WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 21-22 : 21.05.-03.06.2006

original french

 

SADR

19.05.06, Guinea Bissau
Carlos Gomez Junior, president of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea Bissau and Capo Verde (PAIGC), principal opposition party in Guinea Bissau, renewed the support of his party for "the self-determination of the Saharawi people and its independence", in the course of an audience with Mohamed Abdelaziz. [SPS]

20.05.06, Interview on the occasion of the 33rd anniversary of the Polisario Front
Mohamed Abdelaziz asked the United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, to "close once and for all" the Western Sahara dossier before the end of his mandate at the head of the UN, at the end of 2006. He also hoped that a "UN mechanism" would be created charged with the protection of human rights in the occupied territories of Western Sahara, either within MINURSO, or "attached to it". On the subject of the reduction in humanitarian aid for the Saharawi refugees, the Saharawi president declared that "the UNHCR, the WFP and the EU say that they cannot help the most vulnerable refugees, whom they estimate at 90,000. We remind them that the refugees are living in exile, that they have been chased out of their land and dispossessed of their goods by Moroccan colonialism, that they are, in consequence, all vulnerable".  [APS] [SPS]

21-23.05.06, mission of the UN High Commission for Human Rights to SADR
Upon its arrival in the Saharawi refugee camps, Christophe Girod, the head of the mission, declared that their visit [to the occupied territories] had been "very short" and riddled with "various problems". Asked if the mission had visited wounded Saharawis, Girod replied that "as it happens we did meet such persons". To the question of knowing if he had been able to see demonstrations taking place during his stay in El Ayoun, Girod said that he and his colleagues were not at the same place as those events. The mission had talks with the coordinator with MINURSO, Mohamed Khadad, SADR's Minister for the Interior, Mohamed Lamine Deddi and the Minister for Justice, Hamada Salma. The HCHR delegation went the next day to El Ayoun camp for talks with the governor, Mansour Omar, before going to the Olaf Palme school where they met the chioukh. The UN officials were then received for lunch by the Minister for Occupied Territories, Khalil Sidi M'Hamed, before visiting victims of the war and of landmines. In the afternoon, the delegation met the Unions, of Saharawi Workers and  of Saharawi journalists, who presented witnesses of the Moroccan repression. Christophe Girod welcomed the "very good cooperation with the Saharawi authorities". At the end of a meeting with the Prime Minister,  Abdelkader Taleb Omar, Girod said that his delegation "had been able to do its work, both over there [occupied territories], as well as here", he considered that as a whole "the mission went well".  [SPS] [
Informe resumido sobre las actividades de AFAPREDESA y la UJS con la delegación del Alto Comisionado de la ONU para los derechos humanos]

24.05.06
Robert Mugabe received the Secretary General of the Saharawi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Yeslem Beissat. He renewed Zimbabwe's "firm position" of support for the Saharawi people in their struggle for freedom and independence, underlining that "Africa will never be free so long as SADR does not have its sovereignty". The next day in Lusaka, Beissat met the vice-president of Zambia, Lupuando Mwape.

25.05.06, Mozambique
At a commemoration of Africa Day, the Mozambican minister for Transport and Telecommunications, Antonio Francisco Munguambe, declared in a speech that "we are aware that the process of the liberation of Africa has still got a black mark, I refer of course to Western Sahara".

29.05.-02.06.06, African Union  - Ouagadougou
At the opening of the ministerial conference on refugees, repatriated and displaced persons, Mme Julia Dolly Joiner, commissioner for AU Political Affairs declared that "the African Union remains concerned about the situation of the over 165,000 Sahrawi refugees in camps in Algeria". "Despite their attainment of statehood they continue to live in deplorable conditions", she regretted, expressing the hope " that they will one day, sooner rather than later, voluntarily return home to an independent Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.".

20.05.06, Liberated Territories
According to the Algerian daily, La Liberté, SADR will inaugurate on 9 June next, in Aghouinit, in the liberated territories on the border with Mauritania, a desalination plant, a school for children, a hospital and administrative offices for the Saharawi population resident in that locality.

03.06.06, Denial
Polisario Front Representation to Switzerland and the UN Geneva "categorically" refutes deceitful Moroccan allegations, about "a political uprising in the Saharawi refugees camps, with flags and pro-Moroccan slogans". It further invites the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNCHR) to come on the spot to establish the truth and asks for a constant action of the UN body for the Human Rights in the whole area of MINURSO activities. [
communiqué french] [SPS]

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO

19.05.06, mission from the UN High Commission for Human Rights (continued)
"There was good cooperation from the Moroccan authorities (...) We were able to work in complete freedom and they let us speak with everyone", Christophe Girod asserted, head of the delegation from HCHR in a declaration to AFP. According to AP Girod declared that the Moroccan authorities had initially forbidden any contact with Saharawis favorable to the Polisario Front, but that they had finally accepted it. "All those who asked to see us have been able to do it. Certain ones were held back initially by the security services surrounding our hotel. We asked them to allow them in, and they were able to enter the hotel", he explained.

The committee for the protection of detained Saharawis in the Black Prison regretted that the mission stayed "locked away" during its stay "without being able to observe in situ" Moroccan repression against Saharawi civilians, which was taking place just a few metres from where they were staying.

The Saharawi Association of Victims of Serious Human Rights Abuses committed by the Moroccan State reveals in a statement that the  HCHR mission had several meetings with its executive and specialised committees. The Association warns of the danger of an escalation of racism against Saharawis above all by the security forces, abuse of power and blockage of inquiry procedures into hundreds of complaints received by the justice department, as well as continuing human rights abuses.[Communiqué , 23.05.06].

Mohamed Boutebaa, admitted on 17 May last at El Ayoun hospital, where he was treated for injuries inflicted by the Moroccan police was visited by the Human Rights delegation, and was discharged from the hospital before the completion of his treatment.

The anniversary of the Polisario Front, on 20 May, as well as the start of the popular revolt in occupied Western Sahara, were marked by numerous demonstrations in the territories, followed by the usual attacks, injuries, arrests and devastation of dwellings.

In Boujdour Ahmed Zaid Abelkader (Ahmed El Ahmedi) arrested on 17 May was sentenced on 22 by the court in El Ayoun to one year and six months of prison. Between 19 and 31 May, not less than 52 cases of questioning across El Ayoun, Boujdour, Smara, Dakhla and Tan-Tan, including several children of 6, 8 and 12 years! The daughter of Aminatou Haidar was attacked by the school authorities, accusing her of being the author of graffiti on the school walls in favour of self-determination of the Saharawi people. A pregnant woman, visiting Smara from the refugee camps, miscarried following blows struck by the police. In Boujdour, five students were excluded from their school and sent into the desert.

27-28.05.06, El Ayoun
A citizen Saharawi, Esidi Salek Uld Moulud [Salek Sid Ahmed Yahdih Elmamoun Saaidi, born in 1986], was questioned at night while attending a wedding. Taken to the police station on boulevard 24 November, he was sprayed with inflammable liquid. The policemen set fire to his clothing, causing him to suffer severe burns. First admitted to the hospital in El Ayoun, he was later transferred by plane to Casablanca.  [
details, photos]
Salek who is physically handicapped, has already been arrested and given bad treatment in May 2005, then sentenced on 23.06.2005 to two years in prison on a suspended sentence. [
more]
The Saharawi Committee for Support for Self-determination in Western Sahara, chaired by Sidi Mohamed Dadach, protested vigourously against this act. [
Communiqué , 29.05.06]. The same did AFAPREDESA and UJS [comunicado] and the ASVDDH committee of victims [appeal]

The president of the Saharawi Republic, following this ignoble act, sent another letter on 30 May to the UN Secretary General, to ask him to intervene with Morocco.. [SPS]

31.05.06
The municipality of Madrid unanimously passed an urgent motion condemning the repression in the occupied territories and supporting a referendum of self-determination.

01.06.06, Inzegane
Eleven Saharawi political prisoners (nine arrested in Assa on 15 April, two arrested in Goulimine on 6 February and two common law prisoners) observed a 48-hour fast to denounce the conditions of their imprisonment. The majority are awaiting trial, they lack medical care and suffer from bad treatment on the part of the personnel. [
more] Their families have protested with the authorities.  [appel]

31.05.-01.06.06 Europe
On a visit to the European Parliament in Brussels, Aminatou Haidar gave a speech to the ad hoc committee on Western Sahara, constituted last October following the adoption of a resolution on human rights. This group has not been able so far to go to Western Sahara due to Morocco's obstruction. [
texte]
The Saharawi activist was received by the president of the parliament, Josep Borell, the Development and Cooperation Committee and the parliamentary group "Peace for the Saharawi People". [
texte PDF]
Standing at the official rostrum of the parliament, Aminatou Haidar was applauded by the members present. Mrs Haidar told a press conference that she considered the attitude of the Spanish government on Western Sahara to be "lamentable" and that "its silence" in the face of attacks on human rights in the territories was "unpardonable". In the course of talks with Borell, the Saharawi activist requested the intervention of the EU "to put an end to the exactions of the Moroccan occupation authorities against the civilian population."

NATURAL RESOURCES

Export of Phosphate
Ship: Lancelot, arrived in the USA on 15 May 2006, from El Ayoun, customer: PCS Nitrogen. IMO number: 8018089. Agent: K&C Shipping, owner and operator: Purple Maritime Limited.

19.05.06, Sweden
In response to a parliamentary question, the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs and current president of the UN General Assembly, Jan Eliasson, criticised the fishing agreement between the European Union and Morocco. "The position of Sweden conforms with international law, from this point of view Western Sahara is not part of Morocco".[
Statement Polisario Representation for for the Nordic Countries, 19.05.06]

22.05.06, Fishing Agreement
The European Ministers of Fishing formally adopted in Brussels the fishing agreement with Morocco, which stipulates the inclusion of "the Atlantic coast under the sovereignty and jurisdiction of Morocco".  According to this agreement, which covers a period of four years, 119 European boats (of which 100 for Spain) will be able to operate off the Moroccan shore to fish up to 60,000 tonnes of fish a year.
In exchange, the EU will pay make a financial contribution of around 163 million euros for the modernisation of the coastal fishing fleet, the updating of the commercial network for fish products and the support of professional associations in the sector.
Only Sweden voted against the adoption of the agreement, recalling in a declaration that the Sahara "is not part of the territory of Morocco" and that a political process is taking place with the UN to settle the conflict. Three other countries, Finland, the Netherlands and Ireland also displayed reserve, without, however, voting against it.

22.05.06, Statement from the Saharawi Minister for Europe: "The European Union has just committed a very grave blunder". [Statement of M. Sidati].

23.05.06,  Declaration of the government and the President of SADR
The Saharawi government expressed its gratitude to the European countries who expressed reservations and particularly to Sweden. It considered that in committing to the agreement, Spain "aligned itself with the expansionist position of Morocco", and can no longer play "an objective and equitable role in the search for a solution to the conflict in Western Sahara". [
Déclaration]

Mohamed Abdelaziz called on the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, to intervene with the European Union, in order to make the Saharawi territorial waters excluded from the fishing agreement. He also thanked the Swedish Prime Minister for having opposed the agreement.

Sweden
Questioned by Swedish radio, Hans Corell, UN's former legal chief declared that he understands the Swedish protest, "it is actually consistent with the opinion that I expressed in a statement that I made to the Security Council at the time when I was legal counsel to the UN. [
S/161/2002]. Then, it wasn't about fishing, but about oil exploration. But the problem remains the same . Great efforts have been made by the UN to solve this question on the status of Western Sahara. And I can hardly believe that such an agreement will contribute to finding a good solution of that question", says Hans Corell. [full text]

REFERENDUM

16.05.06, European Union
In a declaration on the occasion of the holding of the first Council of association Algeria-EU, the European Union "entirely supports the efforts of peace of the UN in Western Sahara and the "right to self-determination" of the Saharawi people. [SPS]

23.05.06, Spain
The head of the Spanish government, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, reaffirmed his "active commitment for a respectful solution of the right to self-determination" of the Saharawi people, in a message sent to the President of the Republic, Mohamed Abdelaziz, dated 28 April last.[SPS]

23.05.06, Spain
The coordinator of the United Left Party (Izquierda unida 3rd political force in Spain), Gaspar Llamazares, considered "insufficient" the efforts deployed by the Spanish government for the settlement of the Saharawi conflict. [SPS]

27.05.06, Spain
During a seminar organised in Madrid on 25-26 May, the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Moratinos, defended the importance of the Maghreb Union to resolve the problem of Western Sahara. In reply, the Saharawi government considered that the construction of the Maghreb is "conditioned" by the solution of the conflict in Western Sahara and that "the UN is the only context for the solution of the conflict". [SPS]

31.05.06, European Union
The European Union (EU) is in favour of the settlement of the Saharawi question in the global framework of the United Nations, the EU external relations director general, Eneko Landaburu, declared in Algiers adding that "the Scandinavian countries support the Saharawi cause, in contrast to other European countries".

31.05.06, Spain
The spokesman of the parliamentary group of the Canary Coalition, Senator Mendoza Cabrera, declared in a debate on the present state of the government's external policy that "our perception of the position of Morocco, in relation to the unresolved conflict in Western Sahara, is that every time it is more insolent and more contemptuous".

MOROCCO

17.05.06, Marrakech
Two Saharawi students from the University of Marrakech were arrested during a sit-in organised in the university campus on the occasion of the 33rd anniversary of the Polisario Front and the first anniversary of the intifada of independence. These anniversaries were celebrated likewise in the universities of Agadir and Rabat. [SPS]

23.05.06, Rabat
The sit-in planned by AMDH in solidarity with the Saharawi students of the university cities Souissi I and Souissi II, following the events of the night of 8-9 May (see week 19-20), was banned and brutally dispersed.

31.05.06, Canary Islands
The president of CORCAS, the Royal Consultative Council for Saharan Affairs, Khalihenna ould Rachid, starts a three-day visit of the Canary Islands. Associations of solidarity with the Saharawi People consider that this person is undesirable on the archipeligo, for "he only represents himself, and the corruption and repression exercised by Morocco against his brothers." Ould Rachid was not received by the government, but only by low level officials.  

SOLIDARITY

20.05.06, day of solidarity with the Saharawi people, Paris
During a demonstration, the representative of the Polisario Front in France, Sadafa Bahia, denounced "the support of successive French governments for the Moroccan regime". Speakers brought testimonies on the repression exerted by Moroccan powers on the Saharawis in reprisal for their "civil, peaceful and courageous resistance". The mayor of Vitry-sur-Seine, Alain Audoubert, emphasised the solidarity of his commune with the Saharawi people. [SPS]

27.05.06, Africa Day, Paris
The celebration of Africa Day was the occasion, in the Algerian cultural Centre in Paris, for a conference-debate organised in solidarity with the Saharawi people by the Algerian Committee in Europe of solidarity with the Saharawi people. Its president, Boughalem Nacer, Régine Villemont, general secretary of the French Association of Friends of SADR, Jean-Paul Lecoq, mayor of Gonfreville l'Orcher, Asfari Ennaâma, Sadafa Bahia, representative of the Polisario Front in France, and Yahia Zoubir, an international relations specialist notably on the question of Western Sahara, spoke during the conference. [SPS]

 

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

- Sahara Info, bulletin de l'AARASD, Paris, no 134, janv.-mars 2006.

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

- EU accepted agreement in occupied waters, Interview with the UN's former legal chief,  Hans Corell, Swedish Radio, Ekot, 22.05.06, Translation by Sahara Update/The Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara.

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