Friday, April 20, 2007

Moroccan increases assaults on Sahrawi activists

It sounds like Morocco is going crazy in Western Sahara this month. I'd expect Morocco to play it cool until the autonomy plan is passed or rejected, but maybe the competing plans have excited the Sahrawis so much Morocco has to respond.

Western Sahara Info, the Norwegian Support Committee for the Western Sahara, and ASVDH (a Sahrawi human rights group) have extensive coverage of this recent outbreak of repression that's hitting Sahrawis, especially youths. Here's what's happening:
  • Morocco arrested 3 young Sahrawis aged 13 and 14 after pro-independence demonstrations in El-Aiun. According to ASVDH, Morocco also tortured a 14 year-old boy. Seriously?
  • Mohammed Tahlil, the Boujdour ASVDH representative, was beaten by security forces in El-Aiun.
  • Amadayne el-Ouali, a 21 year-old Sahrawi active in the independence movement, was sentenced to 5 years in prison. Check out Western Sahara Info's highly-recommended profile of Amadayne. On the plus side, I think I have a crush on his self-determination- loving sister.
Can someone explain to me why MINURSO isn't getting a human rights component this renewal? [Kudos to Western Sahara Info for tipping me off to this latest wave of repression].


  1. Will,
    My sources tell me that's simply because France would veto it, and France is the one not allowing the official release of UN's OHCHR report on Western Sahara:

    Wouldn't be nice to have a friend like France? Especially if one is a guy like Mobutu, or Hassan II...

  2. yeah, well, what he said.

    here's from a reuters report on the last SC session:

    UN shuns W. Sahara rights plea after France objects

    UNITED NATIONS, Oct 31 (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council voted on Tuesday to keep U.N. peacekeepers in Western Sahara for six more months but shunned a plea that Morocco do more to safeguard human rights in the territory after France objected.

    A resolution adopted unanimously by the 15-nation council proposed no new substantive steps for resolving Africa's oldest territorial dispute, instead simply reaffirming the U.N. body's support for a solution that would "provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara."

    Diplomats said 14 of the council's 15 members backed adding a provision to the resolution expressing concern about human rights violations by Morocco in the northwest African territory of some 260,000 people.

    But France, a close ally of Morocco, pushed hard to keep it out of the text.

  3. Anonymous7:02 AM

    Hi Will

    The young man who his photo figured here is one of the saharawis activists In the Occupied WS
    You can not imagine that all Amydane Family are tortured /and/violated by Moroccan police even the 91 yrs old grand-father and the young baby ( their pics are going around in the net)

    UN did a human report in the Refugees camps and occupied WS but they cant release it because of the veto of France in favor of Morocco of course

    Polisario and some of their allies in UN like South Africa but they failed against France veto NO NO NO

    President Chirac ( tomorrow will be President elections there) is the best friend of the Moroccan Royal Family .... investing a lot of money in Morocco …. He have long personnel relationship with Lala Mariam. The old sister of King M6 of Morocco as independant morrocan newpapers said

  4. Anonymous11:14 AM


    The repression against the Saharawi people and the violation of its rights in debate in the European Parliament

    Brussels, 19/04/2007 (SPS) The European Parliament organised on Tuesday a debate on the human rights violations in the occupied territories of the Western Sahara and on the sovereignty of the Saharawi people over the natural resources of its territory and the European Union’s illegal fishing agreement with Morocco.

    The seminar was organised with the presence of European Parliamentarians, jurists, representatives of European associations of support to the Saharawi people and journalists.

    Law Professor, Jaume Saura-Estapa, from the University of Barcelona developed a juridical argumentation on the exploitation of the fishing resources of the Non-Self-Governing territory, stressing that the Saharawi people have the exclusive sovereignty on such resources.

    Many testimonies, especially the testimony of the vice-President of the Saharawi Association of the Flagrant Human Rights Violations Committed by the Moroccan State, Mrs. Elghalia Djimi, as well as the testimonies of the Moroccan journalist, Ali Lamrabet and the Swedish journalist, Lars Bjork, presented to the audience a clear idea about the situation of the human rights in the occupied territories of the Western Sahara. (SPS)

    020/090/700/TRD 191050 AVR 07 SPS

  5. Anonymous12:37 PM

    Conferencia Universidad de California. Los Angeles, UCLA. “The Children of the Sandstorms. Contemporary West Saharan Poets: The Friendship Generation”

    12:00 PM
    International Institute African Studies Center
    6275 Bunche Hall
    University of California, Los Angeles UCLA

  6. This has just become a higgley-piggly Western Sahara news fest. I like it!

    France is always causing problems. Forget their supposed inability to win wars and their short work week--people who don't like the French should be focusing on their shameful protection of Morocco and, far more seriously, the Hutus that ran Rwanda. I mean, at one point during the genocide France set up the Zone Turquoise to protect genocidal Rwandan soldiers.

    Any chance that the new candidates for French president will change the country's tone towards Morocco and SADR?

  7. Well, almost anyone would be less super-partisan than Chirac. As Anonymous above mentioned, he has long standing personal ties to the Moroccan royal family, and I don't think the alliance has ever been closer. On foreign policy, Sarkozy says he'll draw closer to the US, which could be significant (if, say, the US makes another Baker push just to get rid of the issue); Royal doesn't say much at all, but she's from the left, which should mean at least some sort of shakeup of policy; Bayrou, no clue.

    Ultimately, I don't think one should expect any meaningful change. France has a lot to gain by being Morocco's most reliable ally, and it is the best way they can compete with US influence. And they stand very little to lose, as long as they can count on the Minurso/ceasefire status quo to be upheld. Being badmouthed on blogs seems to be a cost they're willing to bear.

  8. Haoula4:58 PM

    Will, Alle and Anonymous...

    Remember: France said no to Bush's war against Irak!...Do you mean by that, that Abdelaziz and Bouteflika are greater democrats than Chirac, Sarkozy or even Mitterand?!!!

    Don't forget that UNCHR report was biased: the members of the UN didn't talk about the human rights abuses of the Polisario in Tinduf.

    They were free to move in morocco, but didn't have the same right in Tinduf, which is an Algerian City!
    God, it's so frustrating.
    The Polisario propaganda is killing your credibility Will.


  9. The point, Haoula, is that there is a very easy democratic way to prove who is right about all this and that is to hold a referendum on independence or inclusion in Morocco. It seems to me that the side that refuses to hold that referendum is admitting that it is wrong.

  10. Haoula, I'm not blind to the sometimes sizable gap between Polisario's intentions and its actions. For example, I've criticized some of President Abdelaziz's actions, and the only vote I want more than a free and fair referendum in Western Sahara is a free and fair election of a new SADR president.

    Still, that doesn't mean I'll pretend the two sides are morally equal. You're right the UN report we're talking about says the commission couldn't meet with Sahrawis not associated with Polisario. I think that's a result of Polisario's overwhelming influence in camp life, though, not the consequence of deliberate Polisario obfuscation.

    Speaking of access to the UN, people who have been to the Western Sahara insist Morocco is preventing Sahrawis from visiting MINURSO offices. Toby Shelley, Frank Ruddy, and others say MINURSO offices are watched by Moroccan agents and Sahrawis are intimidated into silence.

    Also, I don't think anyone's saying Chirac, Sarkozy, or Royal are less democratic than Abdelaziz, Bouteflika, or for that matter Mohammed VI. Chirac, after all, is actually allowing an election.

  11. Haoula -- No, I certainly don't think Abdelaziz Bouteflika is a greater democrat than Chirac. I don't think he's a democrat at all. What makes you think otherwise?

    As for the remaining French candidates, Sarkozy supported the war on Iraq, and Royal opposed it. On that, I agree with Royal, but I don't think it makes Sarkozy less of a democrat (while his subtle anti-Arab racism possibly does).

    On the UN report, they did not visit Tindouf, the city, but the Sahrawi-run camps south of it. They did not complain about not being allowed to move freely, or meet other than pro-Polisario Sahrawis, they just said, matter of factly, that they didn't. Same in El AaiĂșn, where they stayed in a hotel for the whole trip -- Polisario was foaming at the mouth with anger that the commission didn't go out to find Sahrawi dissenters who couldn't come there.

    If you're going to criticise others for having misinterpreted the report, I suggest you read it yourself first. There is a link to the original PDF scan in the first comment in this thread, by WSO.

  12. Anonymous2:47 PM

    Dear Haoula

    It look that you also is under “Mekhzen” propaganda

    Will, in his blog criticized Polisario and His Leader. We also did but WE ARE SURE THAT NO BODY IN MORROCO CAN DO THE SAME AND CRITICIZE THE ROYAL FAMILY OR THE “MEKHZEN” REGIM. Believe me no body. One journalist called Lamrabet did and he is now in exile in Spain. One newspaper called “ Nichane” make simple jokes and they are closed….and more

    In other hands. Polisario changed ..this is not the Polisario of 70 –s . people in the refugees camps can directly and publicly criticized the Polisario leaders ( and this is not Polisario propaganda). I have a chance to be in one of Polisario meeting. I saw women and students criticizing Mr Abdelaziz himself. Also for doing nothing for Saharawis….
    You can see one of the online newspapers criticizing Polisario and his leaders. and most of these young people are living in the refugees camps and their families too :

    Before all. We are talking about the Sahrawis in both Side. Those under Morocan regime occupation in Western Sahara and the others living in very difficult conditions in the refugees camps ( also because of Morrocon regime who make them leave their homes in the middle of 70-s…. There is no propaganda here just human sweetheart

    UN Human Rights inspectors visited Refugees camps and they also criticized Polsario but not for human rights violation like Morocco did in WS (an official copy of this report you can find in the net )
    Morroco don’t allow them even to meet Saharawi activists in Al-Aiun

    The refugees camps are now open for “any” who want to visit them. I saw there hundreds of Spanish and other foreigners but the Part of WS under morrocan occupation is “closed” . 8 official European Parliaments are returned home. Journalists also…why morrocans are afraid?

    In the end. Saharawis and moroccans have to find solution to the WS issue which guarantee saharawi dignity / sovereignty and “ moroccan interests “ there