Violeta Ayala and Daniel Fallshaw, Australians working on The Wall of Shame, a documentary about the Western Sahara and the refugee camps, were filming in Tindouf. Then, things got weird.
According to a statement Fallshaw and Ayala released through Wall's producer Zom Zubrycki in this article about the possible detainments, Polisario officials were angry that they were filming about race issues in the camps:
"The Polisario began to believe we were straying from the focus of our film, that of family separation and giving too much attention to Fetim's (a key protagonist) black extended family and friends"
After that, Polisario held them for a few hours and only released them after negotiations in front of MINURSO. Presuming that this is all true, Polisario should apologize for hassling people who seem to be pro-self-determination.
And about the earlier report that the film Ayala and Fallshaw are working on is about slavery:
"That's a real distortion," [Tom Zubrycki] said. "There could be an element of slavery ... but that is part of a bigger film but not part of the main story." (Emphasis mine)What? If there is slavery in the camps, let's hear about it whether or not it's the documentary's focus. What is Zubrycki being so cagey about?
As for how this story got distorted by the media, One Hump commenters have some ideas. One anonymous commenter suggests that Moroccan security forces are working inside the camps, and it was them who harassed Ayala and Fallshaw. That seems about as likely as Morocco's child slavery in Cuba slavery. Instead of blaming Morocco for all of Polisario's bad press, let's hold them accountable so that someday the Front will deserve its claim to represent Sahrawis.
Also worth checking out: another anonymous commenter who claims to know Ayala complains about her behavior with Polisario. Translation nicely done by Justin Anthony Knapp.
With luck, things will become clearer as Wall of Shame's release date nears. I'm glad the journalists weren't held for long in Tindouf, if they were held at all, both for their sakes and the public relations disaster SADR avoided. I still want to know what the deal is with slavery.