Showing posts with label News. Show all posts
Showing posts with label News. Show all posts

To inform: running the risk of being struck by the Moroccan police

On Friday, June 22, 2012, the occupation authorities have released Abdelmoutalib Sarir, a young Saharawi political prisoner. He had spent a month in the black prison on the charge of attack on apolice officer.

On the occasion of the release of Abdelmoutalib, aged 26, his family and friends have organized a feast.In effect, for the family and friends, it is a known fact that this kind of accusation is brought by the police when they come upon resistance during their attacks on the Saharawi activists.

In the morning, the occupation forces have surrounded the house of the family.The feast was held in the afternoon, during which slogans in favour of self-determination and independence of Sahara were shouted and the flag of the Saharawi Republic was lifted.

After the reception, the guests left and some of them have been attacked by the Moroccan police. According to witnesses, the police raged against the journalists and activists.

Hayat Rguibi, aged 23 and member of the EM team was with two of her friends when 20 police officers attacked them. They were particularly violent with Hayat who was driven by them to the hospital after she fell under their blows. According to the family, she is injured on the back and the head.

Mohamed Kher, aged 22, member of EM and Sidi Mohamed Dadach, aged 58, president of CODAPSO were also attacked in public by twenty Moroccan police officers.

A provisional list of other wounded has been established:

These are Miss Ghalia Joumani and Ms. Aicha Sarir, mother of the young released.

And Messrs Abdelkader Sarir, Byay Abdelaziz, Salami Mohamed, Youssef Khouaja, Saleh Rguibi, Babeit Ali Salem.

WSHRW, 24/06/2012

Pray for the unreached people of the day : the saharawi people

Saharawi of Algeria

Saharawi refugees fled Western Sahara to neighboring Algeria after a Moroccan invasion followed the withdrawal of Spain, the colonial power, in 1975. They have largely had refugee status since that time, making the Saharawi story virtually unknown in the English-speaking world. The Saharawi are descendents of the original tribes in Western Sahara and Morocco.

Ministry Obstacles

The Saharawi live in areas that are very difficult for outsiders to access, and they have few Christian neighbors.

Outreach Ideas

Sustained prayer will be essential to provide the Gospel message to these people. The Jesus film and Gospel recordings could be offered via television and radio.

Pray for the followers of Christ

There may be a few believers among the Saharawi. Pray for them, and for the believers that will come later. Pray they will mature into real disciples of Jesus Christ, serving Him with a whole heart.

Pray for the entire people group

Pray the Saharawi will soon be able to improve their living conditions, leaving the refugee camps for more favorable conditions.

Scripture Focus

"Give thanks to the Lord, call on His Name; make known among the nations what He has done." 
Psalm 105:1

Western Sahara issue reviewed by UN Committee on Decolonization

NEW YORK-The UN committee on the situation with regard to the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Granting of Independence, or "Special Committee of 24", reviewed Friday at UN headquarters (New York) 16 issues of non-colonized territories including Western Sahara.

During the review of the situation of the Sahrawi case, representative of South Africa Maniemagen Govender said that the Department of Legal Affairs of the UN had supported the request of the people of Western Sahara to exercise its right to self-determination.

He then urged the Security Council to support the political process between the Polisario Front and Morocco in ensuring that the mandate of MINURSO (UN Mission for the organization of a referendum in Western Sahara) is respected around its three priorities.

In this regard, he stressed that the priorities of the MINURSO consist in acting as an instrument of stability, implementation of a referendum and to provide independent information to the United Nations Secretariat, to the Security Council and the international community.

Calling that the last colony in Africa can finally be decolonized, he said that the continuing colonization of Western Sahara was "a denial of the Constitutive Act of the African Union and a serious obstacle to the continent’s economic and social development."

For his part, representative of Venezuela Maria Elena Padron Anzola, strongly advocated the rights of the Saharawi people to self-determination and called for strict implementation of Resolution 1514 (1960) of the United Nations.

While calling the committee of 24 to examine the Sahrawis reality of everyday life, she regretted that the mission of the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General, Christopher Ross, is suspended after the unilateral decision of Morocco to withdraw confidence.

For Padron, the Saharawi people must nevertheless exercise their right to self-determination and independence as quickly as possible.

For his part, representative of Ecuador Jenny Lalama-Fernandez supported the will of the Saharawi people to get a referendum for the exercise of their inalienable right to self-determination.

She noted that the report of the Security Council last April showed "the restrictions imposed by Morocco to MINURSO that has no freedom of movement or direct access to populations or local human rights organizations."

"We are facing a serious situation of violations of the UN duties," she said, noting that human rights are still violated in Western Sahara in which resources are exploited illegally by Morocco.

APS, 16/06/2012

Saharawi President reaffirms in Florence the right of Saharawi people to self-determination and independence

FLORENCE (Italy) - Saharawi President Mohamed Abdelaziz reaffirmed Saturday in Florence the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and independence through the holding of a fair and transparent referendum in Western Sahara illegally occupied by Morocco.

"As you know the question of Western Sahara issue is a clear and simple in that it is a problem of decolonization included in the UN agenda since 1965, its solution lies in the exercise by the Saharawi people of its inalienable right to self-determination freely and transparently," said Abdelaziz before the 2nd international conference on" Law, human Rights, Western Sahara between occupation and self-determination."

"Since 2004, Morocco was constantly revealing its intentions to evade its international obligations by rejecting the referendum or any other solution that does not legitimize its illegal occupation of Western Sahara", he said, noting that "to date, the international community has failed to impose sanctions and exerting the necessary pressure for the implementation of its decisions."

"Due to this deadlock, the Saharawi people had only to continue their resistance through a peaceful protest called "Independence Intifada," started since May 21, 2005," the Saharawi President said.

"The Moroccan authorities of occupation have responded to this peaceful resistance by a policy of brutal repression that continues until today" citing the example of brutal aggression against Gdeim Izik camp.

For Abdelaziz, "the Moroccan government thus violates international law by occupying the Western Sahara and violates international humanitarian law by its shameless repressive practices certified by the International human rights Organizations including the United Nations High Commission on human Rights."

"To date, we continue to witness the treatment reserved by the occupier to Saharawi civilians, who does not only kill in cold blood, but avoid its responsibilities while trying to hide the truth by any means, including the burial of victims in the absence of their families and avoiding submission to the autopsy as it was the case with Said Bember in El-Ayun," Abdelaziz said, indicating that the Moroccan government "unfairly keeps Sahrawi citizens in jail, for the mere fact of having claimed the application of the Charter and UN decisions, much more, it threatens to bring before the military courts Saharawi political detainees," he added.

"We cannot understand that the world remains complacent before the plundering of natural resources of an entire people by the occupation and plunder by multinational corporations which are complicit," said Abdelaziz.

"The Saharawi people is facing many challenges, including repression perpetrated in the occupied territories, exile, and survival in refugee camps due to the annexation of our country by Morocco and the difficulties inherent in the lack of humanitarian aid or the threat of terrorism which is illustrated by the abduction of European partners in the Sahrawi refugee camps’,” Abdelaziz said.
APS, 16/06/2012

Questions of Gibraltar, Western Sahara, Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Examined by 4th Committee

The Western Sahara had been suffering for more than 40 years. The Saharan people were the only ones who could decide their future, she stressed. There had been four rounds of formal those negotiations, although no progress on status had been made. The Saharan people needed the international community’s support. Cuba, with its few available resources, was committed to lending that support, in particular, in the area of education. She also called on Member States to offer study opportunities to students from Non-Self-Governing Territories. The Saharan people could always count on Cuba’s solidarity, she said

MARIAELENA ANZOLA PADRON ( Venezuela) said that it also stood in solidarity with the people of Western Sahara, as they sought to exercise their right to self-determination, which must be respected. Venezuela recognized the Saharawi Democratic Republic, and with the help of the United Nations, the people of that country would be able to exercise their right to self-determination. Resolution 1514 (1960) must be fully respected in that regard, and she urgently appealed to the Special Committee that, at its next session, to give more focus to that matter. It should approve the proposal to appoint a group to visit the territory, thereby providing updated information about how decolonization was actually perceived. Venezuela was disturbed that negotiations had not yet been successful, but trusted that they would proceed in accordance with the principles of the United Nations and its relevant resolutions.

JENNY LALAMA-FERNANDEZ ( Ecuador) also supported the right of the Saharan people to self-determination. She recalled an agreement in 2011 between Western Sahara and Morocco. The Secretary General had called on the Security Council to enhance the credibility of United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), and the Council had adopted a resolution in April calling for the freedom of movement of that Mission. The last round of negotiations in New York had indicated that talks would continue in June, and that a visit to the territory would take place. However, neither of those things had yet come to pass. Once again, she said, “we face a dangerous situation” as the United Nations sought to deal with one of the world’s remaining decolonization issues. Human rights were being violated, natural resources were being exploited and the promised referendum had not yet been held.

MANIEMAGENGOVENDER ( South Africa), observer, said that legality was on the side of the Saharan people in their quest for decolonization. International legal opinion had upheld their position and there were clear precepts for safeguarding the interests of non-self-governing peoples. The obligations of administering Powers were clearly spelt out in relevant international documents. It was on that basis that steps should be taken to improve the lot of the Saharans. South Africa believed that with the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism already under way, the need to address the situation should take on added urgency. The Saharan people were subjected to a double tragedy, and the Special Committee must take decisive steps to address their problems. The United Nations was obligated to protect their rights while working towards the Territory’s decolonization. The Security Council should ensure that MINURSO completed its mandate.

Ban appoints UN official as head of mission on referendum in Western Sahara

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced the appointment of Wolfgang Weisbrod-Weber of Germany as his Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).

Mr. Weisbrod-Weber succeeds Hany Abdel-Aziz of Egypt, who completed his assignment on 30 April 2012.

“The Secretary-General is grateful for his strong leadership and perseverance,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in news release.

The spokesperson added that Mr. Weisbrod-Weber brings to the post 28 years of experience with the United Nations and a strong background in peacekeeping direction and management, both in headquarters and in field operations, such as with the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the UN Mission in East Timor (UNMIT).

UN News Centre, 15/06/2012

German police German police arrest man suspected of spying for Morocco on ‘Polisario’ supporters arrest man suspected of spying for Morocco on ‘Polisario’ supporters

Prosecutors in Germany say police have arrested a man on suspicion of spying for Moroccan intelligence on supporters of the Polisario group, which seeks independence for the Western Sahara region.

Federal prosecutors say the suspect, identified only as Mohammed B. in line with German privacy rules, was arrested in Berlin on Wednesday. They said in a statement that police searched the man’s apartment as well as houses and offices of two other suspects.

Prosecutors say the 56-year-old Moroccan-German dual national is suspected of having spied mostly on German-based members of Polisario.

The group advocates independence for the Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony taken over by Morocco in 1975.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Rue20, 14/06/2012

Dakhla Western Sahara fishing: Morocco plays hide and seek with EU

A group of European Parliamentarians visited yesterday the town of Dakhla in occupied Western Sahara in the context of lobbying for continued EU fisheries in the territory that Morocco has illegally occupied.

A Saharawi fisherman from Dakhla says European vessels, currently fishing in southern Western Sahara under non-European flags, were in a place called 'La Sarga', some 8 km out of Dakhla harbour, during the Parliamentarians' visit. The delegation is said to have only stayed at the port for 15 minutes, during which only Moroccan fishermen were allowed to enter the premises.

From what Western Sahara Resource Watch has been told, the entire fleet of private industrial vessels was pulled out of the harbour before the MEPs' arrival to the port yesterday early afternoon.

After the Parliamentarians had left town, the vessels returned. The video was filmed shortly after their return.

Saharawi fishermen committees tried to meet with members of the delegation, but state to have been hindered by the Moroccan police forces in Dakhla.

A European owned fishing fleet is currently present in Western Sahara, fishing under various Caribbean flags of convencience. The video shows the Swedish owned vessels Meya and Aldo.

The visiting Parliamentarians were reportedly staying at a military hotel in Dakhla, known for normally only hosting higher Moroccan army officials. Local sources state that the delegation was being transported around by Moroccan government cars, accompanied by the secret service.

Morocco has illegally occupied parts of Western Sahara since 1975. According to the UN, natural resource activity cannot take place in Western Sahara unless it is according to the wishes and interests of the Saharawi people. The EU has never tried to ascertain whether their past operations fulfulled these criteria. 

Two years later, murder of sahrawi national still uninvestigated

(2012-06-08) The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center) and the Collective of Sahrawi Human Rights Defenders (CODESA) are deeply concerned by the failure of the Moroccan government to fully investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Sahrawi national Said Dambar (26) and by their refusal to inform his family of his whereabouts. Under Article 2 (3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Moroccan government has an obligation to investigate Mr. Dambar's death. Moreover, the right to know the fate and the whereabouts of relatives is widely recognized in international law and Morocco is a signatory on the International Convention on Disappeared Persons.

Mr. Dambar was allegedly shot and killed by a Moroccan police officer on December 22, 2010. That day, the police came to Mr. Dambar's house in the middle of the night to tell his family that he had been beaten by a police officer and that they needed to see his documentation. At the time, the police claimed Mr. Dambar had a minor arm injury and was at the hospital for treatment. The Dambar family waited at the hospital for several hours without knowing whether Said was alive or dead. On December 23, he was officially declared dead, but his family was allowed to see only his head, which had clearly sustained a bullet wound.

An RFK Center delegation met with Mr. Dambar's family in January 2011. The family reported that they were not told of his death or whereabouts at the time of the incident. Afterwards the family received conflicting reports of what really occurred, and to this day, no autopsy was performed and the family has not been granted access to his medical records. After an incomplete investigation, the court ruled that the murder was an accident and as a result, the convicted police officer was sentenced to only 15 years in prison.

Despite the Muslim tradition of burying a body as soon as possible after a death, the Dambar family has steadfastly refused to bury Said's body insisting that an autopsy be performed and that they be given access to the information surrounding his death. The Moroccan government still refuses to investigate the causes of Mr. Dambar's murder, conduct an autopsy, or acknowledge any wrongdoing. Moreover, Moroccan law enforcement has regularly harassed members of the Dambar family, demanding that they bury the body. Mr. Dambar's brother, for example, was turned down for a government position and told by the Ministry of the Interior that he would obtain the position once he buried his brother.

On June 4, 2012, at 8:30 am Moroccan authorities presented Mr. Dambar’s family with a court order requiring that his body be buried at 9 am that day, but his mother refused to sign the court order. Mr. Dambar’s sister and a member of CODESA arrived at the cemetery just after 9 am where he was supposed to be buried, but there was nothing there. One hour later, the cemetery and the neighborhood where Mr. Dambar's family live were surrounded by Moroccan military forces. The Dambar family continues to call for an autopsy and demands to know the whereabouts of the body.

The RFK Center and CODESA stand in solidarity with the Dambar family and call on the Moroccan Government to comply with its obligations before national and international law. The RFK Center and CODESA urge the Moroccan Government to fully investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Dambar, by performing DNA testing on his remains and releasing the autopsy report to his family. Moroccan Government should also respect the Dambar family right to the truth and release the information of his whereabouts.


Western Sahara is known as "Africa"s last colony." There has been an ongoing conflict since 1975, when Morocco occupied Western Sahara despite an International Court of Justice ruling that Morocco did not have a legitimate claim to the territory. The invasion has led to a decades-old conflict between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Polisario Front, a national movement committed to self-determination for the people of Western Sahara. With the war and Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara, its native people—the Sahrawi—were divided in two, those living under Moroccan Occupation and those living in refugee camps in Algeria. The United Nations Mission for the Referendum of Western Sahara (MINURSO) was created in 1991 to provide an international presence to oversee a cease-fire. The mission was also tasked with helping to administer a referendum on self-determination for Western Sahara, but the referendum never took place.

Instead, Morocco consistently violates the basic human rights of the Sahrawi people, particularly those who advocate for change in Western Sahara. In its attempt to stop dissenting opinions concerning Western Sahara and the Sahrawi people, Morocco has demonstrated intolerance for political dissent. Moroccan authorities routinely prevents non-violent assembly; interferes with the formation and functioning of NGOs; persecutes those who publicly express dissenting viewpoints; and tortures, harasses, arbitrarily detains, and disappears Sahrawi civilians and human rights defenders that support the self-determination of Western Sahara.

The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights was established in 1968 to carry on the legacy of the late U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy. In 2008, the president of the Collective of Sahrawi Human Rights Defenders (CODESA), Aminatou Haidar, received the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award for her undaunted non-violent work, promoting the civil, political, social, cultural, and economic rights of the people of Western Sahara. Through the RFK Human Rights Award, the RFK Center joins CODESA and Ms. Haidar in their struggle to increase visibility and dialogue about ongoing rights violations in Western Sahara and to promote the protection of human rights in the territory.

The Collective of Sahrawi Human Rights Defenders (CODESA) is a grassroots collective of Saharawi human defenders distributed throughout occupied Western Sahara who operates under severe risk and constant surveillance. They are deemed illegal by Morocco and unable to register as an association

Sahrawi political prisoners in Morocco’s Sale jail start hunger strike

RABAT- Twenty Sahrawi political prisoners kept at Sale jail, near Rabat in Morocco, since the dismantling of the Gdeim Izik protest camp by the Moroccan occupying forces in on 8 November 2010, began Friday hunger strike, according to a source close to their families.

"The Sahrawi prisoners have started the hunger strike to demand their unconditioned release or setting the date for their trial before a civil court, and also to protest against their detention conditions and the deterioration of their health," said a member of the committee of Sahrawi prisoners’ families.

The hunger strike aims at drawing attention of international community of the violation of their rights and their detention conditions, the source said, adding that "it is possible that it will become an unlimited hunger strike."

Last May, the Moroccan human rights association (AMDH) called for rapid intervention for their release, as they have spent one year and four months in prison without trial, in violation of paragraph 3 of article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

APS, 10/06/2012

Polisario urges for MINURSO to organize referendum for self-determination in Western Sahara

The Polisario Front called on the United Nations to allow the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) protecting human rights in Western Sahara, said a statement issued following a Polisario National Secretariat meeting, chaired by its Secretary General Mohamed Abdelaziz.

The United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) was established by Security Council resolution 690 of 29 April 1991 in accordance with settlement proposals accepted on 30 August 1988 by Morocco and the Frente Popular para la Liberación de Saguia el-Hamra y de Río de Oro (Frente POLISARIO). It is the only UN mission without a component to survey and protect human rights.

Why was Western Sahara occupied by Morocco?

Why was Western Sahara occupied by Morocco? My blunt claim is that the country was occupied because of the cold war, the area's rich amount of phosphates and King Hassan II's need to quell internal oppostion. 

After Hassan II restricted parliamentary power with constitutional changes in 1970, there were two failed coups against his rule in 1971 and 1972, both led by army officers. After the second failed coup, the power of parliament was suspended (again) and several members of parliament and of the opposition were jailed or killed.

Hassan II found himself in a situation where he needed to rearrange the army into royalistic control and quell internal opposition, and what better way to do so than to occupy Western Sahara? 

With the occupation of Western Sahara, Morocco gained a nationalistic victory which gathered the nation symbolically, created more jobs and provided for a slight increase in living standards. 

By doing this, international attention was diverted from the abuses suffered by Moroccan democratic opposition. Also, the international community had an interest in restricting the Soviet influence in Northern Africa and the growing nationalistic and democratic sentiments in the region.

The original population of Western Sahara has a genuine cultural and historical claim to this area. The UN have supported this claim in more than 90 resolutions. 

So why have UN member countries around the world not done more in order to stop this? 

Recently, Morocco has redrawn its support to the last attempt of the UN to resume negotiations and resolve the situation, and again it seems that the occupation can continue with little protest. 

Unless countries which have a real financial and political power over Morocco step up their pressure, the population of Western Sahara might continue to live in refugee camps or the occupied territory under horrible conditions. 

Meanwhile, international companies continue to plunder Western Saharan resources and the democratic movement in Morocco is silenced.

Revised version of an original published by: 

Marie Palm (@marfpa)

Australia for a new informal round in June

Senate Estimates: Conflict in the Western Sahara

07 Jun 2012 | Foreign Affairs / Human Rights

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee

Estimates hearings 30 May 2012
Senator Bob Carr, Minister for Foreign Affairs
Mr Dennis Richardson, Departmental Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Mr Paul Robilliard, First Assistant Secretary, South and West Asia and Middle East Division
Ms Deborah Stokes, First Assistant Secretary, International Organisations Branch
Mr Paul Myler, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Europe Division

Senator RHIANNON: Morocco has announced officially that it will no longer cooperate with the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Western Sahara, Mr Christopher Ross. Does the government still support the efforts of Mr Ross and will it encourage Morocco to continue to cooperate with him to resolve the longstanding conflict in Western Sahara?

Senator Bob Carr: Let me seek advice.

Mr Robilliard : Yes, we are aware of the comments reported by a Moroccan official that they will not continue to cooperate with Mr Christopher Ross, the United Nations Secretary-General's special envoy on the Western Sahara. We would ask Morocco to seriously consider that decision. The next round of informal talks are due to be held in June. We certainly hope that Morocco will continue that round of informal discussions with Mr Christopher Ross.

Senator RHIANNON: You said that Australia will be asking Morocco to work in this way. When will that advice be conveyed?

Mr Robilliard : We do not have a fixed appointment with Morocco to convey that advice, but I am sure that we will find an appropriate opportunity to do so.

Senator RHIANNON: What does 'an appropriate opportunity' mean?

Mr Robilliard : It means an occasion that may arise within the context of our discussions in New York, for example.

Senator RHIANNON: What is the position of the government regarding the idea of including human rights monitoring in the mandate of the UN mission in Western Sahara?

Mr Robilliard : We fully support that.

Senator RHIANNON: What action is being taken to demonstrate that support?

Mr Robilliard : We welcomed the adoption of Security Council Resolution 2044 in April this year, which has a specific reference to human rights.

Senator RHIANNON: Has the government raised the issue of human rights abuses in Western Sahara during the recent universal period review of Morocco by the UN Human Rights Council?

Mr Robilliard : Our consistent position has been to support UN efforts to resolve the situation in Western Sahara, including the addressing of human rights. As I noted, we have certainly welcomed the UN Security Council resolution most recently passed. I am not aware that we spoke specifically on the question though in the meeting you refer to.

Senator RHIANNON: Considering that was the opportunity to do that, is there any reason that that was not done?

Mr Robilliard : I am not aware of one, no.

Senator RHIANNON: Would there be anybody else here who could inform us why, considering that it was the opportunity for Australia to express its position?

Mr Richardson : We will take notice that on notice and get back to you.

Senator RHIANNON: If you could expand on that, it would be appreciated.

Mr Robilliard : Certainly.

Senator RHIANNON: What is the position of the government concerning the importation of Australian companies of phosphates from the non-self-governing territory of Western Sahara without benefit to the indigenous population and as it is against their wishes, which has been expressed on a number of occasions?

Mr Robilliard : I would note that the United Nations has not imposed any sanctions on such trade and the government has not imposed any restrictions on the importation of phosphates.

Senator RHIANNON: However, there has been considerable international opposition expressed to that trade. Is Australia aware of that opposition?

Mr Robilliard : I am aware that there has been opposition raised, yes.

Senator RHIANNON: What is the assessment of that opposition?

Mr Robilliard : As I said, the government does not impose any restrictions on the importation of phosphates.

Senator RHIANNON: Is that a contradiction considering, although no country nor the UN recognises Western Sahara as being part of the national territory of Morocco, the government of the Kingdom of Morocco has imposed sovereignty over Western Sahara for 35 years? Doesn't the issue of the sovereignty of Western Sahara need to be addressed here considering resources from the land are being removed by Morocco?

Mr Robilliard : I think we are talking about two very distinct issues here. On the one hand, the government does recognise the UN classification of the Western Sahara as a non-self-governing territory, and the government's policy is that we do believe the people of Western Sahara have a right to self-determination. That is the political situation. The other side of that and a separate issue is the fact that we do not impose any restrictions on the importation of phosphates.

Senator RHIANNON: The International Court of Justice said in 1975 that Morocco had no claim to the territory of Western Sahara and reaffirmed the people of Western Sahara's right to self-determination. Does Australia recognise that position?

Mr Robilliard : We do believe that the people of Western Sahara have the right to self-determination, as I said.

Senator RHIANNON: If they have the right to self-determination, shouldn't that also include the right to manage their resources as they wish?

Mr Robilliard : As I said, I think we are talking about two different elements of the situation on the ground.

Senator RHIANNON: I understand the OECD has guidelines for multinational enterprises which show that the responsibilities of companies extend right down the supply chain. Maybe this question goes to the minister. Are these principles that the government recognises and advocates that Australian companies follow?

Senator Bob Carr: I would like to take that question on notice.

Bon Brown Blog, 07/06/2012

Western Sahara : Murders, torture and intimidation

The “Equipe Media” firmly denounces the moroccan policy of intimidation in Western Sahara

More than a hundred Saharawi participated in the burial of the Saharawi citizen who was killed in mysterious circumstances.

On Tuesday, June 5, 2012, a funeral procession led by an ambulance driven by the so-called AbdelHaq Rabaii, officer of the general information service, left the hospital of El Aaiún toward the cemetery of “El Khaoui” to the East of the occupied city.

The Intifada activists took the opportunity to honor the martyr, by wrapping up his body with a SADR flag; they also proclaimed slogans for the independence.

Somewhere else, a young Saharawi was abducted on Tuesday night by a police patrol led by the so-called Ahmed Toaif.

Mohamed Babir, aged 21, was abducted in the neighbourhood of Al A’aouda; according to his words, the policemen in civilian dress beat him in the car and blindfolded him with a fetid and used cloth; the investigators tortured him to obtain information on “Equipe Media” which works in particular in the occupied territories of Western Sahara.

El Haoussi Nguia

Hayat Rguibi

Mohamed Saleh Zerouali

Mohamed Berkan

Lehbib Lgasmi

Mohamed Kherr

The “Equipe Media” firmly denounces the policy of intimidation and confirms that it will continue to work in order to denounce the military repression and break the media embargo existing since the invasion of the Western Sahara territory by Morocco.

EM, El Aaiún, occupied Western Sahara

June 6, 2012

Source : WSHRW, 06/06/2012

Why Morocco must not be allowed to join the African Union

“What does Morocco mean to an Englishman?” George Orwell asked in one of his finer essays. “Camels, castles, palm-trees, Foreign Legionnaires, brass trays and bandits.” That was 1939. But whatever Morocco means to an Englishman today it probably isn’t "occupation, refugees, and landmines".

Morocco is a standard tourist destination and is held up as a model for Arab and African development alike. It may, therefore, come as something of a shock to hear that Morocco is the only African country excluded from membership of the African Union (Madagascar, Mali, and Guinea-Bissau have all been "suspended" since 2009 and 2012 respectively).

This is not something that sits well with King Mohammed VI or his new Government, and on Wednesday a diplomatic team in Rabat started Morocco’s latest push for membership. Kindly voices from the AU have also started to exercise their larynxes on the matter, such as prominent Tanzanian MP, Edward Lowassa Ngayai, who backed bringing Morocco into the AU fold last month.

Morocco was elbowed out of the AU’s predecessor, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1984 after the organization finally recognised the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, the exiled government of Western Sahara, which Morocco invaded and occupied in 1976 and has held by force ever since.

Western Sahara represents one of international diplomacy’s greatest failures. When the Spanish left in 1975, Sahara was to be the last country on the continent to go through decolonisation; it would forever mark the end of the sanguinary history of empire in Africa. Instead it is Africa’s last colony.

The occupation has left hundreds of thousands of Sahrawi disenfranchised, and somewhere between 90,000 and 200,000 have fled as refugees, most of whom currently live in the Tindouf refugee camp in Southern Algeria, and in similar camps in Mauritania. The Moroccan army has established a segregation wall over 2000km long and surrounded by landmines, going through Western Sahara. Sahara’s resources are plundered, and its people continue to suffer.

The United Nations response to the occupation has been nothing short of a disgrace. Though the UN recognises the occupation is illegal, it has utterly failed to do anything about it. The UN has maintained a peacekeeping mission meant to hold a referendum on autonomy in Sahara (MINURSO) since 1991, but it has no mandate to monitor human rights abuses, a skeleton staff, and thanks to France’s Security Council veto has failed to produce a referendum for 21 years.

In spite of all this, it was in Western Sahara’s Gdeim Izik camp that the political protest movements in North Africa began, two months before the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi. The Western Sahara protests received little recognition, let alone backing, in national newspapers, nor did anyone call for the end of the authoritarian regime that was its target. Moroccan security forces dismantled the 6000 tent camp, and the movement, by force.

The African Union is undoubtedly a corrupt and weak institution, and includes countries with even worse human rights records than Morocco. But the one break in over 35 years of international inertia on the occupation of Western Sahara has been the AU’s stand for independence, and refusal to admit the membership of Morocco.

If regional institutions are capable of having any impact at all on global justice (a question to which the answer may well be no), then it can only be by making membership for countries on the peripheries of regional blocks conditional on ending their abuses of human rights, something which has arguably been achieved to some extent with the European Union.

A Chatham House report once compared an AU human rights court to “whistling in the wind”, but its policy on Western Sahara and Moroccan membership is one success in a list so short that it could be inscribed on one of Orwell’s brass trays. If it abandons that stance now, the AU will have to say it is happy living with a colonial Africa.

New Stateman, 06/06/2012

Australia will ask Morocco to cooperate with Ross and supports human rights

Canberra, June 05, 2012 (SPS) - the Australian Government stated that it would ask Morocco to seriously consider its decision not to cooperate with Mr Christopher Ross, the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy on the Western Sahara, during a hearing in the Australian Senate on Wednesday.$

In a response to a questions from Senator Lee Rhiannon, Mr Paul Robilliard, First Assistant Secretary, head of South and West Asia and Middle East Division in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said “The next round of informal talks are due to be held in June. We certainly hope that Morocco will continue that round of informal discussions with Mr Christopher Ross.”

Responding to questions whether Australia supports the idea of the inclusion of human rights in the mandate of the UN mission in Western Sahara (MINURSO), Mr Robilliard said “We fully support that.” 

During the hearing Mr. Robilliard said that the Australian “government's policy is that we do believe the people of Western Sahara have a right to self-determination.” (SPS)

Western Sahara: President Abdelaziz calls on Saudi Arabia to mediate between his country and Morocco

BIR LAHLOU (liberated territories) - Saharawi President Mohamed Abdelaziz called on Saudi Arabia to intervene with Morocco to end the lasting conflict in Western Sahara and the sufferings of the Saharawi and Moroccan peoples, the Sahrawi news agency SPS reported Sunday.

"Due to the deadlock caused by freezing of the negotiation process after the refusal by Morocco of the mediation of UN Secretary General Personal Envoy Christopher Ross, I address your Majesty to ask his Majesty king Mohamed VI to end the conflict and the sufferings of the Saharawi and Moroccan peoples, " President Abdelaziz said in a letter to the Saudi monarch king Abdullah bin Abdulaziz.

He asked the Moroccan king to "start serious" negotiations with the Saharawi party on the basis of the charter signed by late King Hassan II with the Sahrawis on respect for the will of the Saharawi people to freely decide about their."

"With this deadlock in the process of resolving the conflict between Morocco and the Sahrawis since 1975, I decided to speak to your Majesty as a servant of the Holy Places of Islam," Saharawi president said stressing that this initiative came following "the abandonment of Morocco’s international commitments including those related to self-determination referendum for the Saharawi people."

President Abdelaziz reiterated on the other hand, the important role of late King Fahd bin Abdulaziz to convince late Hassan II to consider appeals from the international community and accept the self-determination referendum for the Saharawi people.

"The question of historical rights, Morocco’s only argument for its continued occupation of Western Sahara, has been battered by the international community two weeks before the invasion through the opinion of the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Aware of our responsibility toward the future of the Sahrawi and Moroccan peoples, we have made concessions but the only concession never to ask about is to abandon the struggle for the right of Saharawi people to self-determination," President Abdelaziz said.

"International law, the guarantor of international peace, recognizes this right and gave to the Saharawi people, only the Saharawi people, the right to decide about the final status of Western Sahara territory between either independence or annexation by the Morocco, and other forms," he added.

President Mohamed Abdelaziz also affirmed that the Polisario Front was as brave as late Hassan II, who said in London (July 1987) he would be the first to open an embassy in the city of Laayoune if the Sahrawis vote for independence.

On the other hand, the Saharawi president expressed the availability of the Polisario Front "to accept any result of referendum on self-determination including annexation to Morocco and recognition of its sovereignty over the territory if such was the will of Saharawi people."

Rally in support of Saharawi cause in front of the Moroccan embassy in London

LONDON- A demonstration of solidarity to reaffirm the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination was held Saturday near the Embassy of Morocco in London.

Several British associations supporting the Saharawi cause, like the Western Sahara Campaign, British students and artists supporting the struggle of the Saharawi people, took part in the rally.

Activists of the Saharawi cause and human rights raised Saharawi flags and placards holding: "Morocco Out, Morocco murderer", "Where are the 651 Sahrawi prisoners?" "Stop torture "and" free Sahara."

"England, land of human rights par excellence, as well as the international community is challenged by the question of Western Sahara where human rights are violated daily by the Moroccan occupation for decades," Ken Ritchie, president of the Western Sahara Campaign told APS during the rally.

"The British Parliament should look at what is happening in Western Sahara, and condemn violence as it does when it comes to the Syrian issue," he added.

British and other nationalities students and union representatives were also present to provide support to the Saharawi cause. For Brazilian Marcelo Marcedo Darley, "these events should be held daily in the UK and around the world to raise international awareness of a fair cause, that of a people struggling for independence."

APS, 02/06/2012

Western Sahara: The Last Colony – The Moroccan Occupation of Western Sahara

By Malainin Lakahal

The UN has adopted around hundred resolutions reaffirming the Sahrawi people's right to self-determination. Yet Sahrawis are still denied the legitimate and fundamental right to vote on the fate of their homeland.

The West often portrays itself as the champion of democracy, rule of law and human rights. Yet, when we look at Western Sahara, the hypocrisy and dishonesty in such portrayals are laid bare. The story of Western Sahara - the plight of its people and their struggle for freedom - is willingly and deliberately ignored by Western powers and mainstream international media despite the fact that it is the last colony standing in the African continent.

Western Sahara - bordered by Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the Atlantic Ocean - first fell under Spanish rule in 1884, becoming a Spanish province in 1934. In 1975, the colonial master signed an illegal pact - known as the Madrid Agreement - with Morocco and Mauritania abandoning the North African territory to invasions. Following the pact, Morocco and Mauritania moved to annex the territory while Spain ensured its interests in the exploitation of natural resources in the region.

From 1975 to early 1980s, Moroccan air force rained Napalm and White Phosphorus on the Sahrawi people, killing thousand of men, women and children only because they rejected the illegal occupation of their land and tried to flee the zone to organise resistance. Following the massive killings, the Sahrawi liberation movement, Polisario, decided to seek refuge for the thousands of Sahrawi refugees in the only neighbouring country that did not attack Western Sahara: Algeria.

In 1976, the refugees in Algeria formed the Sahrawi state in exile: the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, SADR. At present, SADR is a full member of the African Union and is officially recognised by more than fifty countries worldwide.

In 1979, when Mauritania withdrew from Western Sahara, Morocco took control of the whole territory. Today, seemingly forgotten by the international community, Western Sahara remains a Moroccan colony with its people divided between refugee camps in the Algerian desert and under occupation in their own land.

In 1975, the International Court of Justice ruled that Western Sahara is a non-self-governing territory, therefore, it was to be decolonised through a process of self-determination conforming to the United Nations charter. The UN does not recognise Moroccan territorial claims over Western Sahara. The Security Council and the General Assembly have, to date, adopted around hundred resolutions reaffirming the Sahrawi people's right to self-determination. Yet, thirty-four years on, Sahrawis are still denied the legitimate and fundamental right to vote on the fate of their homeland. Meanwhile, international human rights organisations and bodies including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Front Line, Freedom House and the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights routinely report that Morocco is responsible for systematic human rights violations in Western Sahara.

Throughout the years of occupation, Morocco has systematically plundered Sahrawi natural resources worth billions of dollars, while the Sahrawi people languished in refugee camps - unable or too afraid to return home. Western Sahara is not a barren desert, as it may sound. It is rich with a reserve of high-quality phosphate, fishing resources, possible reserves of oil, gas and other minerals. Given its breathtaking natural beauty and its tolerant, hospitable and generous Muslim African population, Western Sahara could have been one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the world.

Today, Morocco controls two-thirds of this beautiful land by building a military wall, Berm, that runs more than 2400 km dividing Western Sahara and its people from north to south. More than 120,000 Moroccan troops are stationed along this wall of shame, 24/7. Beyond the wall, Morocco maintains live minefields and barbedwire fences making it impossible for men and animal to move around in the once free desert.

In the occupied zones of Western Sahara, Morocco confines thousands of Sahrawi people in an open prison where they can just helplessly watch their country being plundered. Peaceful demonstrations against the occupation are ruthlessly suppressed with arbitrary arrests, ill-treatment, torture and indefinite imprisonment without any trial. On top of that, Sahrawi human rights monitors have documented 526 cases of enforced disappearance since the beginning of the occupation. Yet, the UN mission on the ground, MINURSO, is unable to address the human rights situation in the occupied territories. Because, France - one of the key international actors in the conflict - opposes any attempt to include human rights monitoring and protection in the MINURSO mandate.

France - the cradle of democracy, freedom and liberty - blindly supports the colonial thesis of the Moroccan regime, an authoritarian monarchy still governed by a doctrine that dates back to the sixteenth century. Back in 1976, Paris was so eager to aid Morocco that it deployed its air force based in Senegal to attack Sahrawi freedom fighters in Western Sahara.

Successive French governments have brazenly supported the Moroccan colonial misadventure politically, diplomatically and financially. In April 2009, when the latest UN Security Council resolution on Western Sahara was adopted, France firmly opposed any condemnation of Moroccan violations, in a typical show of support for Morocco.

On the other hand, Spain claims to maintain a neutral position on the Western Sahara question. From a legal point of view, one might not be wrong to suggest that Spain is just evading its responsibility, since it was the tripartite Madrid agreement that gave birth to the Western Sahara crisis. We must also note that Western Sahara is still under de jure Spanish administration.

As for the European Union, instead of denouncing the atrocities committed in Western Sahara, in 2008, the EU awarded Morocco with a special partnership status as an economic partner. This rosy relation is, of course, bolstered by Morocco's ties with France and Spain.

The US position on Western Sahara has been rather ambiguous, right from the beginning. The White House has always publicly supported UN efforts in decolonising Western Sahara while Morocco was aided with weapons and military training, as a non-Nato ally.

Nonetheless, recent media reports show a positive change in the Obama administration's approach. In June 2009, President Obama sent a letter to Mohammed VI, the king of Morocco, stating his government's support to the UN efforts in reaching a mutually acceptable and fair solution. In the letter, he also expressed hope that Morocco would cooperate with Christopher Ross, the UN secretary general's envoy to Western Sahara.

While Western Sahara suffers under the Moroccan military siege, the international media remains completely oblivious of the atrocities committed against the Sahrawi people. Even tough its plight is very real and apparent, the world has chosen to turn a deaf ear to Western Sahara.

Eigteen years ago, the Polisario gave up weapons ending a sixteen-year war with the unlawful occupier: Morocco. As part of the UN-brokered ceasefire, a referendum on Sahrawi self-determination was promised. While that promise still remains unfulfilled, 165,000 Sahrawi refugees continue to live in refugee camps in Algeria and the rest of the population suffer under the ruthless colonial occupation.

The Sahrawi people have heard a lots of false promises and excuses for the last forty years. They have always, patiently and willingly, compromised for the sake of peace. Yet, over and over, they have been deceived by the international community.

Now, as the world turns its back on Western Sahara, the Sahrawi people have two choices: continue the struggle for freedom and justice, no matter how much sacrifice it takes, or, submit to be a weak prey in a world governed by the law of the jungle.

Isn't this an easy choice to make?

Malainin Lakhal is a Sahrawi journalist in exile in Algeria. He is the Secretary General of UPES: Sahrawi Journalists and Writer