WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 25-26 : 18.06.-01.07.2006

original french

 

SADR

12.06.06, South Africa
A Saharawi delegation, consisting of Saleh Abeid, member of the Panafrican Parliament, and Malainin Lakhal, secretary general of the Union of Saharawi Writers and Journalists, participated in a ceremony commemorating the 30th anniversary of the massacre in Soweto organised by the ANC Youth in the Olympic stadium in Durban in the presence of 50,000 people. The Saharawi delegation was the only foreign delegation to give a speech.[
Text of the speech pronounced by Malainin Lakhal]. The delegation met various South African officials during its stay. [SPS]

20.06.06, African Union
The Saharawi Ambassador with the African Union (AU), Lehbib Breika, signed in Addis-Ababa a treaty making Africa a zone free of nuclear arms (Treaty of Pelindaba), the Protocol of the African Charter of Human Rights and Rights of Peoples relating to the rights of women and the Convention of the African Energy Commission. SADR has thus signed eleven treaties and conventions of 31 texts of the African Union including six which have been ratified by the Parliament.

21.06.06, Cap Verde
Mhamed Khaddad, Saharawi coordinator with MINURSO, was received in Praia by Cap Verde's President, Pedro Pires.

21.06.06, Mauritania
Khalil Sidi Mohamed, Minister of the occupied territories and Saharawi communities abroad, was received in Nouakchott by the President of the Military Council for Democracy and Justice, Ely Ould Mohamed Fall.

26-28.06.06, I. Salón Internacional de la Cooperación, Tenerife
SADR took part with a stand in this first Salon of Cooperation, opened by the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Canary Islands officials.

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO

While Morocco is elected as a member and Vice-President of the UN Council of Human Rights in Geneva, repression has suddenly worsened in occupied Western Sahara, where demonstrations keep going on. Thus the anniversary of the demonstrations of Zemla/El Ayoun and the disappearance of Sid Brahim Bassiri, on 17 June 1970, was celebrated in the territories by gatherings, leafleting, hanging up of flags etc.

Arrests have multiplied. On 16 June, the former Saharawi political detainee Taoubali Elhafed, as well as Hmoudi Hammad, Elgasmi Lahbib [Garhi Mohamed Lehbib] and Ahmeidat Mohamed Salem [Hmaidat Ahmed Salem] were arrested, tortured, interrogated, found guilty and incarcerated in the Black Prison, where Deddi Hmada and Ahmed El Moussaoui continue their hunger strike, as no measure has been taken to improve their conditions of detention. On 17, it's the turn of Sabbar Brahim, (secretary general of the Saharawi Association of victims of serious violations of human rights by the Moroccan state (ASVDH), of Haddi Sid Mohamed Mahmoud, nicknamed ElKainan, former prisoner and his brother Saleh and of Sbai Ahmed (member of the executive of the Association ASVDH and member of the Committee for the Protection of Detainees in the Black Prison), arrested at the gates of El Ayoun while returning from Boujdour, where a branch of ASVDH had just been founded. This association is still not recognised by the authorities. The four are accused of constituting a criminal band, incitating and participating in violence, destruction of public property and putting obstructions on the public highway, attacks on state officials, of participation in armed groups and belonging to a non-authorised association. Furthermore, El Kainan and his brother, Saleh as well as Sabbar Brahim are accused of having attacked a policeman. Ahmed Sbai, who is suffering from a chronic cardiac condition, was hospitalised on 24 June. All are imprisoned with common law prisoners and their demand for transfer is rejected.

A new demonstration of young Saharawis in cars carrying SADR flags takes place on 19 on Place du Giratoire. On Avenue Smara two former political detainees, Targui Maelainin and Yaya Bachir are arrested, the latter is tortured for several hours and finally abandoned on the outskirts of the town. El Ayoun Plage (Foum elOued) is also the theatre of demonstrations and arrests. A battalion of auxiliary forces as well as a company of gendarmes were deployed in order to prevent any demonstration during the summer holidays. In Smara on 21 June a young Saharawi, Saaid Mohamed Baha, was arrested for several hours before being liberated after a sit-in of several dozen citizens outside the police station. The same day arrest of two former political detainees in El Ayoun, Mahmud Mustafa Haddad and Mohamed Bahia Rachidi and a demonstration of students in Assa and Boujdour. By way of reprisal, candidates for the end of year exams were refused or given bad marks, likewise for students in the College Omar ben Khatab, which provoked new demonstrations by their families. Two people were arrested following these demonstrations as well as the president of the local committee of ASVDH, the former political prisoner, Tahlil Mohamed and Ahmed Lehmeid Hamya.

In Assa (southern Morocco), members of the auxiliary forces set upon young Saharawis brutally for having participated in independence demonstrations.

20.06.06
"The extreme gravity of the situation in the Saharawi occupied territories and the precarious situation in which the Saharawi human rights activists find themselves" led the President of the Republic, Mohamed Abdelaziz to write to the UN SG, Kofi Annan, to ask him to intervene urgently to liberate all Saharawi political prisoners. [
full text]
The OMCT protested at the arrests [
Appel, Cas MAR 230606] , while the Observatoire Pour la Protection des Défenseurs des Droits de l'Homme launched an urgent appeal to denounce the arbitrary detention of Brahim Sabbar and Ahmed Sbai. [APPEL URGENT - L'OBSERVATOIRE. MAR 002 / 0606 / OBS 079, 23 juin 2006]
L'
Acat-France a fait de même., l'AFASPA a interpellé l'UE [SPS] and Aminatou Haidar, from South Africa, where she is on a visit, sent a letter to the President of the European Parliament. [26.06.06].

25.06.06, El Ayoun
Demonstration in the Maatallah district and arrest, interrogation and bad treatment for Foukraoui Sidi Taleb Ahmed and Garhi Fatah. Foukraoui [Fakraoui] was thrown off a building on
12 June 2005 which caused spinal fractures.

27.06.06, Heavy sentences
Sabbar Brahim is sentenced to 2 years in prison,Haddi Sidi Mohamed Mahmoud (Elkainan), to 3 years and his brother Saleh is given a 1 year suspended sentence. Khaya Elbachir, who was present at the session, was arrested as he left the court. He was the victim on 13 October 2005 of bad treatment in Boujdour and had lodged a complaint. Afrik Mohamed ould Brahim ould Mouloud, son of a disappeared Saharawi and brother of two disappeared, member of the Committee of families of Saharawi disappeared, telephoned his relatives on 26 June. He has been detained  for 11 days at an unknown location. [
ASVDH update, 27.06.06]
The Saharawi Committee for Self-Determination of Western Sahara, chaired by Sidi Mohamed Daddach [
French] - [Arabic] , the Dakhla Committee against Torture, the Saharawi Association for Victims of Serious Violations of Human Rights committed by the Moroccan State (ASVDH), the local committee of Boujdour of ASVDH denounced these heavy sentences.
The President of the Saharawi Republic called on the UN SG, Kofi Annan, to demand their "release and setting up of a mechanism whereby the UN would become responsible for protecting Saharawi civilians and preserving their fundamental freedoms". He would make the same appeal once again on 26 June concerning the 15 Saharawis disappeared since 25 December last "in obscure circumstances". [
SPS]

19.06.06, Inzegane Prison (Agadir, Morocco)
Attempt to assassinate a Saharawi prisoner of opinion, Lahmam Salama Brahim Mouloud, stabbed in the neck by a dagger, the wound was inflicted by a Moroccan common law detainee. Thanks to pressure from other Saharawi detainees, Lahmam was hospitalised subsequently in Agadir, from whence he appealed for the protection of Saharawis against "serious violations of human rights perpetrated by the Moroccan state in the occupied territories of Western Sahara and southern Morocco". His state of health remains critical.

29.06.06, Agadir (Morocco)
The penal tribunal session planned for five Saharawi political prisoners, Naji/Najia ElBachir, ElKhorchi Waissi, ElMansouri Idris, Tamek Mohamed, Kayout Brahim, all arrested on 15 April in Assa, is postponed until 13 July.

29.06.06, new campaign of répression
New campaign of repression and arrests in all the occupied towns of Western Sahara: in El Ayoun dozens of arrests are reported, and seven dwellings ransacked, in addition threats of withholding pay or dismissal of the parents, if their children continue to demonstrate. In Smara, where a demonstration started on 29 June, the authorities encourage the denunciation of persons giving refuge to demonstrators or allowing the demonstrations to be photographed from their roofs. In Dakhla, the authorities forbad internet users from using messenger or paltalk, and night patrols prevent demonstrations and decoration of streets with Saharawi flags.

18.-29.06.06.06, Visit of Aminatou Haidar to South Africa
The Saharawi activist travelled to South Africa to raise awareness about the Moroccan abuses of human rights in the occupied territories of Western Sahara.

In Pretoria, in the course of a dinner in honour of the human rights activist, the Director of the North African Department within Foreign Affairs, Delarey Van Tonder, declared that it "is impossible to speak of development in Africa while one of its states is subject to colonization".  Aminatou Haidar was received by the Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs Sue van der Merwe and by the officer responsible for international policy on the African National Congress (ANC), Mrs Mavivi Myakayaka-Manzini, who affirmed the total commitment of her party "to defend its position of principle in favour of the right of the Saharawi people for liberation and independence".

Numerous meetings and talks
21.06.06, : Aminatou Haidar had talks with three South African high court judges in the Constitutional Court. The judges, T.H. Madala, Bess Nkabinde and Ngcobo Sandile expressed their profound concern for the precarious situation of human rights in the occupied territories of Western Sahara, and asked Mrs Haidar to remain in contact with their Court, which "will henceforth remain seized by the subject and will follow developments closely", Judge T.H. Madala emphasised.

The Saharawi activist was received the same evening in Capetown by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mrs Dlamini Zuma, who reaffirmed the "position of principle of her country in favour of the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and independence, but also the determination of South Africa to undertake any measure or make any effort necessary to put an end to this problem" of incomplete decolonization.

23.06.06: In Pretoria, the Saharawi activist animates a conference, organised by the South African Institute for Africa (AISA) and the Institute for Global Dialogue (IGD), on the human rights situation in the occupied territories of Western Sahara. About thirty researchers, university teachers, and members of the diplomatic corps in South Africa attended the conference which was opened by Mrs Chaela Bunwaree, President of AISA's department of research.

She was then received by the South African deputy minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Aziz Pahad and had talks with the President of the South African Committee for Human Rights, Mr Narandan Jody Kollapen, in the presence of the Executive Director, Tseliso Thipanyane, and high ranking South African officials.

25.06.06: Aminatou Haidar met on Sunday in his residence in Capetown, the President of the Anglican churches and Archbishop of Capetown, the Reverend Njongonkulu W.H. Ndungane. She then visited the former prison on Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.

27-28.06.06: The secretary general of the South African Communist Party, Dr. Blade Nzimande, affirmed, in welcoming the Saharawi activist, that the support of his party for "your legitimate struggle for independence is unconditional".
The next day, it is the secretary general of the African National Congress, Kgalema Motlanthe, who said, in receiving Aminatou, that the struggle of the Saharawi people "for freedom is our own and we owe you complete support".
The Saharawi activist then signed in the Hector Petersen museum in Soweto (Johannesburg), a symbolic twinning between the South African district and the Saharawi district of Maatallah, both symbols of resistance and peaceful struggle against oppression and colonialism in two African countries. [-->
quelques photos - some pictures - algunas fotos]

NATURAL RESOURCES

18.06.06, Telecommunications
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has refused the recourse of Morocco to establish stations of communications per radio on the ground of the Western Sahara, basing itself on the fact that the Western Sahara is a land which does not have sovereignty and which the United Nations did not resolve this case. The Legal magistrate of the Union considers that the fact of establishing stations of audio communications in the Western Sahara and to put a symbol of its membership in Morocco is an unacceptable thing, it has expressed this position at the time of a regional conference of telecommunications by radio, who was held the 15 of the month in progress in Geneva.

23.06.06, oil
Kosmos Energy, a company based in Dallas, USA, bought an exploration licence for the Boujdour region, covering an area of 44,000 km2. [
Upstream]

24.06.06, oil
The President of SADR, Mohamed Abdelaziz received in the Presidency Malcolm Groom, the Director of the British oil company, Comet Oil. Comet oil signed, with seven other oil companies, in March 2006 in London, an agreement of cooperation with SADR and opted for the offshore block named "Guelta".[SPS]

REFERENDUM

19.06.06, European Union
Replying to four questions from Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), Iratxe García Pérez (PSE), Karin Scheele (PSE), Antonio Masip Hidalgo (PSE) and Willy Meyer Pleite (GUE/NGL) concerning the fate of Saharawi activists imprisoned in Western Sahara, the Commission declares being aware of the facts. It stresses that it has asked explanations from the Moroccan government, but considers that Morocco is making progress in the respect of human rights (!!). The Commission will follow closely the development of respect for human rights by all parties involved in the conflict.

21.06.06, Spain
The Foreign Affairs Committee of the Congress rejected the proposal of recognising SADR, presednted by the ERC group (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya ), which caused a break in the usual consensus of parliamentary groups on the conflict in the Sahara. The PSOE, the PP and the CiU oppose the proposal.

22.06.06, Madrid
The regional parliament of the autonomous community of Madrid unanimously condemns the repression exercised by Morocco against the Saharawi people, by accepting a proposal from the IU supported by the PSOE and the PP, which also expresses its support for the right to self-determination.

22.06.06, ONU
A journalist asked the UN Secretary General, during a press conference in Geneva, what he counted on doing to relaunch the confidence-building measures, and if Mr Peter van Walsum would constantly visit the region. Kofi Annan replied about his special representative that, "I do not think he is planning to visit the region right now, but he will go when it is necessary. " he added "I hope family visits can resume." Concerning Algeria, Annan declared that this country " has a clear position -- it says it is not involved in the war, it is not a party to the conflict; it is a neighbour, it is ready to help and discuss things, but people must accept that it is a neighbouring country and not try too hard to get it involved in this business.  But we are watching the issue closely.  The matter is before the Security Council and I hope we will be able to nudge the parties concerned forward a little.." [
UN]

24.06.06, Modena, Italy
The Communal Council of Modena (Emilia Romagna) called on the Italian government to recognise SADR and to begin concrete diplomatic and political moves with the European Union for the recognition of this country. [SPS]

25.06.06-02.07.06, 7th Summit of the African Union, Banjule, Gambia
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, heading a Saharawi delegation, took part in the meeting of the Executive Council (Council of Ministers), which was held two days before the annual summit of Heads of State and Governments, due on 1-2 July. The President of SADR, Mohamed Abdelaziz, arrived on 30 June in Banjule.
The question of Western Sahara was treated in a report of the African Commission presented to the executive Council by its president, Alpha Oumar Konaré. The report underlines that the situation in which the peace process for Western Sahara finds itself "merits the greatest attention on the part of the international community, which should act as a matter of urgency to permit the people of Western Sahara to exercise their right to self-determination, and this, in conformity with international law and the relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council." The report emphasises that the AU remains "preoccupied" by the persistent impasse in which the peace process finds itself, "which causes more and more frustration to the people of Western Sahara".
The representative of Senegal, with the support of Gabon and Burkina Faso, tried to question part of the report. The majority of ministers (20 to 3) pronounced themselves in favour of supporting the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people. [SPS]

30.06.06, Kofi Annan
The UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, met Driss Jettou, the Moroccan Prime Minister  in Casablanca to discuss the conflict in Western Sahara.

MOROCCO

25.06.06, Conference
The representative of the Polisario Front in Europe, Mohamed Sidati, took part beside representatives of Moroccan Marxist-Leninist movements, Ilal Amam and Ennahj Eddimocrati, the Democratic Way, at a conference organised by the Union of Young Arab Progressives of Belgium. For Mr Menebhi, co-founder of Ilal Amam, "the struggle of the Saharawi and the Moroccan peoples is a joint struggle. It is directed against the Makhzen regime which continues to thrive", a regime which constitutes, he said, an "obstacle to the building of a Maghreb of peoples including the people of SADR".

26.06.06, United Nations day against torture
The Moroccan branch of Amnesty International emphasised in a press conference on the occasion of the UN day against torture, having got the head of the Government "to sign the voluntary protocol to the convention against torture", which permits NGOs to visit detention centres. Moroccan human rights NGOs consider from their side, that the practice of torture in Morocco, "has taken on alarming proportions in the course of recent months". The Moroccan organisation for human rights (AMDH) quoted several cases of torture and death in police stations and gendarmerie stations to "extort confessions by force". "Several people have died under torture during these last months, notably Hamdi Lembarki in El Ayoun (Western Sahara), Larbi Souabni in Mohammadia, Adil Zayati and Abdelghafour Haddad in Salé (near Rabat)'', this NGO claimed.

HUMAN RIGHTS

22.06.06, Denial
AMDH President, Abdelhamid Amine, denied the words attributed to him by MAP, the official Moroccan  press agent, about events in Tindouf. He declares that AMDH denounces all abuses perpetrated either by the Moroccan side or by the Polisario, and demands the UNHCR to send a delegation to inquire in an objective fashion on what happened.

HUMANITARIAN AID

19.06.06, Refugee Day
"I would like to launch an appeal, particularly to countries and International fund holders, to increase aid to the Saharawi refugees". The UNHCR representative in Algeria, Mr Peter Van Der Vaart, said in an interview with APS.
"The UNHCR has a program of basic aid for the Saharawi refugees covering several sectors, and amounting to about US$ 2 million annually, he pointed out, regretting that his body "does not manage to finance it completely". Concerning food aid, Mr Van der Vaart revealed that the UNHCR is envisaging putting in place, jointly with the WFP, from now until the end of the year, "an action plan for a quality diet, particularly for children and women", in the aim of preventing problems linked to malnutrition. He added that the UNHCR is also envisaging giving Saharawi children educational items for the school year 2006-2007.

SOLIDARITY

Australia
Monday 29 May, Kamal Fadel, the Polisario Front representative to Australia, spoke at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney on The Role of the UN in Decolonisation: a Comparison Between Western Sahara and East Timor.

On Thursday 1 June, in Melbourne the United Nations Association of Australia held a meeting entitled: "Involving the UN in global justice: the case of Western Sahara". Sue Humphries, Vice-President of the Australia-Western Sahara Association presented a paper "Involving the UN in global justice: the case of Western Sahara". She said: "Humanity and justice demand that this small people is accorded its rights.
It's a matter of principle.  Its resolution would indicate an effectively functioning UN, a world order willing to abide by the rules.
It would be good for the people of Morocco.  It would indicate a change from a brutally repressive regime to humane democracy.  It offers dignity."

For more information see Australian Western Sahara Association website

COMING UP...

INTERNET

OBITUARY

François Beslay (1921-02.06.06)
In November 1943, he took the command of a nomad group from Chinguetti to Fort Tinquet. He pursues his mission in the zones covered by the Reguibats, around Rio de Oro and Saguiet el Hamra, assuring the commandment of the district of Bir Moghrein from 1945 to 1947. In 1956, he joins staff headquarters at Saint-Louis in Senegal within which he played an essential role during the operation "Ecouvillon" which allows the attempt to destabilise the Moroccan borders to be neutralised, from Rio de Oro and from Mauritania by the Army of Liberation of the South. He is back in Mauritania in 1959 beside President Mokhtar Ould Daddah. He sets up the young Mauritanian army of which he is the head of staff. He consigns to paper his experiences over some thirteen years which he shared with the populations of Mauritania in the work "The Reguibats, French peace to the Polisario Front", published in 1984 by editions Harmattan. (according to Soumbala)

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