WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 33-34 : 30.07.-12.08.2006

original french

 

SADR

15-21.07.06, Nicaragua
A Saharawi Government delegation took part in the third International Meeting on direct democracy, coinciding with the 27th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution. The Meeting adopted a resolution demanding the admission of SADR to the United Nations.

27-31.07.06, Panama
The ambassador of Panama with the Organisation of American States, ex-President Aristides Royo, described the Saharawi people as "a heroic people and a friend", during a video conference on the occasion of the XXVth anniversary of the disappearance of General Omar Torrijos. Important political figures from Latin America and the USA, as well as the Saharawi Minister for Education, Bachir Moustapha Sayed took part in this videoconference and in the ceremony in honour of the disappeared general. The Saharawi delegation was received by members of the Panamanian government and parliament, where a parliamentary friendship group with the Saharawi people is soon to be formed. [SPS]

30.07.06, Morocco, throne day
Mohammed VI welcomed the "favourable reception" reserved for the Moroccan proposal of "autonomous status" for Western Sahara by "countries and bodies having an influential role within the international community".
In reaction, the Saharawi government described the autonomy proposal as a "colonial manoeuvre", and "mystification". It pointed out the paradoxical attitude of the Moroccan government, which calls in other places for the respect of international law, while it " violates this very law in Western Sahara". [
SPS]

31.07.06, Mauritania
The President of the Republic, Mohamed Abdelaziz, received a delegation from the Mauritanian party, Democratic Renewal, led by its Vice-President, Ghassem Ould Bellali, former mayor of Nouadhibou. This party was created after the coup d'état in August 2005. [SPS]

31.07.06, Lebanon
The Saharawi government condemned the massacre carried out by Israël on the village of Qana and called on "the international community to put an end to the attacks against the two brother peoples: Lebanese and Palestinian". [SPS]

05.08.06, humanitarian crisis
The President of the Saharawi Red Crescent, Yahia Bouhoubeini, pointed out in an interview with the Arabic language weekly, Sahara Libre, "the drastic reduction" of 43% of humanitarian assistance from the UNHCR and WFP for the Saharawi refugees, following "pressure exerted by Morocco and its allies" on donor countries. [
SPS]

09.08.06, Mauritania
The President of the Republic, Mohamed Abdelaziz, received a delegation from the Mauritanian party, Union of the Forces of Progress (UFP) led by the first deputy of its Secretary General Mohamed Moustapha Ould Bedreddine. "Our two peoples are linked by a secular past in resistance against colonialism and a common future in the fight for progress, democracy and well-being", Mr Bedredine said, adding that "the independence of SADR constitutes a necessary condition for independence of Mauritania". [SPS]

11.08.06, South Africa
A delegation from the African National Congress (ANC), led by its secretary general, Kgalema Mothlante, is on an official visit of SADR.

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO

July 2006, Testimonies
Visit to the occupied territories of Western Sahara by a mission from ASPA (Andalucian Association for Solidarity and Peace. [
Spanish]

See also the interview with Nicola Quatrano, Italian magistrate member of the Antigone Association for the Defence of Rights of Detainees, who went to El Ayoun and Smara to attend trials of Saharawi activists last April. [English by SPS]

26.07.06, Testimony
The Association des Amis de la RASD ( Association of Friends of SADR) organised a press conference on the return of a French delegation, which went to the occupied territories and was able to speak with Saharawi human rights activists, whose courage and determination it emphasised. [
Communiqué de l'Association des Amis de la RASD, 27.07.06]

Four European lawyers, mandated by Droits-Solidarité (Solidarity-Rights) and the Association internationale des juristes démocrates, (International Association of Democrat Lawyers) attended as observers the appeal hearing of the three Saharawi activists Brahim Sabbar, Haddi and Saleh Sid Mohamed Mahmoud on 20 July in El Ayoun. Mrs France Weyl noted "numerous infractions of penal arrangements and procedure describing a hearing room "full of plain clothes policemen". Mrs Weyl pointed out that the Saharawi accused had refused to sign the police statements extorted under torture. The lawyer from the Court of Paris added that "the six lawyers of the Saharawi accused undergo daily administrative harrassment and police repression". According to her, the Saharawi defendants were "accused of common law acts while they were arrested for a offense of opinion". "The Moroccan magistrates did everything to stifle the political aspect of this trial", she added, underlining the urgency "of better media coverage of the Saharawi resistance movement and better defences for their legal protection". [SPS French]

27.07.06, Impediment to freedom of movement
The Saharawi human rights activist, Ali Salem Tamek and the former disappeared Yahya Mohamed Elhafed were prevented from entering Western Sahara coming from Goulimine (Southern Morocco). [SCSCanarias, SPS]

The Collective of Saharawi Human Rights Defenders in Western Sahara, the Union of Saharawi Journalists and Writers (UPES) and the Dakhla Committee against Torture as well as the family of Ali Salem Tamek denounced this prohibition. [SPS]

31.07.06, hunger strike
The Saharawi political prisoner, Leseiri Salek has been on hunger strike since 26 July in the prison of  Kenitra (Morocco). His family put out a statement asking for the intervention of Moroccan and international human rights organisations. Their son was transferred to the prison of Aït Melloul, at the same time as Ameidane Saleh because of their demands in favour of self-determination for Western Sahara.  [SPS]

INTIFADA
[more details on
arso, SPS, ASVDH , en arabe sur Cahiers du Sahara, UPES ]
Since the end of July independence demonstrations continue almost daily and repression of them does not diminish.

Foum ElOued, the beach of El Ayoun, where many Saharawi families spend their holidays, has become the theatre of numerous demonstrations by young people, applauded by the holiday-makers. Each time the police forces intervene brutally, taking people in for questioning and beatings and expel the holiday-makers from their camps. The police dress in plain clothes in order not to be picked out or photographed.

In El Ayoun itself, demonstrations took place on the nights of 2-3 and 5-6 August. The families of political prisoners gathered on 7 August outside the Black Prison to demand respect for the rights of the detainees. On 9 August a brutal police intervention made several injured people and destroyed houses.

In Boujdour, leaflets were distributed and flags strung up in the night of 5-6 August. Demonstrations have also been reported in the south of Morocco, in Mhamid ElGhizlan and in Assa, where three young Saharawis, Bouregaa Haiba, Bahia Mohamed and Boulaila Rachid, were questioned and denounced to the prosecutor after an imaginary dispute with Moroccans and despite the withdrawal of the complaint lodged by the latter. (SCSCanarias) On the other hand the former political prisoner and president of the local branch of the Sssociation of victims of HR violations by Morocco, Tahlil Mohamed. was denied to get a passport.

05/06.08.06, Smara
More serious incidents took place in Smara, following the "disappearance" of a Saharawi citizen, Hossein ould Emnaissir, persecuted and interrogated on several occasions by police over past years. Summoned on 5 August by a Moroccan police man, he was taken blindfold in a police car, where he was violently beaten. Taken to El Ayoun, Hossein was threatened with being burnt alive with petrol or being buried alive. He was tortured until he lost consciousness.
Parents, accompanied by Saharawi citizens, immediately gathered outside the seat of the provincial government to demand clarification. The gathering was brutally dispersed. One of the wounded was the former political prisoner
Loud Otmani / Alotmani El-loud and several notables present at the scene: Salama Ali Elwali, president of the Provincial Council, Mohamed Fadli, a sheikh who took part in the UN identification process of Saharawi voters and Fatma Lehbib Saida, a member of CORCAS, who received blows. Mohamed Hnini was arrested. Following these protests, Hossein Emnaissir was freed. Two days later, nearly a hundred large Saharawi flags were hung from electricity poles and wires. Police patrols intensified their presence in the town to terrorise passers-by and to prevent new demonstrations. [SPS] Nevertheless ademonstration took place on 10 of August in the souk area (market) followed by several arrestations.

Unfair trials
Arrested on 25 July in El Ayoun, a Saharawi citizen, Loumadi Said was interrogated and tortured before being transferred to Tan Tan, southern Morocco where he was sentenced on 27 July to one and a half years in prison and a fine of 5000 dhs, on false accusations (drug trafficking). Loumadi was imprisoned in Inzegane, Morocco. He had already been arrested on 17 May for taking part in independence demonstrations.

Appearance in court on 9 August before the Court of First Instance in El Ayoun of the political prisoner, Laaroussi Choubida, arrested on 17.03.06 in Dakhla and transferred to the Black Prison under false accusations based on a fabricated police statement.  Choubida declared before the court that he had renounced his Moroccan nationality and believed in the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people. He rejected the accusations formulated against him, the reason for his arrest being, according to him, that he had taken part in peaceful demonstrations calling for the departure of Morocco from Western Sahara. The trial was postponed until 6 September 2006.[more]

Sign the Petition for the Saharawi Political Prisoners launched by the Sahrawi Association of Victims of Grave Human Rights Violations Committed by the Moroccan State.

NATURAL RESOURCES

The Oceanic Explorer (IMO number 8916152), travelling from El Ayoun, transporting phosphates arrived on 22 July in New Orleans USA (Agent name: K & C Shipping Operator: Perlas Chartering Corp., Owner: Ross Bulk II KS, Buyer of phosphates: PCS Nitrogen). [record of vessels]

The bulk carrier, Jag Rahul (IMO 9254484) [see p. 95] arrived at Geelong (Australia) on the 18/05/06 from Laayoune via Portland to discharge 35,000 mt of phosphate rock under charter to Star Shipping.

The bulk carrier, Santa Isabella. (IMO 9316816). [more p. 90] Panamanian flag. Owner: Forever Shipping, Panama. Operator: R Oetker (Hamburg-Sud). Managers: Misuga Kaiun, Japan. Charterers: Furness Withy (Aust). Arrived at Portland (Australia) from Laayoune with phosphate 13-15.6.06 before going onto Geelong to complete discharge.

REFERENDUM

30.07.06, interview
Questioned by Jeune Afrique about Western Sahara, François Hollande, First secretary of the French Socialist Party, replied that "this affair must not poison our relations with the countries of the Maghreb any more. It should therefore be treated both within the UN framework and at the same time in negotiations between the affected parties: Morocco, Algeria and the Polisario. France should not be an element in the debate on the Sahara. It must not be partial; just express the rules of international law and the necessity of finding a negotiated settlement, capable of being ratified by the UN. We must reaffirm our principles : negotiation, consultation of the populations concerned, that is to say the referendum and return to the UN. I have of course noted that Morocco has formulated a proposal, that of wide autonomy for the territory &endash; a proposal rejected by the Polisario and by Algeria, but it is still fitting to study it."

HUMAN RIGHTS

01.08.06, award
The human rights prize of the Institute of Human Rights of the International Bar Association (IBA) has been awarded to the Spanish lawyer Inés Miranda Navarro, for her work in Western Sahara. This prize of international renown, awarded by an NGO which numbers over 160,000 lawyers as members, will be given in September during the IBA Congress in Chicago. Mrs Miranda coordinated and directed over recent years several observation missions during the trials of human rights defenders and political detainees in Western Sahara.

SOLIDARITY

05.08.06, Algéciras. Demonstration of solidarity with the Saharawi people brought together nearly 2000 people.

03-27.08.06, Leon, "Una mirada al pueblo Saharaui". En la sala de exposiciones de Caja España, ubicada en la casa de las carnicerias, con direccion Plaza de San Martin 1, exposicion de fotografias de Cesar Sanz, acompañada de un libro con mas de 100 fotos y prologo de Lucia Echevarria.

COMING UP...

The President of the Spanish government, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, will meet the King of Morocco on 5 September in Rabat.

Publication in September 2006 by Editions Fayard, Paris, of a book by Mahmoud Tobji, "Les Officiers de Sa Majesté". The work contains important revelations of a FAR officer who took part in the war in Western Sahara and who was, until he was arrested, head of the aides de camp of Dlimi.

02-17.09.06, Perpignan, exhibition of photographs by Patricio Pardo: SAHARA-SAHARAHUI, as part of the 18th International Festival of Photojournalism.

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