WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 39-40 : 24.09.-07.10.2006

original french

SADR

21.09.06, Venezuela
The president of the Saharawi parliament, Mahfoud Ali Beiba, spoke to a group of parliamentarians from the Latin American Parliament  in Caracas.

21-28.09.06, UK
Zahra Ramdane, International Relations officer for the Union of Saharawi Women, took part in the annual conference of Plaid Cymru (Welsh national party) in Swansea, Wales and in the annual conference of the Labour Party in Manchester from 24 to 28 September.

25.09.06, Declaration
“The autonomy proposal is just a manoeuvre aimed at stopping the Saharawi people from exercising their right to self-determination, that is why we reject this initiative en bloc”, the Saharawi president, Mohamed Abdelaziz affirmed in an interview with the Egyptian daily,  Al Ahram. He indicated that the United States remains attached to the Baker Plan and that, if France was not favouring the Moroccan party, the Saharawi question would be solved. [SPS] [in Arabic]

21-22.09.06, AU
The Saharawi Minister for Public Health, Boullahi Sid, took part in Maputo in a special meeting of ministers of health from the African Union devoted to “Universal Access to comprehensive sexual reproductive health services in Africa”.  [Maputo Plan of Action]

30.09.06, Urgent Appeal
The security stock of basic foodstuffs in the Saharawi refugee camps will run out at the end of October, the Saharawi Red Crescent (CRS) warned.
To cover food needs until the end of 2006, the CRS needs 7.700 tonnes of basic foodstuffs. The CRS affirmed that the principal cause of this situation comes back to the fact that the UNHCR and WFP are not honouring their undertakings following pressure from Morocco.  [Appel .doc

02.10. 06, Declarations
During a press conference in Algiers, the Minister Counselor to the Presidency, responsible for Europe, Mohamed Sidati, declared that “the Polisario Front refused to negotiate with Morocco on anything other than the ways of implementing the agreements already reached”. He declared that France would like to mention in the next Security Council resolution an appeal to new direct negotiations. They are “seeking to make the settlement process for the conflict on Western Sahara deviate from its natural framework, which is decolonisation”, he pointed out. Concerning the European Union, the minister declared that France and Spain stop it from playing its role. Speaking of France, he said that whoever is the next president, “the situation cannot be worse than it is today”.

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO

Independence demonstrations continue in El-Ayoun. Over forty young Saharawis of both sexes were arrested between 24 and 27 September. Other demonstrations were organised in solidarity with the Saharawi prisoners on hunger strike. A child of 12 years, El-Ayachi Sid Ahmed, is questioned after a demonstration outside Bir Anzaran school.

Police forces carry out research on Saharawi demonstrators and activists.
In Dakhla, two people were arrested on 27.09.06 for having hung up SADR flags in the Oum Tounsi quarter, later closed off by the police. In El Ayoun five people are arrested in the night of 28.09.06, in the Maatallah quarter, by plain clothes police. Some were being arrested for the second time, taken out of the town and abandoned after having been mistreated. A pupil was questioned in Smara the same day. On 2.10.06, it’s the turn of the former political detainee,  Andour Lahoucine.

06.10.06, El-Ayoun
The Saharawi lawyer and human rights defender, Asfari Naama, resident in France, was arrested at the entrance to the town of El Ayoun. He was on a visit to his home country in the company of two people of French or Bulgarian nationality according to sources, who were also arrested.
Asfari Naama had been questioned before in Tan-Tan on 20 August 2005 and subjected to a long interrogation. [Note French]

Hunger Strike
The state of health of the hunger strikers is getting worse in El Ayoun prison as well as in the Moroccan prisons of Inzegane and Aït Melloul. More and more are being hospitalised. The authorities and the doctors apply pressure to stop the action but are having no success. Loumadi Said, sent back to hospital on 26 September, continues his strike which started on 7 August. Brahim Sabbar, Ahmed Sbai and others on hunger strike since 4 September, refuse to eat so long as their demands are not taken into account. Some of the hunger strikers interrupted their action, for reasons of health, on 1 October. However, they started a 48 hour hunger strike of solidarity with Sabbar and Sbai on 6 October.
[reports and news]  [ASVDH]

Appeals
The cell monitoring the state of health of Saharawi political detainees on hunger strike, composed of the ASVDH, (the Saharawi Association for Victims of Serious Violations of Human Rights committed by the Moroccan State) and the Committee for Self-determination in Western Sahara (coordinator, Sidi Mohamed Dadach), on 22 September put out a distress call to “save the lives of 29 Saharawi political prisoners on hunger strike”. The next day, it launched an Urgent Appeal to save the life of Loumadi Said, which  28 of the co-detainees joined.
Appeals were also made by members of the families of the strikers.

Brahim Sabbar and Ahmed Sbai, respectively SG of ASVDH and vice-president of the Committee for the Protection of Saharawi political prisoners, appealed on 30 September to international human rights organisations to put an end to the human rights abuses perpetrated by Morocco in Western Sahara and to call for respect of their rights as political prisoners.

26.09.06, Morocco
The Moroccan Association for Human Rights, AMDH expressed its “very deep concern” about the deterioration of the state of health of the hunger strikers and called upon the authorities to “open an dialogue with the Saharawi political detainees about their demands”.  [SPS]

Spain
24-hour hunger strikes in solidarity with the hunger strikers took place in Madrid, Bilbao and Vitoria. [photos]
Courts
26.09.06, Appeal Court of Agadir
Two Saharawi political detainees, Bougaraa Omar and Banga Cheikh, still minors, were set free by the Court of Appeal in Agadir.

27.09.06, Appeal Court of El-Ayoun
A Saharawi political detainee, Choubeida Laaroussi appeared before the Appeal court of El Ayoun for the third time. His trial was postponed until 11 October.

03.10.06, Inezgane
A Saharawi political detainee, Lafkir Lahcen, seriously weakened by being on hunger strike, appeared before the instructing magistrate.

Other news
16.09.06, threats
The Moroccan Arabic language daily Assabah writes that groups of Moroccan citizens and organisations alerted by the international campaign of the Saharawi activist Aminatou Haidar, are preparing legal procedures in order to deprive her of her nationality and to withdraw her passport.

21.09.06, El-Ayoun
A Saharawi former political prisoner, Laroussi Mohamed Ali Bambari, died following torture suffered in Moroccan detention centres. Abducted on 12 November 1993 by the police in Smara, he was transferred to the El Ayoun PC CMI only to emerge two months later, without being sentenced, paralysed following cranial traumatism. Since his release, the deceased, a bachelor, born in 1977, lived in a seroiusly deteriorated physical and psychological state and never recovered.

25.09.06, corruption
The CID national brigade is said to have received the order to inquire into several businessmen installed in occupied Western Sahara. Big names figure on the list. Once before, in 1997, a ship transporting sand coming from the Sahara was intercepted in the Canary Islands, full of drugs.
[Tel quel 241 ]

27.09.06, victims of an anti-tank mine
A young Saharawi Saleh Salouk Lakhdar was mortally wounded by the explosion of an anti-tank mine when his Land Rover drove over it, as he was out with a friend El-Haj Laaichi, on his way to a tent set up in the middle of the desert east of Smara. The victim died in hospital following a haemorrhage. His passenger was also wounded. [Note French] [PHOTOS]

02.10.06, appointments
M'hammed Dryef has been appointed wali (governor) of the region of El Aaiun-Bojador-Saguia El Hamra, governor of the “province” of El-Ayoun. Hamid Charia, governor, is responsible for the secretariat general of the wilaya of El-Ayoun-Bojador-Saguia El Hamra and El-Arbi Mrabet, governor of coordination with MINURSO.

NATURAL RESOURCES

30.09.06, British parliament
Early Day Motion EDM 2188 Jeremy Corbyn , already signed by 74 MPs, calls on the British government to seek an urgent amendment to “exclude the waters of the occupied Western Sahara” from the European Union Moroccan Fishing Agreement. [APS]

01-06.10.06, oil
SADR takes part in the international Salon and the 76th international Conference on oil of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, organised in New Orleans (USA).

REFERENDUM

13.09.06, SG daily Press conference 
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, you wrote a letter to the President of the Security Council at the end of June, asking the Security Council to use the next four months wisely before the mandate of MINURSO in the Western Sahara is going to be renewed. You said that it couldn't - it shouldn't be at a stalemate and that it shouldn't constantly be renewed. I want to know: it hasn't been on the agenda for the past three months. Are you disappointed in that? And do you think anything will happen next month?
SG: I don't know what they are doing with it - you know, they are probably thinking about it; they're probably going to come with a creative solution. And so I can't say I'm disappointed until I know what they are going to do. But I think it is important. I did indicate it shouldn't be business as usual: we should try and be creative. And we've been down this road before. You remember when former Secretary of State Jim Baker was working on this issue. At one point he came with five options for the Council to choose one. We didn't get an answer. And that's why I hope, if they themselves can come up with some ideas as to how they would want to proceed, we may do better this time around. But the time is not up yet; we still have a month or so.
[English text]

61th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
19-27.09.06, general debate
Several governments, through their Prime Minister or foreign affairs minister, spoke on the question of Western Sahara calling for a speedy settlement and the organisation of a referendum of self-determination: the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs,Miguel Angel Moratinos
[engl.] - [esp.]  ,  Président of the Union of the Comores, Ahmed Abdellah Sambi, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Lesotho, Pakalitha Bethuel Mosisili [engl,] , the foreign affairs minister of Niger, Aichatou Mindaoudou [français] , the Algerian Minister of state for foreign affairs, Mohammed Bedjaoui [français] , etc. A Saharawi delegation led by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, followed the proceedings of the General Assembly.[SPS]

61th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Special Political and Decolonization Committee , Fourth Committee
03.10.06, general debate on the implementation of the Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples.
Several representatives of countries of the south, such as Botswana, Uganda, Algeria, Namibia, South Africa, Caribbean Community and others spoke in favour of the right to self-determination for the Saharawi people.

04-06.10.06
The sessions of the 4, 5 and 6 October were devoted in part to the question of Western Sahara. Numerous petitioners spoke including the Polisario Front representative with the UN. Morocco had mobilised, indicator of the growing nervousness at the approach of the debate in the Security Council , a host of speakers intervened.
[ links to UN statements on the special page]

02.10.06, Morocco
In its annual assessment of the situation in Western Sahara, « Annahj Eddimocrati », the Moroccan opposition party, recalls that “violence and repression have become the only means (of the state) to face up to the problems that the region is experiencing”. The Moroccan party, which recalled the demonstrations of Saharawi activists which were violently repressed, massive arrests of activists, violations of their homes, torture and arbitrary sentences during this year, calls for “respect of freedoms in Western Sahara and the setting up of the referendum of self-determination”. [El Moudjahid, 02.10.06]

05.10.06, analysis
Questioned by Le Journal hebdo, Philippe Moreau Defarges, Minister plenipotentiary and researcher with IFRI and co-director of the report Ramses, talked on the question of Western Sahara: “...the Spanish Sahara should become independent even if Morocco considers it has some rights...The International Court of Justice was clear since it said that nobody can affirm to whom Western Sahara belongs and the only means to know is to organise a referendum. It is therefore an absolute imperative and if Morocco wants an international political settlement, it has to go through this stage.”
[Le Journal Hebdo]

MAURITANIA

05.10.06, mines
Germany will contribute to the financing of a third de-mining mission next December, around the locality of Tmeimichatt, in the north of the country [local website]. The mines date from the time of the war which set Mauritania against the Polisario Front. Germany has already paid for two earlier missions.

HUMAN RIGHTS

27.09.06, ONU, Geneva, session of the Council of Human Rights
Aminatou Haidar spoke in the name of the Collective of Saharawi Human Rights Defenders to a panel at the Palace of Nations in Geneva, alongside the session of the Council of Human rights [statement french] . [EFE]
She again spoke before the Council the next day, but could not finish her speech. [intervention]
[video on UN web]
Following her visit to the USA, 23 American parliamentarians indicated to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Rice that the efforts to extend the UN mandate in Western Sahara to respect human rights have been countered by the French government. They demand another discussion with France but also direct intervention by the American authorities with Morocco to make it respect human rights in Western Sahara. [letter
On 7 October in Viareggio (Tuscany) the prize of solidarity given by the jury of the Premio Marenostrum is awarded to Aminatou Haidar in homage to her life and career as a human rights activist in the territories of Western Sahara under Moroccan domination.

02.10.06, Report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Sidati revealed in his press conference in Algiers that pressure had been applied to prevent the release of the report of the mission to Western Sahara and Tindouf/Algeria in May/June this year.
Later the agency Afrol news published a summary in English  and Spanish on 5 October, and Le Monde (France) spoke about on 08.10.06.
[the original text in English is now available on Sahara update]
07.10.06: Morocco rejects the report. " The Moroccan governement does not approve the contents of the report because its biased and openly complacent towards Algeria and Polisario, Moroccan Foreign Minster benaissa wrote in a letter sent to UN HR High Commissioner Louise Arbour. [Agency]


04.10.06, European Union
Morocco refused, at less than 48 hours notice before departure, to receive the European Parliament’s ad hoc delegation for Western Sahara, planned and organised for over a year. Morocco invoked the unbalanced composition of the delegation, of which three members out of five are part of the intergroup “Peace for the Saharawi People”, while the composition was fixed by the political groups of the parliament and had been made known to Morocco from the beginning of the negotiations. The leader of the delegation, Ioannis Kasoulides [PPE-DE, CY], points out in a statement [French] that “the Moroccan authorities persist in considering that they should have a say in the designation of delegation members and explicitly claim “agreement on [its] composition”. It recalls that “the delegation is approaching the problem of the Sahara from a humanitarian and regional perspective in a spirit of impartiality and that if it travelled to Algiers and to the camps near Tindouf in mid-September, it was with the conviction that Morocco would, in its turn, keep its word.”

In a Declaration, European members of parliament, Raül Romeva (Verts/ALE) and  Karin Scheele (PSE), members of the delegation, expressed their “deepest concern that a third party government should intervene in the composition of a delegation from the European Parliament, a serious act which should be taken into consideration in future relations between the European Parliament and the representatives of the Kingdom of Morocco.” [statement French or Spanish]

Local  sources consider that the real motive for the refusal lies in the fear of demonstrations by the Saharawi population in the occupied territories, like the one produced during the visit of the Mission from the High Commission for Human Rights last May.
Other protests :
Parlacen (Central-american Parliament , the president of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left group, ANSPS, National Association of Solidarity with the Saharawi People, Italy..

SOLIDARITY

21-22.09.06, JORNADAS SOBRE LA VIOLACIÓN DE LOS DERECHOS HUMANOS EN EL SÁHARA OCCIDENTAL
L'Associació d'Amics del Poble Sahrauí de les Illes Balears, AAPSIB, con la colaboración de AFAPREDESA, ha organizado unas jornadas sobre derechos humanos en Palma (Mallorca). Los ponentes fueron el Sr. El Wassouli Abdelkrim, miembro de la Voie Démocratique; el Sr. Mohamed Ahmed Laabeid, responsable de relaciones internacionales de AFAPREDESA; el Sr. Abba Salek El Haissan, secretario general de la Unión de Juristas Saharauis y el Sr. Raül Romeva, eurodiputado del grupo Els Verds..

29.09.06- Semana saharaui en México
El 29 de septiembre se inauguraba la semana saharaui en la Casa de Cultura Benemérito de las Américas Benito Juárez, en la delegación de Coyoacán. La semana finalizará el lunes próximo, y en ella destaca, entre otras muestras culturales, una exposición de más de 50 fotos, artesaníaa saharaui,  presentación de documentales y conferencias sobre la historia y la cultura saharaui, además de poder degustar el plato saharaui, cuscus, y beber té.

02.10.06, London
A photographic exhibition on the Saharawi cause and conditions of life for the Saharawi refugees was opened in City Hall, London as part of “Black History Season 2007”. . On this occasion the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, welcomed the initiative of the British foundation Sandblast  which organised the exhibition continuing until 31 October. These photos were taken by Saharawis taking part in the Sora project living in the refugee camps, as well as by three London-based photographers:  Kyna Gourley, Piera Bruzzo and Simon Thorpe.[APS]

COMING UP...

13.10.06 à 18 heures, Conférence-débat sur la situation dans les territoires occupés du Sahara Occidental avec Aminatou Haïdar, défenseure sahraouie des droits humains, à la mairie du 2e arrondissement, 8 rue de la Banque, Paris. Information et contact : bur.aarasd@wanadoo.fr / corelso@yahoo.fr 

17.10.06, Monterotondo, Lazio, Italia: 1° Festival di Altri Mondi, "ONU, :la resistenza dei popoli e la loro autodeterminazione". Infos: <roro3@libero.it>

MARIEM HASSAN PRÓXIMOS CONCIERTOS:
21 octubre: Teatro Principal, Burgos
4 noviembre: Fira de la Mediterranía, Manresa
Infos: NUBENEGRA www.nubenegra.com

The 32thEuropean Conference of support to the Saharawi people, EUCOCO 2006, will take place in Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain) on3, 4 et 5 novembre 2006. Informations: http://www.eucoco2006.org
email: organizacion@eucoco2006.org

INTERNET

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OPINIONS: http://opinions.arso.org

 

NEW PUBLICATIONS
[External links to newspapers may not be valid after some days because the servers are restarted]

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

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

Castellano
>> Revista de la prensa en español http://es.groups.yahoo.com/group/revista-de-prensa-sahara-occidental/messages


Italiano
Attualità in italiano: El Ouali Bologna   + Radio for Peace
Oltre il muro: la RASD. Violazioni dei Diritti Umani nei Territori Occupati del Sahara Occidentale..Attualita' dall' 1 al 30 settembre  2006, N° 9, A cura di Jacqueline Philippe.

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