WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

Résumé August 2007

WEEKS 31 - 35 : 01.08 - 31.08.2007

original french

 

SADR

The Saharawi president, Mohamed Abdelaziz protested to the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, at the holding of legislative elections in the occupied territories and and asked him to put pressure on the Moroccan government “only to hold them within their own internationally recognised borders”...
[Full text]

29.08.07
The Council of Ministers exhorted the UN Secretary General in a similar vein.
Saharawi popular and trade union movements, and also two Moroccan political parties, have called for a boycott of the legislative elections, leaflets were distributed in various localities.

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO

Human rights defenders victims of repression
Two founding members of the movement to defend human rights in Western Sahara were called in for questioning:
Sadik Boullahi, a member of the executive of ASVDH was arrested on 27.07. in Goulimine, accused and released on bail on 29.07 until the date of his trial, fixed for 11.10. He is accused of “creating an unauthorised association”. Boullahi spent ten years in the secret jail of  Kalaat M'gouna and was released in 1991. The Italian judge, Nicola Quatrano intervened with the public prosecutor of El Ayoun in his favour and for freedom of expression. [ASVDH]
Daha Rahmouni, member of the executive of ASVDH, a former disappeared survivor of secret prisons, was questioned a second time on 06.08. in El Ayoun. [ASVDH]

A former political detainee,
Sidi Mohamed Alouate  was briefly detained in El Ayoun on 20.08.
The relentless pursuit deserves mention of another human rights defender, Hassanna Douihi, who accompanied Judge Quattrano during a trial. His car and his papers are confiscated on 3.08, [ASVDH] after taking various steps, the papers and car are returned on 8, [read]  but he is arrested for attacking territorial integrity on 22, released and re-arrested two weeks later.  [ASVDH]

In Smara, attempted arrest on 16.08. of human rights defender, Sid Ahmed Lemjeyid, president of the Saharawi Committee for the Support of the UN plan and for the Protection of Natural Resources in Western Sahara. Subsequently, his house is ransacked.

Questionnings and arrests
31.07.07
Arrest in Daoura to the north of El Ayoun of Lidrisi Taoubali Boujemaa, sentence announced for 02.08., postponed until 07.08., no information.[CODESA]

04.08.07
Independence demonstration at Foum El-Oued, with the arrest and incarceration in the Black Prison of a young Saharawi, Ahmed Lyaaich [Sidahmed Liichi], 1991, coming from Mhamid El Ghizlan on holiday. [CODESA]
The police proceeded in Foum el-Oued (El Ayoun’s beach) to several arrests of young Saharawis and held them in custody for several days. Foum el-Oued, a summer holiday resort enjoyed by the Saharawis, has become each year a theatre of independence demonstrations.
Other questionings take place in Smara and on the Saharawi-Mauritanian border. [ASVDH]

30.08.07
Another Saharawi citizen arrested in El Ayoun, Abdelghani Kabdani, and incarcerated in the Black Prison. It is not known of what he is accused. [ASVDH]

Foreign visitors mistreated
03.08.07, El Ayoun
The Italian judge, Nicola Quatrano, who was driving with his family on the road between Foum El Oued and El Ayoun, was stopped and checked by police, his papers and car were confiscated on a meaningless pretext. Quatrano had attended the day before the trial of the students in Marrakech. [CODESA]
[Testimonianza] [Italian press]

On 21 August, two young Norwegian politicians, who were accompanying Rabab Amidane back from Norway, are questioned in El Ayoun and advised to leave the region.[Aftenposten/NTB, 21.08.07]  [English transl. from Norwegian by the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara]
Rabab Amidane visited Norway and Sweden from 21.07. to 06.08.07. She had made many contacts with youth and student political organisations and met the Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and several parliamentarians. [Summary]

Sentences
31.07.07, El Ayoun
Four Saharawis are sentenced in the court of first instance to punishments of 8-10 years imprisonment on the false accusation of trafficking cocaine.
[CODESA]

09.08.07, Marrakech
Sentence on appeal of eight Saharawi students in Marrakech. Their sentences are reduced from eight to four months’ prison. Sultana Khaya, seriously injured in one eye, is given a suspended sentence of three months. [ASVDH]

Reports, testimonies
08.08.07, Publication of a detailed report on human rights violations against Saharawi citizens by CODESA for the period
01.05.-08.08.07. [CODESA

10.08.07, Testimony of human rights defender, Yahdih Ettarouzi, imprisoned in the Black Prison of El Ayoun for 10 months
:
"Black Jail" of El Aaiún/Western Sahara, "A grave for alive people",  [ English,  arabic ]

23.08.07, Report on sexual exactions on detainees in Dakhla.
Dakhla: Human rights NGO: Moroccan police exercise rape and sexual harassment on Saharawi detainee.
[English][arabic]

26.08.07, open letter
Political prisoners in the Black Prison have called on the President of the Security Council, Pascal Jayama, to “intervene urgently to make Morocco stop its provocations aiming to involve Saharawi citizens in the Moroccan elections,  which do not interest them”.

Elsewhere independence demonstrations have taken place in Ausserd and Tinguir, places which have not seen such events until now.

NATURAL RESOURCES

Phosphate
A ship called Akmi arrived in Northport New Zealand on 20.08., in Tauranga on 21, Timaru on 25 and Bluff on 26.
A ship, Matilde Corrado, arrived on 14.08. in New Orleans, USA.
Another ship, the Elver sailing under a Cypriot flag, arrived in Baranquilla, Colombia, on 15.02.07, followed by the Nepheli on 23.04.07,  the Achilles 1 on 01.07. and the Maritime Alliance on 30.07.
All these boats were carrying phosphate mined in Western Sahara.

31.08.07
A delegation of the Jordanian group “International Resources” carried out a visit to Dakhla-Villa Cisneros to investigate opportunities of investment in the region. A convention is said to have been signed.
[L’Economiste, 03.09.07]

REFERENDUM

10-11.08.07 Moroccan-Saharawi Negotiations [continued]

Before
07.08.07
Eight Saharawi associations from civil society in the occupied territories sent a letter to the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon on the eve of the second round of Moroccan-Saharawi negotiations. They ask, among other things, that as a gesture of good will all the Saharawi political prisoners should be released.
[Open letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, ASVDH, 07.08.07]  [original arabic]

MANHASSET II
The delegations are identical to those of the first meeting, except the Moroccan, filled out with several pro-Moroccan Saharawis and defectors. Under the aegis of the Personal Envoy of the Secretary General for Western Sahara, Peter van Walsum, assisted by the Special Representative, Julian Harston, several working sessions brought the two parties together. The Polisario Front as ever would defend the principle of self-determination and asked that three options should be offered for the Saharawi population to choose between: integration, autonomy or independence, while Morocco maintained its proposal solely for internal autonomy. United Nations experts presented to the parties papers on specific issues relating to the political and economic future of the territories of Western Sahara, questions of the refugees, the political prisoners, and human rights. Confidence-building measures were also proposed for discussion, such as the opening of a passage on the ground which would allow for the exchange visits of Saharawi families separated by the Moroccan wall, the sending of common delegations to the holy places of Islam, collaboration between Morocco and the Polisario Front in de-mining operations and the formation of a mixed military mission. These were accepted by the Polisario Front but refused by Morocco.
At the end of the negotiations van Walsum could announce that “the process of negotiation will continue and that appropriate consultations will be concluded at the date and place of the next round” [acccording to latest news third round should take place next novemeber or december in Geneva]. [--> more]

28.08.07
In a speech at the opening of a debate in the Security Council on the prevention of conflicts in Africa, Ban Ki-moon pointed out that the settlement of the most difficult conflicts in Africa has come to the top of his agenda, quoting Darfur, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Northern Uganda and Western Sahara.

30.08.07, France-Morocco
Taïeb Fassi-Fihri, Moroccan Minister delegate for Foreign Affairs, was received in Paris by the president of the Republic, the Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and the Secretary of State for European Affairs. This visit is within the framework of preparations for the State visit of Sarkozy to Morocco before the end of the year. Concerning Western Sahara, “France welcomes the holding in June and August last of two meetings between the parties under the aegis of the United Nations. (...) we hope now that the process we’ve engaged upon will end in a reasonable solution for each of the parties, at the end of a negotiated process within the framework of the United Nations.” 
[décl. gouvernementale]

MOROCCO

03.08.07, arms
Morocco is seeking to buy from the USA 60 self-propelled howitzers M-109A5 155 mm as well as 30 HUMMVEE vehicles.
[defense aerospace.com]
Belgium sold in March 2007 40  M-109 howitzers to Morocco [weeks 11-12/2007]

COMING UP ...

JORNADA JURÍDICA INTERNACIONAL SOBRE EL SAHARA OCCIDENTAL
Asociación Internacional de Juristas por el Sáhara Occidental
Madrid: 21 de Septiembre de 2007

ARTIFARITI 2007 - 10 al 27 de Octubre de 2007
http://artifariti.blogspot.com/

EUCOCO 2007 - ROMA 19-21.10.07
33ème Conférence européenne de solidarité avec le Peuple Sahraoui
33th European Conference of Support To the Saharawi People
33a Conferencia Europea de apoyo al Pueblo Saharaui
http://www.arso.org/eucoco2007/

INTERNET

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

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>>Artículos y reportajes sobre el Sáhara Occidental en Espacios europeos: http://www.espacioseuropeos.com/saharaoc.aspx

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