Friday, August 31, 2007

Frederick Vreeland doesn't just ignore conflicts of interest with Morocco

Today, a belated birthday treat for Ronny Hansen of the Norwegian Western Sahara Foundation:

Some time ago, Frederick Vreeland, a former US ambassador to Morocco, wrote an op-ed in The New York Times about how much he loved the autonomy plan. He didn't mention that he runs NoorWeb, a company that depends on solar panel contracts from Morocco. His opinions on autonomy didn't necessarily get him contracts, but they didn't hurt. The Times ran a correction soon after.

Judging from Fredo's profile, this isn't the first time he's juggled conflicting interests. Check out his review of his mother's book, Why Don't You...?:
DV represented an era olf fashion that will never return.
Other books about DV focus on the Vogue years, but that came later.This book gives a clear picture of how the Czarina of Fashion started and what were early signs of genius.
Frederick! Just like it isn't credible when your mother told you you were the best ambassador in the diplomatic corps, it's not trustworthy when you vouch for her.

Also, Fred likes Janis Joplin.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Comment of the week, Oceania edition

Frequent commenter Desertman wins this Comment of the Week by demonstrating I'm not the only one who can compare Western Sahara to art. He's written a good analogy between Western Sahara and 1984, a book I must admit I've never read (shame of my life!)
In Western Sahara is like in the world of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four,
The Party which controls Oceania ( OCCUPIED WESTERN SAHARA) is split into two halves: the Inner Party (CORCAS ) and the Outer Party ( MOROCCAN AUTHORITY ). The Inner Party regulates Ingsoc.( MARROY)
The Inner Party represents the aristocratic political class (CORCAS and their associates) in Oceania (OCCUPIED WESTERN SAHARA) , and has its membership restricted to 0.000014 million individuals (about 0.0014% of the population). Inner Party members enjoy a quality of life that is much better than that of the proles ( REAL SAHARAWIS) or Outer Party members ( MOROCCAN SETTLERS) . For example,
the telescreens (two-way televisions used for propaganda and surveillance purposes LAAYOUNE TV AND 2M CHANNEL) in their homes can ( NOT) be turned off. They also have access to spacious living quarters, personal servants, convenient transportation, and relatively pleasant food and drink (in contrast to the poor quality Victory Gin and Victory Cigarettes, which were not manufactured properly, of the outer Party). Inner Party members are always identified by their black coveralls ( NOT DARAAA). Members are selected at a young age (OLD AGE – SHEIKS) according to a battery of tests ( LOYALITY TO….), and (not ) family heritage, as any loyalty to anything other than Ingsoc ) (MARROY) and Big Brother ( WE KNOW HIM …) , including the family, is strongly discouraged. Race is also of (no) importance in selecting members.
In the novel( REALITY) , O'Brien ( OULD RACHID / LAYOUNE GOVERNOR) is the only character met who is a member of the Inner Party.
In Western Sahara now
War is peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is strength
("all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others"

All Saharawis in WS have to keep attention because “ big brother is watching you”
Will Desertman's latest honor mean the reappearance of Desertgirl? I hope so!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Norwegian youth staying with the Amidanes detained

Moroccan police in Western Sahara love to harass two groups: the Sahrawi Amidane family, and Norwegians. It was a happy day for them, then, when they discovered them both in the same place. Last week, two Norwegian youth politicians staying with the Amidanes were arrested and interrogated by Moroccan police.

Kamilla Eidsvik and Andrea Gustavsson, the arrested girls, are members of a socialist youth party in Norway (even though one of them is Swedish). They were on the street in El Aiaun when they saw Moroccan security forces raid a house. As you might've noticed at this point, Morocco isn't thrilled when outsiders visit Western Sahara to see if it's treating the Sahrawis as well as it claims. The girls were bundled into an armored car and held for two hours. Since they were going to leave Western Sahara anyway, they weren't expelled.

This isn't going to help the Amidane family, whose imprisoned son El-Ouali is already a cause celebre amongst Western Saharan activists. Their daughter Rabab (pictured with the Scandinavian women) has been beaten by Moroccan police and recently visited Norway to garner support for Western Sahara.

The event gives lie to Morocco's claim that it's treating Sahrawis well. Why would Morocco arrest young, foreign women just for being near a raid unless that raid was unlawful? I'd like to see Morocco's henchmen claim the young women presented a security risk.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Take it easy, but take it: what union songs teach us about Western Sahara

I had a union summer. Between an attempt to read A People's History of the United States, Netflixing Roger & Me, and constantly listening to an anthology of labor songs I was convinced that unions have balanced against rapacious capitalists throughout American history, and will continue to do so, even if they're getting a bit rapacious themselves.

None of that can happen, though, if people aren't excited, organized, or skilled enough to work for their rights. That's why I think the Western Sahara community can glean some lessons from the U.S. labor movement, as depicted in songs from Smithsonian Folkway's anthology Classic Labor Songs.

  • "Joe Hill" performed by Paul Robeson--Paul Robeson would've been a more admirable if he hadn't covered up the Soviet Union's treatment of Jews. The real treat in this song is the man it's about, Joe Hill, a Swedish labor organizer and folk singer who was framed for murder and executed. Before he died, Hill sent a message to another International Worker of the World that only said "Don't any time mourning. Organize!" Ban on mourning aside, that's advice to take to heart for any popular struggle, especially one that's seen as many deaths as the Western Sahara.
  • "One Day More" performed by Elaine Purkey--"If the company holds out twenty years, we'll hold out one day more." The occupation of Western Sahara has gone longer than twenty years, but "one day more" is exactly the attitude Sahrawis should have as Morocco tries to wear down their commitment with an armory of methods, from getting Cape Verde to withdraw its recognition from SADR to hiring CORCAS stooges.
  • "Talking Union" performed by the Almanac Singers--The most important lyrics in this song come at the end: "If you don't let red baiting break you up, and if you don't let stool pigeons break you up, and if you don't let vigilantes break you up, and if you don't let race hatred break you up, you'll win!" You can keep red baiting and replace the rest with CORCAS members, gangs of Moroccan settlers, and tribal enmities, respectively. The result is perfect advice for Sahrawis in Western Sahara or in Tindouf waiting for a resolution.
At the end of "Talking Union" the singer says, "What I mean is take it easy, but take it!" Let's keep that attitude of fun-but-dead-serious revolution.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Notorious bastard Driss Basri is dead

Driss Basri, King Hassan II's Interior Minister and the man behind most of the repression in Western Sahara and Morocco's Years of Lead is dead in Paris at 69. He died in Paris because even Mohammed VI found him too repulsive and forced him into exile.

Driss Basri lived to be 69. Here are some people he didn't give that chance:
  • Hamdi Lembarki
  • Sahrawi refugees the Moroccan air force dropped napalm on
  • Mehdi Ben Barka, an anti-colonial Moroccan politician killed during the Years of Lead
Maybe someone will go on TV and Hitchens-Falwell him. He deserves it.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

CNN presents the Sanjay Gupta of Western Sahara, but at least they're talking about it

CNN recently ran a pretty good report on Western Sahara. Anna Theofilopoulou makes an appearance, and it's not as unbalanced as The Washington Times. We even get shots of the famed Greentree Estate. Still, there were some issues.
  • Morocco and Mauritania fought each other over Western Sahara? I seem to have skipped that chapter in the books and articles I've read about it.
  • The anchorwoman says no one's dying in Western Sahara, demonstrating her inability to look up ASVDH, CODESA, or even leaked UN reports.
  • In the bottom bar they say people have alleged human rights allegations against the refugees in Tindouf. Fair enough. But if you're going to say that, then you have to mention the drastically more heinous human rights abuses inside Western Sahara.
But hopefully some people saw it, and the truth will set Western Sahara free etc.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Western Sahara discussion on Iranian TV

I'm told there'll be Iran's English channel, Press TV, has a talk show that'll be talking about Western Sahara today around 3 PM GMT (so 10 in the morning in the US). You can watch it online through Press TV's website. I'll post again if anything interesting happens.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

New Sahrawi blog explains what's up with the tea ceremony

Another day, another blog written by Sahrawi women. This time it's Zeina, a blog about Sahrawi culture written by two Sahrawi girls, Mona and Ward. They write about Sahrawi culture and tie it, quite cleverly I think, to the struggle for independence.

I never got the details on the famed Sahrawi tea ceremony, but they had an explanation:
One of the greatest features of the Saharawi culture is that of Tea ceremony. It is special and unique to the Saharawi people. It is a time of unity and celebration of happiness. Family members, neighbors, relatives or simply people passing by gather around to chat about everything and nothing and at the same time enjoy a cup of the special tea. The Atay or tea in Hassania the Saharawi native Arabic dialect is three cups and each one represents a different thing. The first cup is bitter as life, the second is sweet as love and the third is soft as love. The tea ceremony can take few minutes to make or can last as long as hours...

As it is said in Arabic: “there is an end to everything”, and so it is the time for the Saharawi people to get their share of justice and freedom. So let’s not give to enjoy the last cup of this struggle and the reward of freedom.
I'm looking forward to more explanations of Sahrawi culture. While I'm pretty versed in the politics of Western Sahara, I don't think I know near enough about the culture. Hopefully the ladies at Zeina will remedy that.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Happy blog anniversary to me

One year ago I started One Hump with a pretty dull post about Western Sahara. Since then, things have only improved.

I got yelled at by Robert Holley, ate a tasty chicken with President Abdelaziz, protested at the Moroccan embassy, and enjoyed how cool everyone involved in this issue is. Thanks for reading, commenting, and emailing. The more we talk and the better we know one another, the closer the Western Sahara gets to a free and fair referendum.

Photo from Flickr user Princessrica. Like her daughter's, my blog birthday involved Disney princesses

Even the African Art Museum knows Western Sahara deserves independence

We haven't had an installment of Even ___ Knows the Western Sahara Deserves Independence. Well, thirst no more! Today we have a message from my former editor and fan of self-determination Anna Bank:
The other day I went to the African Art Museum and Western Sahara was listed as its own country on the map. Just thought you should know.
Which African Art Museum is it? I'm not sure, but Laroussi suggests that it's the National Museum of African Art, which proudly displays its yay-Western Sahara map.

The Money Shot

Senator Russ Feingold with Sahrawis visiting Washington during the July rally.

What good luck that members of Christ the Rock Church would have the coolest senator representing them. Picture courtesy of Agaila Abba Hemeida from Free Western Sahara. She also has more pictures from Washington on her blog.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Sahrawi woman writes pro-integration blog

Usually the only Sahrawis who want to stay with Morocco we see are under the paternal guidance of the Moroccan-American Center for Policy. Not so with Chagaf Aziza, a young Sahrawi woman who has been active on this post and whose blog, Freedom Writer, is unequivocally supportive of the Moroccan annexation.

For example, in this post she calls out those of us who want a referendum:
It is sad too see people questioning our Identity and doubting who we are!
Why they can only see two neighborhoods in Lyoun protesting!
Why they refuse to feel the other many eyes in peace resting!
No one is allowed to take our Moroccan Identity or our Sahrawi lifestyle away.
No one is allowed to take my 25 years old way.
As always to people who say most Sahrawis want the occupation to continue, the response is "Then why not a referendum?"

Even more notably, she quoted my Georgetown Voice article about Western Sahara in this post. Unfortunately, she avoids my allegation of human rights abuses in occupied Western Sahara and instead writes about food aid corruption in Tindouf. Perhaps, but rice ending up in Mauritania doesn't soothe Amidayne El-Ouali's bruises.

I hope Chagaf Aziza will eventually decide to support a referendum. All Sahrawis deserve to participate in their country's fate, not just those whose choices were made reality by the invasion. Until then, she's an interesting, different voice in Western Sahara commentary.