WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 03 - 04 : 14.01. - 27.01.2007

original french

 

SADR

15.01.07, Ecuador
The Saharawi president,  Mohamed Abdelaziz, attended the investiture of the new president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa in Quito. During his stay he met representatives of Ecuadorian human rights organisations, who intend to set up a solidarity organisation for the Saharawi cause and to organise a South American mission of observation of human rights in the occupied territories of Western Sahara. [SPS].

23.01.07, declaration
In an interview to the Panama daily, El Siglo digital, the Saharawi president considered that Panama, a member of the UN Security Council since the start of the year, could contribute to finding a solution to the conflict in Western Sahara. He called on the UN to implement the measures which require Morocco to respect its commitments. He also recalled that Panama was the first Latin American country to recognise SADR in 1978.

20-25.01.07, 7th World Social Forum
A large Saharawi delegation took part in the 7th World Social Forum in Nairobi. Its presence was much commented on during the solidarity march with Africa at the opening of the Forum, its information stand and the musical performances of the group, Estrella Polisaria, aroused great interest. Various aspects of the question of Western Sahara were treated in workshops: human rights violations in occupied Western Sahara and the self-determination of the Saharawi people.
[Photos]  [Video]
The Parliamentary Platform of the Forum unanimously approved a motion of support for self-determination of the Saharawi people and the immediate implementation of UN resolutions, as well as the holding of a free and fair referendum.
It should be noted that a group of Moroccans and defectors of Saharawi origin tried to make trouble during the discussions, as they have done on other occasions.
[Letter of protest to the WSF]

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO

12.01.07, Taghjijt, Southern Morocco
Two Saharawi citizens, Hassan Bachir Mohamed Boufi and Mohamed Houssein Brahim Erjdal, were arrested and interrogated. They are accused of being the instigators of demonstrations which took place recently in this locality and the authors of graffitis in favour of the independence of Western Sahara. [SPS]

13.01.07, Aoueinat, Southern Morocco
An independence demonstration was brutally dispersed by the police in this locality near Goulimine, causing numerous injuries.
[AmbRASD Alger]

13.01.07, El-Ayoun
Independence slogans were painted on houses near that of Lembarki’s family on the occasion of the first anniversary of the burial of Hamdi Lembarki, assassinated by the police in October 2005.

15.01.07, trial in Smara
Naama Asfari, arrested on 5 January, released provisionally since the 12th (see...) was given a two month suspended sentence with a fine of  500 dhs (45 euros). Numerous policemen from El Ayoun on board about twenty minibuses prevented any demonstration and barred access to the court. Four international observers, Daniel Voguet, French barrister, Ines Miranda and Simplicio del Rosario, Spanish lawyers mandated by the General Bar Council, and Nicola Quatrano, a magistrate with the Naples court, mandated by the municipality of Naples, attended the trial. [Rapporto italiano]

15.01.07, Agadir
A Saharawi political detainee, Lefkir Lahcen, imprisoned in Inezgane (Morocco), sentenced on 3 November 2006 to three years’ prison, was acquitted on appeal.

15-19.01.07, Ali Salem Tamek in Germany
Invited by the Gesellschaft fuer bedrohte Voelker (Society for threatened peoples), the Saharawi activist had talks during his stay in Berlin with the officer in charge of international relations for the SPD, Achim Post, as well as with spokespersons from the Socialist parliamentary group on the Committees for Human Rights and humanitarian aid, Christoph Straesser, and cooperation and development, Gabriele Groneberg, as well as with the vice-president of the Greens parliamentary group, Hans-Christian Stroebele. He was received at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the director of the Department for the Middle East and Arab Magreb, Sabine Sparwasser.

The Gesellschaft fuer bedrohte Voelker published a detailed report on human rights violations in Western Sahara in 2006. It demanded that Morocco “release immediately and unconditionally Saharawi political prisoners”. It also called for the extension of Minurso’s prerogatives to include the protection of Saharawi citizens.[Press Release]

17.01.07, interview
The coordinator of the mission of observation to Western Sahara of the Spanish General Bar Council, the lawyer, Ines Miranda, in an interview
with the Spanish daily ABC, accused Morocco of pushing young Saharawis towards exile. Mrs Miranda cited the example of a young Saharawi arrested and tortured in El Ayoun in the course of a gathering organised recently by Saharawi activists to celebrate the international day for human rights. She pointed out that the Moroccan police had proposed to this young man either to collaborate with the police, or the leave in a small boat for the Canary Islands, promising him, in the latter case, to facilitate the journey. [ABC, 17.01.07]


19.01.07, exactions
At the Black Prison of El Ayoun, Saharawi political detainees, in particular Brahim Sabbar and Ahmed Sbai, were attacked and beaten by guards. Handcuffed, they were taken to the common law cells. Their personal effects were confiscated. Their families have not been able to obtain any information. The Saharawi political detainees started a hunger strike to denounce this attack and to claim protection.
Ali Salem Tamek launched an appeal in favour of Saharawi political prisoners, from Brussels where he was received in the Belgian Parliament and by the NGO "Solidarité Socialiste".

20/21.01.07, Smara
During demonstrations against the Moroccan occupation, four people are arrested, interrogated, taken outside the town, beaten up and abandoned there.

20-21.01.07, El-Ayoun
On the occasion of the first regional congress of the USFP, demonstrations took place in Saharawi quarters, graffiti appeared on the walls, Saharawi flags were hung up and leaflets calling for independence were distributed to congress members.

Mines
The number of victims of landmines continues to grow. On Thursday 18 January 2007, the member of parliament Mohamed Lamine ould Elkori ould Lamghaimad, member of the Chamber of Councillors, was killed following the explosion of a mine in the region of Bakari. Likewise, Mohamed ould Khatri ould Eljoumani, president of the commune of Gueltat Zemmour, member of CORCAS, was killed also by a mine which exploded in the region of Bir Nzarane, on Monday 22 January 2007. The same day, a young Saharawi girl of 9 years, Nora ment Brahim Lahmar, died from the explosion of another mine in the region of Haouza, while her brother was transferred to hospital in a very critical condition.[ASVDH]

23.01.07, El-Ayoun
The court of appeal of El-Ayoun postponed once again sentencing Sabbar Brahim, secretary general of ASVDH, of Sbai Ahmed, member of its steering council and Loumadi Abdessalam until 6 February 2007.

Moroccan police recently questioned Ahmed Lbachra, a young Saharawi living in Spain, on a family visit to Western Sahara. On arrival at El Ayoun airport, the police arrested him and confiscated his passport. Lbachra is accused of having taken part in a demonstration of solidarity  with the Saharawi people in Madrid in 2006. [ASVDH]

NATURAL RESOURCES

Norway
A Norwegian independent journalist, Erik Hagen, published four articles which reveal the implication of Norwegian firms in the commercialisation of fishing resources coming from Western Sahara, whereas the Norwegian government, which does not recognise the annexation of Western Sahara by Morocco, still disapproves of economic cooperation with this occupied territory and Norwegian public opinion is sensitive to the ethical aspects of the trade.
Read:

[Norwatch is an independent news service that conducts critical journalistic investigation on Norwegian businesses in developing countries, investigating whether the companies act in accordance with basic human rights, labour rights, safety and environmental standards. In addition, Norwatch covers issues concerning Norwegian investment, export and import ethics.]

REFERENDUM

21-22.01.07, Algeria-Portugal
In a joint statement at the end of the visit of the Portuguese Prime Minister, José Socrates to Algiers, the two parties reaffirmed, on the subject of Western Sahara, “their attachment to a fair, lasting and mutually acceptable solution to the conflict, within the framework of international law and relevant UN resolutions devoted to the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people.” [Déclaration commune]
23.01.07, Spain
The Popular Party of the Basque Country presented before the Basque parliament a draft motion calling the central government to “involve itself” during the current year at an international level towards the holding of a referendum of self-determination in Western Sahara. [SPS]

24.01.07, European Parliament
Speaking before the External Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, the European commissioner for external relations, Benita Ferrero-Walder, warned Morocco that it must avoid criticism of its respect for human rights in Western Sahara. She added that the EU would follow closely the implementation by Morocco of UN resolutions on Western Sahara. [EFE]

MOROCCO

27.12.06
The Minister for Foreign Affairs declared in the parliament that Morocco refuses to ratify the statute of Rome of the International Penal Court, signed in 2000, under the pretext of non-conformity with the Moroccan constitution (the sacredness of the person of the king). [agencies]

HUMANITARIAN AID

14.01.07
The president of the Saharawi Red Crescent (CRS) during a conference in Algiers, launched a new “urgent” appeal to all humanitarian organisations, since the food stocks ran out in October 2006. He indicated that the distribution of foodstuffs for January, which should have been done on the 1st, has not yet happened. He asked the World Food Program to speed up the allocation of aid which has been sent to it. “The WFP has been holding for three months a Spanish donation valued at 1.5 million euros, declared the president of the CRS, Yahia Bouhoubeini. The WFP also holds other donations, notably those coming from the general management of European humanitarian aid (ECHO) of 1 million euros and from Finland (240,000 euros)”
 [Sahrawi Red Crescent (SRC): Urgent call for assistance] [The Saharawi Red Crescent exhorts the WFP to block the funds intended for the Saharawi refuges, SPS, 17.01.07]

23.01.07
Specialists in the management of food aid from WFP and UNHCR will evaluate, over 12 days, “the urgent food situation of 90,000 “vulnerable” Saharawi refugees in the refugee camps, in collaboration with NGOs on the ground, representatives of donor countries and the Polisario Front”. Ron Redmond, UNHCR spokesman, insisted on the lack of funds of the UN agencies, despite repeated appeals to donor countries. The president of the CRS expressed “surprise that the mission of this mixed delegation from the UNHCR and WFP consists only in evaluating the situation, at a moment when we are expecting from these two bodies the distribution of urgent humanitarian assistance to the refugees”. The principal administrator of the WFP, Nicole Steyer, joint leader of this delegation, confirmed that “the situation is critical, very critical at this moment” in the Saharawi refugee camps. [UN agencies assess 'dire food situation' of 90,000 refugees, UN News, 23.01.07]
 [Mission to assess food situation in Sahrawi refugee camps in western Algeria, UNHCR Briefing Note, 23.01.07]
On 25 January, the WFP announced having received 1.3 million euros from the European agency, ECHO.
[WPF release]

SOLIDARITY

23.01.07
Eva Reinbacher erhält für den Beitrag "Westsahara - der vergessene Konflikt" aus der Sendereihe "Globale Dialoge - Women on Air" auf ORANGE 94.0, dem Freien Radio in Wien, den diesjährigen Radiopreis für Erwachsenenbildung in der Sparte Information. (semaine 29-30 : 16.07.-29.07.2006)
Diesen Beitrag anhören oder downloaden:
http://cba.fro.at/show.php?eintrag_id=6254

COMING UP...

05.02.07, Santander: Presentación del libro "Sáhara, 30 años de exilio" de Javier Rodríguez Gómez, y proyección del DVD "Saharauis, arquitectos del exilio", el próximo lunes 5 de febrero a las 7:30h. de la tarde en el Salón de Actos del IES Santa Clara, en la calle Santa Clara nº 13 de Santander.
En el acto intervendrán:

José Félix García Calleja, Director General de Asuntos Europeos y Cooperación al Desarrollo del Gobierno de Cantabria.
Rosa Eva Díez Tezanos, Consejera de Educación del Gobierno de Cantabria.
Javier Rodríguez Gómez, periodista y autor del libro y del DVD.
Zahra Ramdan, Responsable de Relaciones Exteriores de la Unión Nacional de Mujeres Saharauis.
24.02.- 03.03.07: VUELO CHARTER desde Cantabria. Info: http://www.labarored.org/interpueblos/Sahara/vuelos/index07.htm

16.01.07, Sahara Marathon
The seventh “Sahara Marathon” will take place on 26 February next in the Saharawi refugee camps near Tindouf, organized by the Saharawi Ministry of Sports in collaboration with WHMF and UNHCR Germany. Nearly 300 athletes coming from every continent are awaited in the wilaya of El Ayoun. The Saharawi athlete, Salah Hmatou, living in France, will participate in this competition. Saharawis have enrolled in the 10 and 21 km races. A super-marathon organised  will go from Bir Lehlu to Tifariti (liberated territories) over 160km. This super-marathon is the second of its kind after that of 200km organised in 2004. [SPS]
English http://www.saharamarathon.org/desktopdefault.aspx
Espagnol http://www.saharamarathon.org/desktopdefault.aspx?lg=3
Deutsch http://www.lauftreffreisen.de/html/besuch_bei_den_kindern_der_wol.HTM

Italy
The president of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Fausto Bertinotti, received representatives of the El Ouali Association of Solidarity with the Saharawi People of Bologna, who presented the seventh edition of the Sahara Marathon
.

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