support unambiguously the right to self-determination", she declared. "This appeal is addressed equally to France, whose policy constitutes an obstacle to peace in Western Sahara", She underlined that the "autonomy plan" for Western Sahara announced by Rabat is a "stillborn proposal", "totally rejected by the Saharawi people". [SPS]

In Madrid Aminatou Haidar received the 5th Juan Maria Bandres Prize for the defence of the right to asylum and solidarity with refugees, awarded by CEAR. "Through this prize, CEAR and Spanish civil society as a whole, send a profound message of condemnation of human rights abuses which are perpetrated by the Moroccan occupation in Western Sahara. It is likewise a homage to the struggle and sacrifices of the Saharawi people, particularly of its women", she declared. [SPS]
During her stay in Madrid, Aminatou Haidar was received by the head of the human rights bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and by officials from political parties. She continued her tour in the Iberian peninsula by visiting Catalonia, the Basque Country and Andalusia. She will be in Valence on 21. Throughout her tour Mrs Haidar has been received by several regional parliaments, town halls, human rights associations and those in solidarity with the Saharawi people.

HUMAN RIGHTS

09.05.06, UN &endash; Council of Human Rights
Morocco was again elected to the Council of Human Rights in the UN.

18.05.06, European Parliament
The European Parliament approved an amendment of the group GUE/NGL to the Report concerning human rights in the world.Report (rapport Howitt, A6-0158/2006) in which he « Recalls its resolution of 27 October 2005 on human rights in Western Sahara; welcomes the release of Saharawi political prisoners by the Moroccan authorities but condemns the continuation of human rights violations against the Saharawi population; calls for the Saharawi population to be protected and fundamental rights - particularly freedom of expression, movement and demonstration - to be respected; reiterates its call for a just and lasting solution to the conflict in Western Sahara, based on the right of self-determination of the Saharawi people, in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions, particularly Resolution 1495;.» [
Communiqué Mohamed Sidati]

COMING UP...

MARIEM HASSAN - PRÓXIMOS CONCIERTOS:
28 mayo: Festival Mundumira, Oñati
09 junio: Pamplona
23 junio: Rivas Vaciamadrid, Madrid II Foro Mundial para las Migraciones
08 julio: Parla, Madrid
14 julio: Gandía, Alicante
21 julio: Vilanova I la Geltrú, Barcelona
23 julio: Festival Colours, Ostrava (República Checa)
29 julio: Festival de Sintes (Portugal)

INTERNET

 

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