Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Waiting for the referendum

Sahrawis have been waiting for a referendum for some time. If you count from the year the UN called for worldwide self-determination, to be decided in referendums, it's been 42 years. If you count from Spanish decolonization, it's been 31. And if you count from Morocco's Settlement Plan promise, it's been 15.

The Sahrawis have had a lot of time to wait, and to have their hopes dashed. In a particularly sad scene in Endgame in the Western Sahara, Sahrawis in Tindouf hear about Hassan II's death. Confident there'll be a referendum, they break their roofs down into packaging for their trip home, and sell their herds. It's devastating imagining their exhilaration turning to disappointment.

There's a part of ARSO I hadn't noticed until today where people can submit opinions about the Western Sahara. Agaila Abba Hemeida of Free Western Sahara wrote a nice poem about the referendum, and what it represents to Sahrawis.

ARSO also has a humorous page about the referendum process written by Nafaa Mohamed Salem. Displayed like an online help page, it nevertheless conveys the frustration Sahrawis must feel as Morocco blocks every attempt at self-determination.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Morocco won't even dignify me with a block

Shucks. Like any good Western Sahara fan, I lust for a legitimacy only Morocco can give: blocking my blog. All sorts of other websites have been given that distinction. I figured I'd have to start writing in Arabic or French, but it seems even that won't get me blocked anymore. This was on ARSO's news page:

The censorship of Internet sites judged hostile to the interests of Morocco is becoming more common. After the sites supporting the Polisario, it is certain free servers which are being blocked partially or totally. The last to date : the name of the domain “blogspot.com”, which harbours several Moroccan blogs ... and a Saharawi blog particularly virulent against the kingdom. Censorship continues likewise to hit the geographical search program Google Earth.
Fiddlesticks. A blanket block is no fun. There is an upside, though: apparently the Moroccan government is so afraid that its lies will be exposed, it even blocks websites with as little inherent credibility as free blogs.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thanksgiving in the Western Sahara

It was a wild Thanksgiving week, and no improvised blessing before Thanksgiving dinner could do justice for all the things we can be grateful about the Western Sahara. I'm thankful for:

-ARSO. I never tire of ARSO's news and documents collection. If you ever think the situation in Western Sahara's stalemated, check ARSO to be proven wrong.

-Speaking of chess analogies, I'm still reading Endgame in the Western Sahara and loving it. I think I'll order a copy when I'm done, because it's a handy resource for statistics and quotes, and because anyone who spent as much time as Toby Shelley did writing about the Western Sahara deserves to be supported. I'll have a bunch of posts coming up on what I've learned from the book, but for now it'll suffice to say that Mohammed Daddach is a cool guy.

-Sahrawis who are keeping the Hassaniya dialect alive.

-Commenters, including the Moroccans who post anonymously (and angrily). Keep it up, guys. Your insults keep things light, although I have to say I'm disappointed that no recent commenters have equaled Sword of Ali's "no grain of its dunes will ever fall to your hands."

-These are only tangentially related to the Western Sahara, but I know you can't resist a girl who barely avoids getting tasered at concerts, a Houstonian who loves local government even more than she loves SADR, and Disillusioned Kid, who made a post about the Western Sahara and keeps a tight blog himself.

"Work hard, study...and don't go crazy trying to figure out what the Moroccan government wants"


I was in Barnes and Noble and saw a display of books by local authors. One of the books was Work Hard, Study, and...Keep Out of Politics!, the memoirs of former Secretary of State and one-time Western Sahara negotiator James Baker.

A quick trip to the index led to the 4 pages on the Western Sahara. Considering that negotiating with Polisario, Morocco, Algeria, and Mauritania took years of Baker's life, I expected more than 4 pages filled with generalizations you could cull from the Wikipedia article on Western Sahara. I think Western Saharan portion's lack of revelations come from a combination of diplomatic reticence and the average American

Still, Baker makes two salient points about the Western Sahara. After winning Polisario and Algerian acceptance for Baker II, a plan that gave Morocco much better terms than it deserved, Baker was shocked when Morocco rejected the plan. Though Baker and his co-author take pains to balance the Western Sahara section, it's clear that Moroccan intransigence doomed the Baker negotiations.

Second, Baker expresses sympathy with the Sahrawis both inside and outside the Western Sahara that have been marginalized by national power plays. While Baker isn't making an original point, what he's saying cannot be affirmed enough.

Who is this Will character?

Here's me (right) with Mohammed Abdelaziz, the president of the Western Sahara. To read the story of how I met him, click here.

Hi! My name's Will Sommer and I write One Hump or Two?. I started writing it in August 2006 because I discovered that Western Sahara had been occupied for 30 years and I knew nothing about it. Originally, I wrote the blog because I wanted to find more and hadn't decided which side I supported. Since then, I've become involved in promoting the Sahrawi right to self-determination.

Thanks for checking out my blog. I hope you enjoy it and become interested in the Western Sahara.

How Did the Western Sahara Seduce You?
This is an embarrassing story, but I'll tell you because I appreciate that you're reading my blog. I used to, and occasionally still do, play Superpower, a forum-based game where people pretend to be countries. One day, the Moroccan player posted about how well he was oppressing the Western Sahara.

I didn't know what he was talking about at the time, but a trip to Wikipedia later, I was slightly more informed and much more intrigued by the conflict and the Sahrawi people.

7 Things About Me
  • I'm a student at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.
  • I also write for The Georgetown Voice and its blog, Vox Populi.
  • I'm studying international politics and Arabic. Feel free to test my Arabic, but don't be surprised if I have no idea what you mean.
  • I lived in Dubai for 3 years and loved it, but I picked up absolutely no Arabic.
  • My favorite band is the Hold Steady, and my favorite book is Home Land.
  • I'm wild for the Western Sahara, and I also really like the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • I consider a referendum on Western Saharan independence the only fair resolution to the conflict.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Does a diplomatic solution lie with France or the United States?

I'm reading Endgame in the Western Sahara, by Toby Shelley. It's the most entertaining and readable book I've read about the Western Sahara (I've only read two, counting Roots of a Desert War, which I stopped reading when the pre-colonization part got boring).

The first chapter is about the relationship of world powers to Morocco, Algeria, and the Western Sahara. It's sad that because, if Shelley's right, Polisario could have won the war in the late 70's to early 80's if France and the United States hadn't given Morocco so much aid and weapons to shore up its faltering army, government, and economy. The two countries were motivated by complex desires, including larger Maghreb economic integration and keeping the entrance to the Mediterranean a Western ally.

I've long thought that if the United States gets serious with Morocco and withhold aid until a referendum is held, the Sahrawis have a good chance for independence.

In Endgame, though, Shelley makes a strong argument for France being the prime non-Maghreb mover in Western Saharan independence. France's veto of an otherwise unanimous UN Security Council vote calling for Morocco to better protect Sahrawi rights is one example, and French companies account for 24.3% of imports to Morocco (as of 2000).

While I still think the United States, as one of Morocco's most influential allies (and, if the term's still applicable, the remaining superpower) could cause great change in Morocco, there's much to be said for France. If a strong French divestment movement could get running, Morocco would have to pay attention.

Does anyone know of any French pro-Western Sahara groups? I know much of ARSO's in French, but it's based out of Switzerland.

Monday, November 20, 2006

No post today, and probably nothing too good this week

That probably doesn't inspire much confidence, but I'm going back to Houston for Thanksgiving, and you know they just don't let me blog in Houston.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Aminatou Haidar reception blow-out

The strawberries were delicious.

Certain Sahrawis are getting antsy for a recap and pictures from the Aminatou Haidar reception. They point out that I've promised them repeatedly, and it's been over two months. I say, "Seriously, guys, I was having camera problems." But they'll hear nothing of it.

Background: last September, the US-Western Sahara Foundation invited me to a reception they were holding for Sahrawi civil rights activist (and Amnesty prisoner of conscience) Aminatou Haidar. It was in a congressional office building, which made it even more delicious.

Deep in the bowels of the Rayburn office building, the reception was swinging when I arrived. The open bar didn't have alcohol, I think, but that was more than OK because of the SADR-American flag stickers (which will reappear on Western Sahara Day).

I met some lovely Western Sahara supporters, including Mikael Simble, the Washington representative of the Norwegian-Western Sahara Committee.

Suzanne Scholte, head of the Defense Forum Foundation and (along with Carlos Wilson) the US-Western Sahara Foundation, introduced Aminatou Haidar. She said that now, with tension between the Islamic world and the West is high, it was heartening to see "Muslims who represent so many good things."

Suzanne introduces Haidar, while a wine glass waits for its turn.

Aminatou Haidar gave an excellent speech about the need for US-Sahrawi cooperation if Sahrawi rights are to be protected. She said the United States should ask Morocco to respect human rights in the Western Sahara, and said Morocco has installed an "overwhelming police apparatus" to stifle dissent.

"It's time to put an end to this injustice against the Sahrawi people," she said in closing.

Aminatou Haidar and her translator.

After that, Congressman Donald Payne (D-NJ), who recently signed the letter supporting Aminatou Haidar, presented her with the 2006 Freedom Award.

"I am very inspired by your courage and your heroism. If people are oppressed everywhere, then people can be oppressed anywhere," he told Haidar. He also made a parallel to the Western Sahara and the South African colonization of Namibia, which I thought was astute.

Congressman Payne presenting the Freedom Award.

After that, it was a picture fest!

Suzanne Scholte and I. Classy lady, and not just because she has her nametag on the correct side of her jacket, which is more than I can say for my nametag. I like my tie.



Aminatou Haidar shows off her Freedom Award. She said she wouldn't run for president of Polisario (sorry, Sahara-Watch). I was disappointed too, but she was nice, and didn't even mention my red devil eyes.

I couldn't stay too long, because I had to get to a party in Rayburn's Boom Boom Room.

McDonald's is old school, and besides, the strawberries weren't that filling.

Hurray for Defense Forum for inviting me and holding an excellent event, and hurray for the nice like-minded people I met. Most of all, thanks to Aminatou Haidar for traveling so far and risking reprisals from the Moroccan government to tell us about the Western Sahara.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

US congressmen sign letter supporting Aminatou Haidar


Aminatou Haidar toured America and Europe in the past few months, raising awareness about the Western Sahara and Moroccan human rights abuses. It was a brave thing to do, considering she's been imprisoned for less, and the United States is a critical ally for Morocco. Worried that she'll face retribution when she returns to the Western Sahara, two US senators and 3 congressmen have signed a letter to Secretary of State Condolleeza Rice asking the State Department to monitor Haidar's status.

Dear Secretary Rice:

Recently, internationally known Saharawi human rights activist Aminatou Haidar visited the U.S. during an international tour to draw attention to the human rights violations occurring in Moroccan occupied Western Sahara. She has visited a number of countries and participated in an international conference on the future of Western Sahara.

On November 15th Ms. Haidar will return home to Western Sahara. We are concerned that the Moroccan government may detain her and confiscate her passport. Her safety and well being are at risk since only last year she was jailed for seven months during a peaceful demonstration.

We ask that the State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor and the U.S. Embassy in Rabat monitor the return of Ms. Haidar to Western Sahara and intervene with Moroccan Authorities if she is detained.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.


The letter was signed by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Representative Donald Payne (D-NJ), Representative Zach Wamp (R-TN), and Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). Leahy, Inhofe, and Wamp also signed this letter earlier supporting the Western Sahara. If you live in their districts, re-elect these good people.

I have a lot of free time tomorrow. I think I'll harass Speaker Pelosi's office for her position on the Western Sahara.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Moroccans say "Hands off my country," Sahrawis agree


Fnaire are a group of Moroccan rappers, and they're tremendous. I base my assessment on this song, "Makich Baladee," which translates roughly into "Hands off my country" or "Don't touch my country." The song was written in response to the 2003 terrorist attack in Casablanca, the largest act of terrorism in Morocco's history. Fnaire is effectively saying to North African terrorists Salafia Jihadia, "Don't touch my country."

The chorus is so catchy, I'd like this song even if King Hassan II himself wrote it. But there's a soft hypocrisy in Fnaire's message when you think about the country to Morocco's south that it will literally not get its hands off of.

In other news, I'm on top of the Google rankings for one hump or two, once again (take that, weird Answers in Genesis and American Handgunner). Plus, I'm loving the new tags feature.

Tonight the Georgetown branch of UNICEF is hosting a dinner. Each table has a different theme. I signed up for the refugees/orphans/displaced persons table, so I'll be eating with two experts on the issue and some interested students. I'll mention it if anything Western Sahara-related comes out of it.

Meaty post later today about Congress and the Western Sahara.

Waterfalls don't oppress Sahrawis

Sometimes I feel like I'm too down on Morocco. The people are nice, I think (they certainly were at the embassy), and it's never fair to blame an entire people for their government's actions. So in the spirit of reconciliation, look at this lovely Moroccan waterfall.

Morocco abandoning migrants on wrong side of the Berm

Many immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa, trying to reach Europe, pass through Morocco to the neighboring Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. Morocco is scrupulous in catching them, partly because it keeps Morocco immigration-suspicious France's good side.

It's been documented that Morocco doesn't repatriate all the apprehended immigrants; rather, they abandon them on the desolate eastern side of the Berm. This has been documented before, most recently in Amnesty International's 2006 Report: "They arrested some [migrants] and transported others to remote desert areas close to Morocco’s border with Algeria, where they were dumped without adequate water, food or shelter, reportedly resulting in further deaths."

So this is nothing new. What is delicious, though, is that I found proof of what's been talked about but never substantiated to me: that Polisario rescues the immigrants from almost certain death from land mines, exposure, or thirst.

This article in The Guardian describes a reporter's journey in 2005 with Polisario soldiers rescuing abandoned immigrants: "'The Africans came this way,' [a soldier] says and points to a nearby fold in the ground. 'There are mines there.'"

Why is Polisario doing this? Several reasons, I think. They're probably doing it because they don't want innocent people to die. It certainly makes great publicity, if only the world would hear about it. Or maybe Polisario just sympathizes with the migrants because they know what it's like when the world tries to forget you.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Dishy post coming later today

I'm behind the one post a weekend schedule, but it turns out Arabic's hard to learn (who knew?) and I've had to work on that. Upcoming, though: Moroccans, African migrants, and the Berm!

In the meantime, why not look at these pictures of the Berm that ARSO posted in the last post's most recent comments? There are those who say the Berm tipped the balance in the war for independence, hampering Polisario raiding and cutting off the Sahrawis in Tindouf from the Sahrawis in Western Sahara.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

I'm looking for the Berm on Google Earth

I haven't been able to find it. Hurray for whoever can find the Berm on Google Earth (It might be small, but I think it'll be possible to spot a line going through the whole Western Sahara). I can't even find a photograph online.

Friday, November 10, 2006

China interested in Western Sahara

On Monday, Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao committed his country to resolving the Western Sahara issue through the United Nations. While this might seem nice (the other major powers haven't done much), there are several worrisome parts in the article.

For one thing, Jiabao was meeting with Driss Jettou, Morocco's prime minister. I think that shows which partner they'll enter the diplomatic process supporting.

The rest of the article makes no reference of Polisario, SADR, or even the Sahrawis. It's as if China hopes to raise its international profile by resolving the crisis, but without giving the Sahrawis a seat the negotiating table. This is reminiscent of previous attempts to sideline SADR and deal with Algeria instead, which are meant to make it seem like an Algerian territorial grab and not an independence struggle.

The rest of the article is devoted to China's increasing economic ties with Morocco. Those might not be anything to worry about--China's throwing cash around everywhere in Africa. On the other hand, France is close to Morocco economically, and you can see what an effective advocates for the Sahrawis it's been.

Overall, I find China's potential entrance into the process worrisome, especially considering China's support for human rights violators elsewhere in Africa. But it might be the kind of impetus older world powers need to realize they are responsible for the continuing tragedy in Tindouf.

My name in Arabic means "great tragedy": confirm/deny?

I spell my name waaw, yaa, laam.

Several things, some Western Sahara related and some just blog favor-paying.
  • I'm going to see how many posts I can put out in the next hour, as I slacked a little at the end of the week.
  • I've been more up-to-date on the Western Sahara, for two reasons. You guys are linking me to great articles. Please keep doing this, as it keeps the blog fresh, and it keeps us in touch. The other thing I've done is signed up for Google Alerts, which send me an email aggregating the Western Sahara blog posts and news items of the previous day. If you're worried it won't work well and you'll get irrelevant stuff, don't be; there's some stuff that has nothing to do with Western Sahara, but usually it's a good way to keep up with parts of the internet you wouldn't normally look in.
  • Long-time commenter Studentintheus has started his own Western Sahara blog, Sahara-Views. I especially liked his post on the Guerra Olvidada, a war in the north of Western Sahara where Sahrawis and Moroccans fought side-by-side.
  • Respectable young woman and Western Saharan fan artist Kate became an intern on music blog Idolator today. While this doesn't have much to do with the Western Sahara, Kate was the first person to link to me, so I owe her. Also, Idolator's a good, frequently-updated read regardless of how you feel about Mohammed VI (he's bad).

Even Casablanca and metereologists know the Western Sahara deserves independence


Time for another installment of Even ____ Knows the Western Sahara Deserves Independence. Today we have two winners, Casablanca and my Arabic class DVD.

I watched Casablanca in my class about World War II today. The opening credits are superimposed over a map of Africa. The movie itself takes place in Morocco. Below Morocco on the map, the Western Sahara is clearly demarcated as a separate territory.

The movie was filmed in 1942, 14 years before the first wave of African decolonization and 33 years before the Madrid Accords and Spain. Casablanca’s director, Michael Curtiz, could have been a Greater Moroccan ideologue and it still wouldn’t have made sense to take away Western Sahara’s borders at the time. So while the map isn’t a powerful pro-Sahrawi statement, it recalls a time when everyone who knew where Spanish Sahara was accepted it as a territory separate from Morocco.

The more legitimate, but less famous winner today is the DVD included with my Arabic textbook. The DVD contains some Arab weather reports, including one that can't be more than a few years old. In one, a forecast on the entire Middle East-North African community, there’s a demarcation line between Western Sahara and Morocco.

I hope today’s winners are proud. I’m proud of them for making sure people don’t stop asking about that parallelogram on the west African coast.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Once again, what do you call a Western Sahara referendum organization?

I'm on a quasi-secret newspaper assignment tonight, so I can't make a quality post until later tonight (it involves China), but here's something to chew on. I've wondered what to call the Western Sahara group that needs to be started to combine our efforts and further dignify the cause, but I'm reading in my Eritrea book that an organization's letterhead makes any letter to a politician more impressive.

That means, while major organizational stuff will wait until this summer, I should get a name so I can send letters. Points for pronounceable acronyms.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Polisario has beef with Elliott Abrams

Deservedly so, it would seem. Sahara-Watch busted out Saturday with a great post about Abrams, in charge of Near East and North Africa for the Bush National Security Council. Sahara-Watch does a better job of explaining, in detail, why Abrams is probably to blame for sabotaging the Western Saharan peace process. I'll review the main points.

-Abrams worked in the Reagan administration when it aided King Hassan of Morocco's occupation.

-He has a longstanding distaste for leftist causes, to the point of covering up El Salvadoran massacres of civilians. Since Morocco painted Polisario as Marxists (just as they're trying to use today's bugaboo, terrorism, to alienate potential Sahrawi supporters), there is little love lost between the Western Sahara and Abrams.

-He met with a Moroccan autonomy plan spokesman, lending the proposal much more credibility than it deserves.

Abrams was one of the top neocons rah-rahing the invasion of Iraq, working closely with Richard Perle and writing a letter to Bill Clinton calling for regime change. It's not a far leap to think he'd support any Arab client state, including Morocco, that asked for a little lenience on its own human rights issues in exchange for taking care of some of America's.

Speaking of which, this isn't related to Abrams but Sahara-Watch points it out in the post and it bears mentioning: Morocco is classified as a major non-NATO ally of the United States, which means our defense commitment to them is the same as to Japan or Australia. Shoot.

Abrams is a bad guy, but whether he's sabotaging the referendum process or not, the United States needs to answer for why it has been so reticent on the Western Sahara when there is so much to gain and practically nothing to lose. Morocco, practically an American (and French) proxy state, can't afford to lose Western support. So why don't we apply the right pressure?

Finally, I think it's compelling how much of the who-supports-Polisario guessing game that some people play revolves around famous friendships. Check out Chasli's comment on the post, and his speculation about whether John Bolton, a supposed Western Sahara supporter, could reconcile the disparate views of his friends James Baker (negotiator of the Baker II) and Abrams.

Some day, I will learn how to do jumps for long posts. Until then, though, let's hope that pro-Sahrawi congressional candidates are sent to Washington.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Mahmood's Den unblocked

In non-Western Sahara but nonetheless freedom-related news, Mahmood's Den, which was blocked last week by the Bahraini government, has been unblocked. It's good to see that democracy-loving Bahrainis won't have to finagle Anonymizer, and know that Mahmood's freedom of speech won't be curtailed anytime soon.

Treating Eritrea right

In my continuing efforts to prove college doesn't preclude pleasure reading, I’m reading Michela Wrong’s book about the Eritrean struggle for independence, I Didn’t Do It for You. I liked her last book, In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz, about Congolese dictator (and friend of Morocco) Joseph Mobutu, so I figured I’d like more of her writing about Africa.

This has to do with your own favorite African independence struggle because Eritrea, like East Timor, is something of a blueprint we can follow to work for Western Saharan independence.

Like the Western Sahara, Eritrea was annexed, with international collusion, by a stronger neighbor. Also like the Western Sahara, the Eritreans fought a decades-long struggle for their independence. Their paths diverged in 1991, when Eritrea won its freedom from Ethiopia.

But while Eritreans are trading Kalashnikovs for constitutions, they haven’t forgotten their friends outside Africa. Next time you get down about the Western Sahara because you’re being hassled about pre-colonial borders or general public apathy, think about how foreign supporters of Eritrea’s revolution were treated after it became independent. In this passage, Wrong calls supportive foreigners “True Believers.”

“The rebels-turned-ministers had grasped a vital truth. True Believers are worth a hundred spokesmen to guerrilla organizations and the cash-strapped governments they go on to form. Sharing the religious convert’s belligerent frustration with those who have not seen the light, quicker than the locals to detect a slight, they are tireless in defending the cause…They had remained loyal during the hard times and now reveled in the sight of their old friends, once regarded as tiresome nuisances by Western governments, holding executive power on both sides of the border.”

That’s a heartening passage, even if Eritrea’s current government is too corrupt and dictatorial to retain many “True Believers”. I’ll mention if anything else in the book has relevance to the Western Sahara.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

We're just mixed-up kids who distrust the autonomy plan


It's a heady autumn on the internet for Western Saharan independence advocates. But for those of you who haven't been following the adventures of the best Facebook group devoted to Sahrawi independence, a recap.

Facebook is a college social networking site that's comparable to Myspace, to give you a frame of reference. It's mainly used to ogle people, but you can also create political groups. A friend of mine made a group devoted to Western Saharan independence as a 2006 campaign issue and made me an administrator, and I've been delighted ever since. The group started small, but it's gained momentum and now has 98 members. Here thanks has to be given to David Dragoset, a student at University of Texas-Dallas and an excellent bowler, who invited everyone he knows and several people he doesn't. David, there's a dune with your name on it outside El-Ayoun.

Our youthful independence-agitation had only started, though, before we were hassled by our mortal enemies: pro-Moroccan occupation college students (?). They came on with what were initially some soft arguments ("Who cares about the Western Sahara?", "US citizens are in no position to criticize Morocco when their government has invaded Iraq").

Eventually, they straightened up and produced some good stuff, though. For example, can someone explain to me about Abdelaziz's Moroccan origin? It doesn't matter whether he's from El-Ayoun, Marrakech, or Mars as far the struggle's legitimacy is concerned, but I'd like to know how he ended up in charge of Polisario.

The problem with pro-Moroccan arguments is how fundamentally flimsy they are. The most powerful one, for me, is the vague claim about the Alouwite tribe, and that's only because I haven't read much about the regions pre-colonial history. The fact that they have to resort to that irredentism, though, demonstrates how weak their other claims are. I mean, some people were peddling the Sahrawi children sold to Cuba story so popular with the Moroccan-American Center for Policy. I feel like by now that's been reduced to the level of an old-wives' tale.

This post feels self-involved, but I think I just wanted to assure the older members of the independence community that people my age know and care about Sahrawi independence. If you haven't yet, join the group on Facebook. Because of recent changes, you don't have to be in college, or even high school, to get an account.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The people at Sandblast do good work

Sandblast is an organization that tries to raise awareness of the Western Sahara through art. They work out of England, and they're running a festival from May 5th to 7th next year (make your plans now).

Sandblast has the best web design I've seen since Homeland, once again showing independence advocates are better at HTML than Morocco. The website has paintings and poetry about Sahrawi life and culture.

The photography is my favorite part of the site. Sandblast features work from both international and Sahrawi photographers, as well as group projects. One of the projects is a powerful series on Sahrawis mutilated by landmines.

By displaying Sahrawi art, Sandblast demonstrates that the Sahrawis are more than pawns in a war between Algeria and Morocco, or statistics in a UNHCR report.