June - July 1997
Electronic Edition of the Publication of:
Families of Prisoners and Disappeared Sahrawi people
Fax: 213 793 15 68
Bureau of Human Rights of the European Coordination of Support for the Sahrawis
CH-1211 Geneva 9
Fax: 022 /320 45 50
Every year the International Day for Disappeared Saharawis has been commemorated on the first Saturday in June. This year, throughout Europe, actions included demonstrations, letters to the press and contacts with the Moroccan authorities. In this way we kept alive in collective and individual memories the names of each disappeared Saharawi: Mr. Buyema Lahsen Buseid born in 1948 in El Ayoun, disappeared in 1976 at Lamseyed, Mme. Fatma....and all the others.
Memories are one of the motivating factors that mobilise adopters of disappeared Saharawis each month all over Europe. They regularly write to the political and moral authorities of the world to inform them of the Saharawi situation, pointing out to them their responsibilities and duties. Is it possible to support a state which claims to respect human rights, yet uses disappearance as a weapon?
These disappeared were never judged; they are victims of completely arbitrary authority, and yet we do not hear the voices raised in disapproval of those who might intervene in situations elsewhere. Causing disappearances is a most inhuman way to establish a rule of terror. Those Saharawis who have disappeared and then been freed after many years relate the daily horror of the secret prisons to their families.
Families remain with no news, sometimes for twenty years. They wait. Is Ali dead? Is Zaina still alive in the death-hole, which is what the Moroccan prisons are, just near where the tourists' coaches go rumbling along? No-one knows, except the executioners who continue to wipe Saharawis from the earth. They have all committed the same crime: to be Saharawi and not to relinquish this age-old attachment.
If you would like to become an adopter, please contact the Campaign Office nearest to you.
AFAPREDESA condemns assassinations of Saharawis and sympathisers
Mr. Ahmed Routabi, born in Tan Tan in 1952, was assassinated on the night of 19/20 April last. He died immediately of stab wounds in the back in the rue du Commerce in Tan Tan. His 3 companions - Ali Menjl, Mohamed Salem Kaziza and Abdullah Boussalem - were arrested by the Moroccan police and taken to the police station. They were still detained on 11 May. AFAPREDESA notes that Ahmed Routabi had been arrested several times, suspected of spreading ideas in support of independence.
Several Saharawi sympathisers have been assassinated in recent years, among them notably Mohamed El Bechir Moulay Ahmed (Leili) 29/10/95; Abdallah Gremiche 11/95; Fatma Zarouali Daha 3/97 in El Ayoun.
Mr. Hammad Ali Hamad, of El Ayoun, father of two young daughters, was arrested in the night of 25/26 May last in the Colomina area of Al Ayoun in front of his workplace. Four plain clothes policemen tried to kidnap him, then two police vans arrived to back them up. Since then he has disappeared. His wife, Najat, employed at the Cultural Centre of the town has searched all the prisons and police stations of the town, in vain. AFAPREDESA condemns the impunity which Morocco enjoys, concerning its politics of repression toward the Saharawi people.
AFAPREDESA rejoiced when POLISARIO released 85 prisoners of war when James Baker visited the Tindouf refugee camps in April.
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
Two Representatives from AFAPREDESA at the 53rd session of the Human Rights Commission
Traditionally, the resolution on the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people is voted by consensus. So it was this time, presented by the President, Mr. Somol, representing the Czech Republic. So, regrettably, nothing new; no hard-hitting initiatives. However several NGOs intervened to analyse the responsibilities for the impasse of the peace plan. The CETIM emphasised the betrayal by the U.N. and the lack of rigour and passivity from the States toward Morocco's arrogance.
For its part FRANCE-LIBERTES summed up its intervention by saying: "Life is difficult for Saharawis in the occupied territories; freedom of expression is not always respected as many are in Moroccan prisons for defending their territory and demanding its independence. As for freedom of movement, it is limited, as journalists and representatives of human rights organisations and sometimes ordinary travellers have often found."
Pax Christi, MRAP, FEDEFAM (the International Federation of Democratic Women) and the Federation of Associations for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights also contributed. The interim president of AFAPREDESA, Abdeslam Lahcen, speaking through the International Association of Democratic Jurists, was able to relate the sufferings of his people, his hopes in 1991 when Morocco freed over 300 disappeared under international pressure, then how he had been deceived when he realised Morocco stepped up repressive measures and that Saharawis were once again arrested and subjected to all sorts of punishments and humiliation.
The European Bureau for Human Rights paid for the journey and expenses for the two AFAPREDESA delegates for the duration of the Commission, which allowed them to do considerable informative work and to make many contacts. The Bureau hopes to find the funds necessary for the next session in August.
Mohammed Daddach's family receive a visit in the refugee camps
Jacqueline Philippe is the correspondent of the Italian Bureau for Human Rights. Last February she went to the Saharawi refugee camps and met the mother of Mohammed Daddach. She reports on the meeting.
I meet Mustapha Mohamed, Daddach's nephew, in the morning of the 21st February '97 near Dakhla. It is a highly emotional moment and so unexpected. We arrange to meet later at Daddach's mother's tent.
Daddachıs family are neighbours of Fanfana, my young Saharawi friend. This makes the meeting all the more moving. Surrounded by a regiment of children running all around me to show me the way, I finally arrive at barrio 3ı in Aglibat El Foula.
I enter under a low door to find myself in a little courtyard where a whole delegation of people are welcoming me with great cordiality, inviting me to enter the tent. Inside, a group of women and children are all leaning round an old lady, Enguia Bakay, mother of Mohamed Daddach. Two friends of the same age sit beside her. All three wear traditional dress. Enguiaıs face is thin, worn with wrinkles, and her eyes glow like warm embers. We embrace warmly, strongly, and the emotion ripples around the tent.
Enguiaıs eyes grow more intense as she thanks all her friends all over the world who are fighting for the liberation of her son. She ceaselessly blesses those who keep alive solidarity with Daddach from afar. Then, briefly, tears well up as she grips my hands with a force I would not have expected in so frail a body. "You must do your utmost with all your far away friends so that I can see my son again before I die."
Someone has the good idea to pass round the glasses of tea. The atmosphere unwinds and other members of the family are presented to me. A dance of multi-coloured melahfas. We sip the tea, and it doesnıt matter if it is "as bitter as life is!" I meet Batul, Daddachıs sister, and the wives of Mustapha and Brahim Salem who are brothers of Daddach who work together. They are lorry-drivers. Children of all ages and neighbours come and go to greet their guest from afar. Mustapha Mohamed (a nephew of Daddach) presides the ceremony.
Mustapha gives me a bundle of letters which I am to give to the Red Crescent to pass on. We take photos to send to Daddach, and we make ourselves look our best in his honour.
We planned to meet again to deepen our relationship, but, as so often in the refugee camps, we didnıt. So I return to Italy with the memory in my heart of a little old lady bent by time passing and the weight of her destiny but so proud to be the mother of Mohamed Daddach.
A delegation of the European Bureau for Human Rights and AFAPREDESA was received at the Red Crescent headquarters. The letters and the photos taken by J. Phillippe were handed over to the person in charge of the North Africa-Middle East section, who will transmit them to Mohamed Daddach.
El Karama, the Bulletin of the Bureau for Human Rights. English version, translated by the Western Sahara Campaign (UK).
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