WEEKS 01 - 04 : 01.01. - 31.01.2008
A resolution adopted by the Executive Board of the Norwegian Centre Party demands the recognition of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. The Centre Party is one of 3 parties in the Norwegian Government. In April 2007, one of the other 3 government coalition parties, the Socialist Left Party, also made the same demands.(news 23-24/2007).[Unofficial translation by the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara] [norsk]
Prominent Chileans demand the recognition of SADR by their government. [más]
SADR announces that the second offer for exploration bids for oil will be launched in Houston, Texas, USA on 5 February 2008. The offer comprises three blocks on-shore and six off -shore. [Press release] [El Moudjahid, 22 janvier 2008]
The Saharawi minister for Culture Khadidja Hamdi asks the Director General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, to support the development of the education system in the Saharawi refugee camps and the liberated zones, as well as to promote and preserve the cultural and historical Saharawi heritage. [SPS]
The Special Envoy of the Saharawi President, El Khalil Sidi M'Hamed, is given an audience in Nouakchott by the President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi. [SPS]
Destruction of archeological sites
Following the warning by scientists of destruction of archeological remains by members of MINURSO in the liberated territories of Western Sahara (see news December 2007), the Saharawi minister for Culture organised a conference in the camps with Saharawi and European scientists, including Joaquim Soler Subils and Nick Brooks. [El Observador, 04/01/08]
MINURSO recognises, in a statement dated 16 January, that “part of the graffiti” are the work of members of UN military personnel. It reveals that measures were taken in 2007 to put an end to any act of vandalism and that an inquiry is in progress. [Press release, EN]
The British daily, The Times, which dealt with the subject in its cultural section, reports that the Special Representative for Western Sahara, Julian Harston, after having visited the site, apologised to the Polisario Front and promised sanctions and reparations. The UN has asked UNESCO to evaluate the damage. [more]
TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO
Arrest on 10.01.08, El-Ayoun of Mahmud Leboihi, minor, accused of visiting pages of the internet relating to SADR, on 22 in Zak of a member of CODESA, Ettalbi Brahim, on 28 in Dakhla of Khalihenna Oulad Cheikh Beida, Saharawi human rights activist as well as two other young Saharawis, Adnan Khattat et Cheikh Abdallahi.
Seven Saharawi fishermen were injured on 7 January in the course of a violent intervention by Moroccan police forces to disperse a demonstration of fishermen claiming their right to carry out their business on the beach of Loubouirdah, better known as "Tchica", in Dakhla. The same day, dozens of Saharawi citizens demonstrated in Mhamid El Ghizlan in solidarity with the victims of repression in the occupied territories and in southern Morocco. A Saharawi student, Ballagh Ali Salem, protested outside the Law faculty in the Hassan 1 University in Settat against the fact that he had not been admitted to pursue his post-graduate studies.
The trial of the Saharawi human rights activist, Saaid Moustapha El Beillal took place in the absence of the accused. Four Saharawi lawyers and five international observers were present. The sentence was made public on 17 January, Beillal, was sentenced to eight months’ detention for incitation to riot, armed assembly and attacking agents of the public services during the exercise of their duties. The collective of Saharawi students in Moroccan universities decided to pursue their protest against this sentence. El Beillal, imprisoned in Salé, fasted for 24 hours on 29 January to demand separation from common law prisoners, the possibility of continuing his studies in political science, to receive visits and medical care. [ASVDH, EN] [AFAPREDESA, 15.01.08] [Rapporto italiano] [idem avec traduction française]
04.01.08, The Saharawi president sent a letter to the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, to ask him to intervene in order to protect Saharawi victims of the recent repression in Smara, El-Ayoun and Boujdour.
28.01.08, The French branch of Amnesty International sent a letter to the Moroccan Ministry of Justice to express its grave concern at the restrictions imposed on the activities of human rights groups in Western Sahara, in particular the Saharawi Association of Victims of Serious Violations of Human Rights committed by the Moroccan state (ASVDH), also the Collective of Saharawi Defenders of Human Rights (CODESA) and asks for the immediate and unconditional release of Brahim Sabbar.[campagne et pétition]
– new common grave
Human remains were discovered near a military barracks constructed after 1976 in the Elawda quarter, according to a statement by the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights in Smara. The Committee and ASVDH ask for an inquiry to establish the origin of the discovery. The organisation,
Defend International Monitoring & Investigation Committee supported the demand in a communication to the Moroccan government. [Statement, 15 January 2008]
Four members of a traditional Saharawi music group Al-Wahda of El-Ayoun, on tour in Fuerteventura, asked Spain for political asylum on 23 January, at the end of their tour of the island at the invitation of the association of Moroccan emigrants, Kabar...
Another sign of the desire many Saharawis have for exile, following a rumour, over 500 people took the Casa d’Espana by storm in El Ayoun on 16 January to lodge a request for naturalisation... [El Pais]
In its half-yearly report for 2007, the cement multinational Italcementi announces that its subsidiary in Western Sahara,, Industrie Sakia el Hamra "Indusaha" S.A. has carried out preliminary work for the construction of a 10 MW wind park in El-Ayoun. [report]
The director of the international fair "Travel Fair 2008" in Oslo asked the Moroccan Office of Tourism, after an intervention by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, not to engage in promoting any tourism to occupied Western Sahara. [Norsk] [EN]
Representatives of Western Sahara Resource Watch met the director of the Canaries travel agency, Olimpia 2000 to ask it to stop its tourism activities in occupied Western Sahara. [Informe, ES]
A liberal parliamentarian asked the Minister of Agriculture in a written question to check how Morocco was implementing the EU fishing agreement of 2006 on the territorial waters of Western Sahara. The minister replied that he would send the question on to the EU.
[Skriftlig fråga 2007/08:458, 11.12.07] [Svar på skriftlig fråga 2007/08:458, 19.12.07]
The Russian ship, Aleksandr Mironenko has been fishing off the coast of Dakhla at least since mid-December 2007.
[see the position of the vessel] like the Kapitan Bogomolov in mid-January 2008. These two vessels belong to the Murmansk Trawler Fleet, one of the biggest Russian fishing companies controlled by the government.[see the position of the vessel] [report]
The Fortune Lady arrived in the USA on 17 December, shipping phosphate from Western Sahara for the American-Canadian business, PCS Nitrogen. The Furness Hartlepool arrived on 9 January in Fremantle, Australia, the Triton Stork on 31 January in Lyttleton, New Zealand. Both ships loaded with phosphate from Western Sahara. The cargo ship Sac Malaga of the company Ership S.A., sailing under a Panama flag, arrived in the port of Huelva on 5 January carrying 15,000 tonnes of phosphate from Western Sahara for FMC Foret. At the beginning of January, WSRW sent a second letter to this chemical product business, to point out the illegality of the imports of phosphate coming from Western Sahara. [Carta a FMC Foret / Ership] [Europa Press, 15.01.08]
The Office chérifien des phosphates OCP signed an agreement with four Indonesian companies specialising in the production of fertilisers (Petrokimia, Pupuk-Kalimantan, Medco-Energy and Bosowa) for the building of a plant to manufacture phosphoric acid in Morocco and phosphate-based fertilisers in Indonesia.
The Australia Western Sahara Association AWSA asked at an extraordinary general meeting held in the town of Bendigo of the community bank, Bendigo Bank, not to buy shares in companies which illegally import phosphate from Western Sahara. The executive director replied that his bank would consider the matter.
[Press release] [The Advertiser, 30.01.08]
AWSA also welcomed, in a statement, the decision of the Swedish fund Oehman to divest the Australian phosphate fertiliser company CSBP [press release]
Moroccan-Saharawi Meeting - Manhasset III
For the third time, the same Saharawi and Moroccan delegations met in Manhasset in a suburb of New York. The Secretary General’s personal envoy, Peter van Walsum, presided at the meetings, to which the media were not admitted.
“We do not expect a breakthrough at this meeting. We are going ahead with it...to discuss the details of the autonomy proposal”, a Moroccan government official declared beforehand. “We hope that this time Morocco...will engage in substantial negotiations”, had replied the Polisario Front representative at the UN, Ahmed Boukhari. No advance was achieved in the course of the three-day talks. In a final statement, Peter van Walsum noted that “the parties continued to express points of view showing significant differences.” The parties nevertheless agreed to meet again at Manhasset from 11 to 13 March. The Personal Envoy of the Secretary General is expected to visit the region shortly for “consultations in depth” [Interventions, media, etc. see special page]
The Human Rights NGO, Human Rights Watch launched an appeal to Morocco to respect the freedom of expression in Western Sahara, a pre-requisite for the negotiation of a solution respecting the will of the people. [Statement]
M'hamed Khaddad, a member of the Saharawi delegation, declared in an interview that the discussion had bearing on “the implementation of resolutions1754 and 1783, the end of which is self-determination. We went more deeply into our proposal, which speaks of the referendum of self-determination with three options: independence, autonomy and integration. We spoke of the administration, which will have as a basis a republican state, with multiple parties, democracy and the respect of human rights, although for Morocco the only solution which they see as valid is their plan. This is what is creating a blockage. There were preliminary discussions on the confidence-building measures, which could not be implemented, in particular the exchange of mail and seminars. Morocco refused any discussion on confidence-building measures proposed by the Personal Envoy, namely de-mining of the territory, joint patrols of the two parties to control the cease-fire, the exchange of high level delegations and the one we added : the question of human rights.”
Concerning the reasons to continue with the negotiations, Khaddad replied that there is an interest in the international community and the Security Council and that the third round made possible a visit of the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General to the region. He considered that “we are witnessing the slow death of the autonomy project proposed by Morocco, from the fact that it is illegal and does not respond to the spirit of the Security Council resolutions.”
[El Watan, 14.01.08]
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Tayeb Fassi Fihri declared on 9 January to the Parisian weekly, l’Express that Morocco would take part in the next round of negotiations “in the same state of mind and with the will to make explicit and explain the context in which we are working, namely autonomy and nothing but autonomy”. Making a link between the Polisario Front and terrorism, he added that “the terrorist threat weighs on us all. We have every interest in accelerating the resolution of the problem to be able then to work together on the security of the region”. This attitude is denounced by Mohamed Yeslem Beissat, ambassador of the Saharawi Republic in Algiers [L'Expression] , who declared on 15 January that “Moroccan and American parties are trying to find any way they can to associate the struggle of the Saharawi people with the latest events in Mauritania and in the region of the Sahel”.
The spokesman of the Department of State, Tom Casey, in his response to a question, declared that the USA considers that the Moroccan proposal is a serious and credible option and hopes that the Polisario will agree to discuss it. [original ]
Two members of the Moroccan delegation were received in Paris immediately after the talks in Manhasset. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bernard Kouchner received Fassi-Fihri. [APO]
Michèle Alliot-Marie, Minister for the Interior, talked the same day with her counterpart, Benmoussa. She reaffirmed the necessity for a collective mobilisation against the terrorist threat in the Sahel and in the whole region”, which ministers have decided to raise to a “higher level”. [point de presse MinInt FR]
The Portuguese MEP, Pedro Guerreiro (GUE) asked in a plenary session for the full respect of the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people and for Morocco to stop its boycotting manoeuvres with the negotiation process.[original port.]
The Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Per Stig Moeller, carried out an official visit to Morocco, in the course of which he was reported by the Moroccan press as having welcomed the autonomy plan in the Sahara. The Minister denied the words attributed to him by MAP.
The Swiss President, Pascal Couchepin was more circumspect. Despite the entreaties of his hosts, he declared during his official visit at the beginning of January that, in the search for a solution to the conflict in Western Sahara, Switzerland placed its hope in the UN.
23.01.08, European-Maghreb Dialogue
The question of Western Sahara should be “set aside for the moment” from the discussions in order to make progress with Maghreb integration, the European Commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, considers in a conversation with the Economiste.[Interview]
Council of Europe
Speaking during a debate on cooperation between the Council of Europe and the countries of the Maghreb, Jean-Paul Lecoq, from the group of the European United Left, denounced the notion of “territorial consolidation of Morocco” brought up in relation to the question of Western Sahara. “Must we understand that ‘green marches’ permitting the occupation of Western Sahara, war and the forced exile of thousands of Saharawis should be considered by the Council of Europe as a territorial consolidation”, the French deputy asked, calling the notion “unacceptable”. [document]
25.01.08, Report of the UN Secretary General on the progress of negotiations concerning Western Sahara S/2008/45
Ban Ki-moon presented his analysis of the latest round of talks on Western Sahara. He considers that the parties exchanged views seriously on the subject of the application of Security Council resolutions 1754 (2007) and 1783 (2007). But that “there were few exchanges which looked like negotiations in any guise”. He recognised as positive elements that the parties welcomed the intention of the Personal Envoy to visit the region in the near future, that they had agreed to meet again and of the necessity of more intense negotiations better focused on the basis. [EN, FR, ES, AR]
After passing through Paris, the Moroccan Minister for Foreign Affairs, Fassi Fihri had talks with several American government officials. On the subject of his meeting with Secretary of State Rice, the State Department spokesperson said that the question of Western Sahara had been broached and that Mrs Rice had underlined that her government firmly supported the efforts of the UN to find a solution. [Daily Press Briefing]
The Spanish Supreme Court acknowledges for Saharawis, in certain circumstances, the condition of statelessness, in accordance with international law and Spanish law. According to the court, Moroccan nationality cannot be imposed upon them in any way. [20/11/2007, recurso casacion núm.: 10503/2003, Tribunal supremo]
[El Mundo, 19.12.07]
Spain gave to Morocco, for one symbolic euro, eight guided bomb systems valued at 86.848 euros, to equip fighter planes Mirage F-1 and Northrop F-5.
[Europa press] [Comentario Gonzalo Moure, 20 de Enero, 2008].
On the other hand, the Moroccan airforce is said to have acquired from the USA infra-red detection systems for its fighter planes valued at 15 million dollars. It is the first country in North Africa to acquire this type of new generation system. The airforce is reported also to have signed several contracts for defence systems valued at 250 million dollars. (Assabah, 25.01.08)
Members of the European Parliament Raül Romeva and Karin Scheele asked, in a written question to the Commission, if the sale of arms to Morocco was compatible with the requirements of the EU on the arms trade.
4 al 11 de enero
2008, 2º Festival de Cine Social y Derechos Humanos Cine Otro,
Valparaíso (Chile). El documental "Sahara no se vende", dirigido
por los navarros Luis Arellano y Joaquín Calderón, ha
recibido el galvano "Centenarios Salvador Allende" como reconocimiento
en la sección "Pueblos originarios y cultura". Más
información en http://www.saharanosevende.com y http://www.cineotro.com .
14-16 de enero 2008, Jornadas sobre el Sahara: "Derechos culturales y politicos del pueblo saharaui y cooperacion, Universidad de Sevilla. Organiza: Asociacion Andaluza de Antropologia.
16 al 25 de enero del 2008, «Un paseo por las tierras saharauis», exposición pictórica de Fadel Jalifa Alí en el Recinto de la Asamblea Legislativa del Distrito Federal, Mexico. [Pintores sahrauis] [comentario]
22 de enero de
2008, En el marco de las actuaciones de la Agencia Española de
Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID) en los
campos de refugiados saharauis de Tinduf, los días 16 y 17 de
enero se han repartido 472,4 toneladas de alimentos frescos. [comunicado
Action Day du Forum Social Mondial
The Maghreb Social Forum organised activities in Algiers, Nouakchott and in Bouznika in Morocco. The latter demonstration mobilised over 1000 participants including 35 Saharawis. The Saharawi participants took part in the work of various workshops. The one on conflict resolution in the Sahara had some difficult moments because of the provocations of a Moroccan minority against the Saharawis. Finally calm returned and it finished its work by adopting The Appeal for peace in Western Sahara. [corr.]
Switzerland: Intervention of M'Hamed Cheikh in the name of the Polisario Front representation in Switzerland at the 8th alternative conference of the WEF “The Other Davos” in Zurich. [allocution]
25 Jan– 2
February 2008 : 10. African Union Summit, Addis-Abeba, Ethiopia,
31 Jan –2 Fbruary 2008 : 10. Ordinary Session of the Coference of the Head of State and Government Gouvernment
14 de febrero, a las 20 horas, Mesa redonda sobre el conflicto del Sáhara y los medios de comunicación, en el Centre Social Flassaders (Palma). Org.: La Associació d'Amics del Poble Sahrauí de les Illes Balears. http://saharaillesbalears.org
25.02.08, Sahara Marathon http://www.saharamarathon.org/
7 al 14 de marzo de 2008, XXIII edición del Festival Internacional de Cine en Guadalajara. La película mexicana "CERCA DEL OLVIDO", dedicada al pueblo saharaui, participará en la sección Mejor Largometraje Documental Mexicano.
15 au 21 mars 2008, Vol charter Genève - Tindouf organisé par le Comité de Soutien au Peuple Sahraoui, Vaud - Suissse, p.a. Moulay El Bechir Ould-Dedi, Email : <moulayeb[at]hotmail.com> ou <dadi[at]dd-energy.com>
ingénieurs sahraouis, ersion arabe : http://www.sahara-ing.org/indexa.htm
Site en espanol: Bir Lehlu, Asociación de ayuda al Pueblo Saharui de Pozuelo de Alatrcón: http://www.pozuelo.saharalibre.es
Blog en espanol: http://voluntadydeterminacion.blog.com
Blogs en arabe:
Human Rights -
Droits humains - Derechos humanos
Analysis - Analisis
[External links to newspapers may not be valid after some days because the servers are restarted]
>> Revue de la presse internationale francophone http://fr.groups.yahoo.com/group/revue-de-presse-sahara-occidental/messages
>> English publications on Sahara Update mailinglist: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sahara-update/messages
>> Revista de la prensa en español http://es.groups.yahoo.com/group/revista-de-prensa-sahara-occidental/messages