WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 23-24 : 04.06.-17.06.2006

original french

 

SADR

31.05.-16.06.06, 95th session of the International Labour Conference
A delegation of the Saharawi General Worker's Union (UGTSARIO) takes part in proceedings in Geneva.

02.06.06, Mozambique
Mohamed Yeslem Beissat, the secretary general of the Saharawi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was received by the President of Mozambique, Armando Emilio Guebuza, who renewed his country's position of "traditional and firm support" for "the struggle of the Saharawi people against foreign domination and for its independence and freedom".

03.06.06, denial
The Polisario Front representation in Switzerland denies the allegations in the Moroccan media of a "political uprising in the Saharawi refugee camps with slogans and flags in favour of Morocco". It invites the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights to come immediately and inquire into the situation and to put in place permanent ways of monitoring the human rights situation in the whole of MINURSO's zone.[
communiqué]

06.06.06, confidence-building measures
"The Moroccan colonial authorities have not respected the program and the timetable established by the UNHCR and accepted by the two parties in February 2006". They want "to reduce to a minimum visits from and to El Ayoun, the theatre of bloody confrontations between peaceful Saharawi demonstrators and the forces of occupation",  M'hamed Khaddad spelt out during a press briefing. The Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs had pointed to the Polisario as the reason for the suspension, for two weeks, of the visits between Saharawi families. Khaddad indicated that the Moroccan authorities "despite the persistent demand of the Polisario to allow the maximum number of people to benefit from this program, still refuse to raise the number to 100 as the Polisario wishes, and do not want under any circumstances to surpass 28 persons." [SPS]

06.06.06, denial
"The Polisario has never made any threats to the French contingent in MINURSO", contrary to the information reported by the official Moroccan news agency MAP, affirmed Mhamed Khadad. He acknowledged that the Polisario had always "expressed misgivings about the French presence within MINURSO", because French policy "constitutes a real obstacle for peace and stability in the region through its unquestioning alignment to the expansionist position of Rabat". "Paris has no credibility for playing any role whatsoever in the peaceful resolution of the conflict", he added. [SPS] [
communiqué]

08.06.06, Tuscany, Italy
The region of Tuscany, in a motion approved unanimously by its regional Council, asks the Italian government to recognise SADR.

08.06.06, liberated territories
The annual conference of the Saharawi Community abroad opened in Aghoueinit, in the liberated territories of SADR. Speaking at the opening of this conference, President Abdelaziz declared that "all efforts have now to be invested in maintaining support for the intifada of independence which started on 21 May 2005 in the occupied territories of Western Sahara". [SPS]

09.06.06, 30th anniversary of the Day of the Martyr
The Polisario Front commemorated this anniversary in Aghoueinit. President Abdelaziz, in the course of his speech, called for "support for the intifada, to reinforce national unity and diversify the peaceful struggle to impose our legitimate rights to self-determination and independence". He welcomed the "courageous" position of the Moroccan political party Ennahj Dimoucrati (Democratic Way), of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights and the "Mauritanian Alliance of Solidarity with the Saharawi People", created recently in Nouakchott. Abdelaziz inaugurated a hospital financed by the Basque Country, a water desalinisation plant financed by Andalusia and a communication centre. He laid the foundation stone of a school and the town hall. The Day of the Martyr was marked by sporting activities, camel races, cultural evenings and military competitions.
The Saharawi Minister for Defence, Mohamed Lamine Bouhali, in a speech, appealed to all bodies and organisations around the world, to "exert pressure" on Morocco. "the passivity of the UN and its failure to defend international law and to honour its commitment to implement the peace plans for Western Sahara" and "the lack of firmness in the Security Council in all its resolutions" encourage Morocco to continue its illegal occupation of the territory, he underlined. [SPS]

12.06.06, African Union
Abdelaziz arrived in Abuja to take part in the AU on soil fertilisation in Africa.

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO

20-21.05.06, visit of a Basque parliamentary delegation
Two Basque members of parliament travelled to El Ayoun where they were able to make contact with activists of various Saharawi associations defending human rights. [
Report in Spanish]

29.05.-03.06.06, testimony of Carlos Gonzalez
An American photographer reports impressions of his trip to El Ayoun [
informe]

01.06.06, Collective of Saharawi human rights defenders
In a statement, the Collective asks for a just, transparent and impartial inquiry concerning the complaints lodged by the family of the former Saharawi political prisoner, Salek Saidi and by Mohamed Boutabaaa. [
communiqué]

01.06.06, Smara
Creation of a committee for the defence of human rights in Smara, chaired by Vekou Lebaihi. [SPS]

03.06.06, interview
Brahim Sabar, secretary general of the Saharawi Association of victims of serious human rights abuses by the Moroccan state, denounced, in the Moroccan weekly El Bidaoui, "the systematic and continual violations of human rights" perpetrated by the Moroccan government against Saharawi civilians and warns of the dangers of a "radicalisation" of the Intifada if Rabat persists in its repression. Questioned on the Moroccan proposal for autonomy, Sabar pointed out that he sees "nothing new there, only the attachment of the Moroccan state to conspire against the inalienable rights of the Saharawi people to self-determination". Sabar was briefly arrested following the interview. [SPS] [
communiqué ASVDDH]

03-06.06.06, intifada
Several demonstrations in El Ayoun on 3 and 5 June, in Boujdour on 5. Seven persons were arrested in El Ayoun, four in Smara and two in Dakhla, while seven persons were arrested and their homes ransacked in El Ayoun-Plage.

04.06.06, hunger strikes
48-hour hunger strike of the former Saharawi political detainee, Alouate Sidi Mohamed, to claim protection for Saharawi citizens, the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and an immediate stop to human rights abuses in Western Sahara. Three Saharawi political prisoners in the Black Prison, Ahmed El Ahmedi, Laroussi Cheibada and Abderrahmane Lekouara, do likewise in solidarity with their compatriots on hunger strike since 31 May in the same prison, Deddi Hmada and Ahmed El Moussaoui. Several Saharawi human rights associations have kept a close watch on these hunger strikers.

In Marrakech, a Saharawi human rights activist and trades unionist, Mohamed Jaïm, has been carrying out a hunger strike since 30 May outside the administration building in protest at the inhuman practices used against him by the pasha of Benguérir and against the flagrant violations of human rights committed by the Moroccan state.

The group of 12 Saharawi political prisoners from Inzegane started a hunger strike on 7 June in protest at the conditions of their detention, the harrassment which they undergo on a daily basis and for their wish to be put together in the same cell. One of them was transferred to Salé, put into isolation with all rights removed. The mothers of these strikers, concerned for the life of their sons, drew up a letter to the authorities to demand the release of the prisoners before it is too late. The group stopped their strike on 15 June, the prison administration having undertaken to place them in the same room and to respect their rights.

09.06.06, 30th Anniversary of the Day of the Martyr
The anniversary of the death of the founder of the Polisario front, El Wali, was also celebrated in the occupied territories and in Southern Morocco. Leaflets and flags were distributed as well as several demonstrations in El Ayoun followed by violence used against the demonstrators and 19 arrests. Dwellings were wrecked. In Tan Tan the situation is tense, several demonstrations have been reported, on 9 and 13 June followed by three arrests. In Boujdour fiveyoung Saharawis have been deprived of their wages for four months "for having taken part in demonstrations in favour of independence of their country". [
compte-rendu] [photos] [video]
Saharawi university students in Rabat issued a joint statement, at the ceremony and insisted on the continuance of the intifada.

10.06.06
The families of 15 Saharawis, disappeared in December last, during an attempt to emigrate to the Canary Islands were called in verbally, by the Public Prosecutor for DNA tests, in order to determine the identity of four bodies recovered between January and March 2006. Despite the declaration of Mohamed Bouzoubaâ, Minister for Justice during a meeting with the families in El Ayoun on 14 June 2006, affirming that full light would be shed, the families have no confidence in the authorities. The discovery of bodies had been denied until now, and contradictory information has been given on several occasions.

13.06.06, El Ayoun
Demonstration of Saharawi unemployed to denounce the pauperisation of Saharawis who are pushed to illegal emigration.

14.06.06, El Ayoun
In a statement on the occasion of the anniversary of the Zemla revolt, triggered on 17 June 1970 and 36 years after the disappearance of the symbol of Saharawi national resistance, Mohamed Bassiri, a group of human rights defenders give the name of Zemla to the present intifada and "officially" re-baptise a certain number of quarters, squares, streets and schools in El Ayoun. [
document in Arabic]

14.06.06
The Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) expressed its "concern at the deterioration of the state of health" of the Saharawi political prisoners on hunger strike in the prisons of Aït Melloul and Inzegane". [SPS]

NATURAL RESOURCES

03.06.06, Australia
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade notes that given the status of Western Sahara as a Non-Self-Governing Territory, there are international law considerations with importing natural resources sourced from the Western Sahara. We recommend that companies seek legal advice before importing such material.[
declaration]

Illegal exportation of phosphates: ETA Napier: 6 Jul 2006; ETD Lyttleton: 8 Jul 2006; Agent: SMS; Carrying fertilisers from Laayoune; IMO number: L9082908; Owner: Sea Priority SA; Operator: DST Shipping Inc. (Plan Holder) from Greece

15.06.06
Australia Western Sahara Association (Victoria) calls on fertiliser company Incitec Pivot to stop importing Western Sahara phosphate.
[Press release]

REFERENDUM

02-03.06.06, Cordoba
Meeting for their first general meeting, the delegates of CEAS, la Coordinadora Estatal de Asociaciones Solidarias con el Sahara, demanded that the Spanish government should change its attitude towards the Saharawi people, who are being used as bargaining chips in discussions with Morocco. [
final declaration, Spanish]
They also declared as persona non grata the president of CORCAS, the Consultative Council for Saharan Affairs, who is preparing to visit Andalusia.

06.06.06, Spanish Cortes
A resolution asking for "support of the legitimate rights of the Saharawi population to exercise their right to self-determination and asking for respect for human rights in occupied Western Sahara, proposed by the Canary group CC-NC, was approved by the two chambers meeting despite the opposition of the PSOE.
A second resolution was adopted without opposition, supporting the action of the United Nations secretary general  and his personal envoy in favour of a just, durable and mutually acceptable political solution, which allows for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. [
texts of the resolutions in Spanish]

06.06.06, UN, Special committee on decolonization,
The Polisario Front representative denounced the recent signature of the Fishing Agreement in Saharawi waters by the European Union and Morocco, considering that this Agreement is illegal. He asked for it to be revised in keeping with international law.[
UN Release]

07.06.06, Belgium
The Flemish Senator, Jacinta de Roek, president of the Belgian parliamentary intergroup, "Peace for the Saharawi people", organised a meeting in the Senate on the situation in Western Sahara with Aminatou Haidar, during which various members of parliament spoke, Sara Eyckmans, political scientist, Francis Schuman, representing Amnesty international Belgique, Mohamed Belfilalia, from the Moroccan party "The Democratic Way", the Minister Counselor representing the Polisario in Europe, Mohamed Sidati and Senator Pierre Galand. [SPS][
document PDF in Flemish]

09-14.06.06, Italy
Aminatou Haidar, on an awareness-raising tour explaining the situation in Western Sahara, was received by the President of the Tuscan region, Claudio Martini, who renewed the commitment and active solidarity of the Tuscan authorities and population with the Saharawi people.

Several demonstrations were organised on the occasion of Aminatou Haidar's visit. The Saharawi activist met many personalities such as Maria Cervi, the authorities of the province of Emilia-Romagna, the President of the province of Bologna Beatrice Draghetti, the President of the Provincial Council of Rome, Adriano Labbucci, Carlo Leoni, vice-president and Fausto Bertinotti, president of the Chamber of Deputies (lower house). The latter deplored the lack of concrete actions of the international community to put an end to human rights abuses in Western Sahara. [SPS]

08-09.06.06, Aragon, Spain
The parliaments of the autonomous region of Aragon expressed their "firm support" for the Saharawi people and their right to self-determination through "a free and democratic referendum under the auspices of the UN", according to a joint declaration adopted by a plenary session of the parliaments held in Saragossa. [
full text in Spanish]

08-16.06.06, Switzerland
A delegation of Saharawi parliamentarians is visiting Switzerland. On its arrival in Geneva it took part in a session of the Genevan Great Council (Parliament), where it was given a long ovation by the deputies. In Lausanne, the delegation was received by François Marthaler, Minister of Infrastructure and member of the Greens, accompanied by members of the government and several deputies. Later, Rémy Jaquier, mayor of Yverdon-les-Bains and members of the Executive Council welcomed the delegation, who were also received by Pierre Yves Maillard, the vice-president of the Swiss Socialist Party (PSS) and the Minister of Health and Social Action of the Canton of Vaud. During their visit to Bern, the final stage of their tour, the delegation spoke at the parliament in a meeting on the theme "How to solve the conflict in Western Sahara?", in which deputies from the ecologist party, the Greens (PES) and the Socialist Party (PSS) participated.  [communiqués de la Représentation du F. Polisario en Suisse [
09.06.06] [12.06.06] [14.06.06] [déclaration commune en français]

09.06.06, Russia
The Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergeï Lavrov, leaving a meeting with his Moroccan counterpart, Mohamed Benaïssa, and questioned on the settlement of the conflict in Western Sahara, declared that Russia actively supports the role of the UN secretary general in the search for compromise solutions. [RIA Novosti] [
texte français]

13.06.06, China
To a question on China's position on Western Sahara, the spokesman of the Foreign Affairs Ministry replies: China has a consistent position on the Western Sahara question. We maintain that the question should be properly resolved through dialogue and consultation on the basis of the UN resolutions. China hopes that the parties concerned will bear in mind the overall purpose of maintaining regional unity, stability and development and return to the track of friendly consultation. We support a solution acceptable to all parties. [
declaration]

HUMAN RIGHTS

05.05.06 ECOSOC
Report in parallel with the 3rd periodic report of the Moroccan government, Moroccan Association of human rights- AMDH.

19.05.06 ECOSOC
Study of the
reports presented by party states in accordance with articles 16 and 17 of the Pact: Morocco, Committee of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

HUMANITARIAN AID

12 June 2006
Desert Convoy Leads The Way For A New Humanitarian Project
In July 2006, a volunteer-driven convoy of specially armoured vehicles and unexploded ordnance (UXO) clearance equipment will begin a journey covering 2,000 kilometres across the West African desert, marking the start of a new humanitarian initiative to address the problem of UXO contamination in the Western Sahara and its impact on the civilian population. The most heavily mined areas of the country are alongside the berm, a 2,400km long earthwork fortification that runs the length of the Western Sahara dividing the Moroccan and Polisario controlled zones. However, the fighting has also left the wider region littered with explosive debris, including cluster munitions, and has made travelling in the territory a lethal proposition. Landmine Action's survey and clearance initiative is the first such project in the Western Sahara and, working with Polisario and the MINURSO, aims to build local capacity for swift response and clearance into the future. Results of this project will include:

o  Building confidence amongst the civilian population, in particular nomadic pastoralists.

o  Ensuring peacekeeping forces and NGOs have free access to all areas.

o  Demonstrating serious planning for movement towards a settlement of the sovereignty issue in the Western Sahara.

During the initial stages of the project, two teams of six demobilised Polisario army engineers will be trained by Bosnian, British and Russian experts to map minefields and destroy cluster munitions.

The long term plan will see the formation of a local non-governmental organisation (NGO) to take responsibility for the continuation of the project.

o   The vehicles and specialist equipment will be shipped from the UK to the Algerian port of Oran from where they will be driven over three days, through Algeria before arriving in Tifariti, Western Sahara. [full text]

SOLIDARITY

22.05.06, Tokyo
The Japan-Sahara Association organised, in collaboration with the Japan-Africa Forum and the Committee of solidarity of Japan-Asia-Africa-Latin America, a meeting to update the situation in Western Sahara. The Association published a statement which asks the Japanese government to deploy active diplomatic efforts towards setting up the referendum of self-determination in Western Sahara and to stop the illegal exploitation of the natural resources as well as establishing a dialogue with SADR or the Polisario Front. [
Letter of the Japan-Sahara Association to Japan Prime Minister Mr. Junichiro Koizumi, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Taro Maso and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Mr. Shoichi Nakagawa. 30.05.06]

09.06.06, Tuscany
The provincial Council of the region of Florence celebrated the 20th anniversary of twinning with the Smara refugee camp, in the presence of representatives of Florence, Greve in Chianti, Sesto Fiorentino, Montespertoli, Pontassieve, Bagno a Ripoli, Campi Bisenzio, Montelupo Fiorentino, Signa, Certaldo et Calenzano. Elio Marini, the former mayor of  Sesto Fiorentino, who died in 1997, has not been forgotten. He signed the first twinning pact and committed himself over a long time in favour of the Saharawi people.

COMING UP...

Los pintores saharauis Fadel Jalifa y Fadili Yeslem presentan sus exposiciones en España.

II FORO SOCIAL MUNDIAL DE LAS MIGRACIONES 2006
Rivas Vaciamadrid 22, 23 y 24 de junio.
La situación actual del pueblo saharaui: viernes 23 de junio,17,30.
Programme

21.06.06, Basilea, Suiza: Encuentro/debate con Salek Baba Hassena, Ministro para la Cooperacion internacional de la RASD, S.G. Sementeira, 19h30. Org: Asociación Amigos del Pueblo Saharaui Basel/Suiza

01.07.06
La Asociación de Leganés con el Pueblo Saharaui de Leganés y Jóvenes de Izquierda Unida de Leganés organizan un
FESTIVAL SOLIDARIO CON EL PUEBLO SAHARAUI.

19, 20 y 21.07.06
Curso de verano organizado por la Universidad Autónoma de Madrid:
Los saharauis y nosotros: un desafío pendiente y urgente.
Información y matrícula:
actividades.culturales@uam.es

INTERNET

NEW PUBLICATIONS
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Castellano

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Italiano

Attualità in italiano: El Ouali Bologna + Radio for Peace

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