Monday, May 07, 2007

Scandinavia moves closer to recognizing Western Sahara

Each diplomatic recognition the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic receives moves Western Sahara closer to self-determination. That's why it's so exciting that European countries, none of which has recognized SADR, are being pressured by some liberal parties, according to this Afrol News article.

The European Liberal Youth, an organization with 250,000 members in 37 European countries, passed a resolution in April at its congress calling for Western Saharan recognition. With luck, this youth group can convince the liberal parties in power in their respective countries to support SADR, or at least stop arming Morocco.

Norway's also involved, naturally:
Nevertheless, the Norwegian Labour Party demanded the Sahrawi people were given the right to decide on independence in a referendum and condemned the Moroccan human rights violations in the "annexed territory", which the UN peacekeepers there should get a widened mandate to supervise. Together with the Socialist Left, the party agreed to work actively against trade with goods emanating from Western Sahara "until there is a solution to the conflict."
Sweden and Denmark are also moving closer to recognition, with Sweden irritated by the EU fishing agreement. Interestingly, the article says the recent EU-Morocco fishing agreement may have garnered Western Sahara more supporters in Europe.

If this article is accurate, it looks like very good news for the Western Sahara. As the writer says, "The heat is slowly being turned up on Morocco."

In other European activism news, ARSO's indispensable fortnightly Western Sahara news update now includes a Best of Blogs round-up. This week: Western Sahara Info's post analyzing the UNSC resolution, Inner City Press's article about the Polisario blackout at the UNSC, and my very own post about the resolution. This is a great idea on ARSO's part because it draws attention to the vibrant online Western Sahara scene and makes me work harder to get on it.


  1. The guy in the picture was the head of the House of Lords in the UK. Europe is crazy!

  2. Anonymous10:04 AM

    Aus journos detained in Algeria
    07/05/2007 11:01 - (SA)

    Two Australian journalists who were making a documentary on slavery in refugee camps in northwest Africa were briefly detained in Algeria by separatists, said an official today.

    The pair were released unharmed by the Algerian-backed Polisario Front, an independence movement fighting for self-rule of disputed Western Sahara, annexed by Morocco in the 1970s, said a foreign ministry spokesperson.

    "We are aware that two Australian journalists who were making a documentary in the Western Sahara, in the border area between Algeria and Mauritania, have encountered difficulties with the Polisario Front," he said.

    "But they left the area by commercial flight on Sunday and we understand they are now in Paris, but we are awaiting confirmation on that," said the spokesperson.

    The department would not confirm the names of the pair, but local reports said they were Sydney-based independent filmmakers Violeta Ayala and Daniel Fallshaw.

    The pair were detained after it emerged they were making a documentary about slavery and racism in refugee camps run by the Polisario Front in southwestern Algeria, reports said.

    Australia does not maintain an embassy in Algeria but its embassy in Paris "made vigorous representations to the relevant authorities to seek their release", said the ministry spokesperson.

    Australians are strongly advised not to travel to Western Sahara due to the risk of landmines and terrorist attacks.

    Morocco annexed the desolate but phosphate-rich Western Sahara after the withdrawal of the region’s former colonial power Spain and neighbour Mauritania in the 1970s.

    A war ensued with the armed Polisario Front, which was set up in 1973 and established itself as the sole representative of the nomadic Saharan or Sahrawi people.

    The conflict ended in 1991 with a UN-brokered ceasefire but the question of self-determination has not yet been settled.


  3. Hm. That doesn't sound good. What does the Sapa-AFP stand for?

    Also, are these the AWSA guys?

  4. Anonymous11:10 AM

    South African Press Association. No MAP here.

  5. Anonymous11:20 AM

    I guess they derived a little bit from what Polisario was expecting them to do !

  6. Anonymous11:33 AM

    Le Maroc, zero points

    The honeymoon has been over in Morocco for some time, but now the M6 reform project is starting to draw fire from abroad too. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has listed the world's ten worst "press freedom backsliders", meaning the states where press freedom has deteriorated the most lately. Morocco figures at number nine, one placement above post-coup Thailand. Says the CPJ:

    9. MOROCCO
    Leader: King Mohammed VI
    Indicators: Morocco joins Tunisia as Arab world’s leading jailer of journalists, with three sentenced to prison terms. Authorities banish three top journalists through politically motivated lawsuits. State media and government incite protests against independent press.
    Key fact: Editor Ali Lmrabet barred from profession for 10 years.
    Even then, they forget to mention the (brief) banning of al-Nichane, the expulsions and arrests of foreign correspondents, the confiscation of non-Moroccan newspapers, police beatings of television crews, the shady new press law, and other attempts to keep Moroccans on the makhzen kool-aid. And as I mentioned, its not much more encouraging in Algeria -- not wanting to be outdone by the arch-rival, Bouteflika has also decided to turn up the heat on his dissident journalists. Good thing we have Mauritania.


  7. Anonymous11:37 AM


    Repression and arrests of peaceful demonstrators in the occupied cities of Western Sahara

    Boujdour (occupied territories), 28/04/2007 (SPS) The Moroccan forces of repression savagely repressed on Friday in Boujador Saharawi peaceful demonstrations, which "reject the autonomy plan presented by Morocco and claim for the immediate withdrawal of the Moroccan occupation from Western Sahara", indicated a source from the Saharawi Ministry of Occupied Territories and Communities.

    The same forces of occupation brutally intervened to disperse demonstrators and arrested the young Saharawis, Dlimi Khaled, Mohamed Lamine Zamit and Tayeb Jerfaoui, the same source indicated.

    The victims were released later in a very bad state after they were tortured inside Boujdour’s police station, the same source added, saying that the prents of Tayeb Jerfaoui were threatened and intimidated by the Moroccan forces of occupation.

    In the same city, the Moroccan authorities interpellated the Saharawi students, Salami Aleyat, Khaya Khaya, Zaza Sidiiya, Bachir Lameidi and Khaya, and arrested the student Bouta Kaya.

    In the city of Dakhla, the Saharawi national flags were raised in different neighbourhoods besides of tracts asking for the Saharawi people’s right to self-determination.

    On another hand, the ex-Saharawi political prisoner, El Bellaoui Hamadi, started a hunger strike since last Wednesday in front of the seat of the Moroccan Parliament in Rabat. He wrote in a placard "no to the extermination, no to immigration, yes to independence". (SPS)

    080/090/TRD 281245 AVR 07 SPS

  8. Anonymous11:40 AM

    you can see the last very badly tortured Saharawis students In The Moroccan Universities of Agadir and Marekesh in south Morocco

  9. Anonymous11:40 AM

    Polisario has been profiting for a while from communicating about some of Morocco's violations of human rights and restrictions on press freedom. However, a thorough analysis of the Front itself will reveal that it doesn't tolerate any strong opposing Sahrawi voice. Even now, when Polisario has control only on the camps in Algeria, The Front considers sahrawis who are loyal to Morocco as TRAITORS.
    The current restrictions of pro-polisario activities in Morocco will look as a joke comparing to what polisario may do to longtime pro-morocco Sahrawis if the Front rules one day on the Sahara.

  10. Anonymous11:48 AM

    Regarding the Sahrawis students in Marrakech, what the commenter omit to say, and that's the most important, is why the police intervened against these individuals. Let me tell you some of the reasons: because of their famous disorderly conduct at the campus. These students are very well known for trying to break university rules with the pretext that they are from the Sahara. The law applies to everyone whether from the Sahara or not.

  11. The two Australians detained were working on the Wall of Shame video.

    Judging from everything else I've read about the Wall of Shame, I doubt it's about "slavery" in the camps. That is, unless they discovered something while filming.

  12. Anonymous2:11 PM

    Hi Will, why should you and the others feel obliged to shy away from talking about slavery in the camps? History as well as more contemporary international reports tell us that this practice existed and apparently still does. Instead of shying away I'd expect you to condemn this practice despite your platonic love with the polisario. As for the students in the universities, those guys went destroying stuff paid for by our taxpayer's money. Stopping that movement is nothing but an act of LAW ENFORCEMENT. Now if you expect the Moroccan police to take a step back and watch then you have to specify what we're talking about here in this blog.
    El Tiburon

  13. I haven't responded to the slavery claim for two reasons. First, the detainment report was of dubious authenticity. Second, I haven't seen any proof that there is slavery in the camps. In fact, until now I've never heard of it even from MAP or my beloved MarocPost. As usual, any such evidence is welcome.

    Can I get an out on the protesting student stuff? I haven't had a chance to look at it yet, but I will as soon as finals are over.

    And I assure you, my love for Polisario is much more than platonic.