Monday, March 17, 2008

Polisario Think Twice throws the kitchen sink at SADR

and seems to come up empty. There's some slavery talk and video I want to talk about more, but for now, I leave with a description of Kim Jong Il, one of the "godfathers" of the Tindouf camp:

Kim Jong-II “Doctor Folamour”: 66 years old, leader of the Republic of North Korea, Secretary General of the Korean working Party, directs North Korea since 1994. He maintains continuous tides with the leaders of the Polisario. Kim Jong is suspected of maintaining a nuclear program. Fan of American movies, he would plan to turn a remake of the “seven mercenaries” with for principal role Mohammed Abdelaziz, Secretary general of the Polisario.
Emphasis mine. Isn't that rich? Stalin and Fidel Castro are the other godfathers. I've never heard of the Seven Mercenaries, but I'm sure Abdelaziz could do a bang-up job.

The site's registered, as you might expect, in Dallas, the same place Polisario Confidential and friends are.


  1. Anonymous8:25 AM

    Thank you very much for the links, Shocking story about slavery. I just forwarded it to the Obama camp and to other friends and i can help condemning these practices as we did for Gery Ferraro. Not only African Americans suffer racial and color discrimination but also blacks all over the world.

  2. They forgot to point out that his favourite song is "I'm so wonely".

    I might have to post something on Sand and Dust about the slavery story - seems your other commenter has taken this bit of propaganda at face value. I do wish people would stop making stuff up (Western Sahara, climate change) - there's just so much idiocy out there that demands a blogging response that it's affecting my proper work.

  3. Laroussi10:32 AM

    Never say never is a good proverb. In the case of slavery it is clear that it still exists in Mauritania. In the camps however. I strongly doubt it.

    Trafficking of people on the other hand exists all over the world. That is the modern version of slavery and that might well have happened to the people in the film - given that their stories are true.

  4. Without wanting to be too churlish, we don't know that the stories in the film are true. I'm prepared to tentatively accept the account of the girl - she talks explicitly about being taken into slavery in Mauritania (where, yes, slavery does still exist by all accounts). It appears that she then ended up in the camps, although how is not quite clear. Neither is how she ended up in (presumably) Spain - it appears she was sent there on an exchange, or to be fostered, or for education, but again the details are vague. It would seem odd for a Sahrawi family to send a slave overseas for an education.

    The earlier section with the male interviewee is more suspicious. The subtitles have similar English errors to those in the Polisario Think Twice website, and it seems pretty clear that this footage comes from a different source to that in the latter part of the film, in which the subtitles are in good English. Frankly this guy could be anybody, and his accusations are general and vague. Less convincing than Saltana's case. And let's face it, it wouldn't be unbelievable if some pro-Moroccan group had made this up. I'm not saying that this is the case - but I'll need more evidence.

    The contexts of these interviews is not clear, and there are lots of questions. Slavery is a reality, but it is certainly being exaggerated for political purposes. The Moors in Mauritania (in many ways identifiable with the Sahrawi) still keep slaves as far as we can tell. But the Sahrawi in the camps do like to distance themselves from their Mauritanian brethren and see themselves as having a distinct cultural identity, although there are links with Mauritania.

    I read that one of the recent Mauritanian presidential candidates was popular with the black population because of his attempts to end slavery. The man in question is apparently a Moor with close links with the Polisario.

    The pity here is that by using slavery as a tool in the propaganda war, the Moroccans and their allies are undermining the credibility of accounts of real slavery. Maybe the stories in the film are true, but I'm immediately suspicious because of how they are being used.

  5. It seems like Morocco's trying to link slaves in Mauritania, some perhaps owned by Sahrawis there, with Polisario. I don't think it'll get much traction--how could so many NGO's miss slaves?

    That said, if we see more compelling evidence the first people to denounce slavery in the camps should be those who want Sahrawi self-determination. Polisario slaveholding hurts the case for independence while strengthening Morocco's claim that Sahrawis can't govern themselves.

  6. Anonymous7:18 PM

    The majority of the footage of this video has been stolen from a feature documentary currently in production.
    This video infringes copyright and endangers the lives of people seen in the clip. This video is political propaganda and does not represent the film.

    Violeta Ayala - Director
    Daniel Fallshaw - Director
    Tom Zubrycki - Producer

  7. Anonymous2:44 AM

    The story is true and i just confirmed with the producer, full movie is under production and the leak came from inside the camps to draw attention about human rights situation inside the camps.
    Seems like the refugees want an exit to the long lasting struggle and fell each day, independence is getting more impossible and the producer expressed to me clearly that people in the camps want just to leave anywhere. Some need to take the struggle inside even under occupation and some need to start a real and permanent life.
    Truly speaking, these videos hurt the case and the movie release may wrap it all.

  8. Anonymous8:07 PM

    The producer of what? What are you talking about?
    The majority of the footage was stolen and we are in the process of getting those horrible videos out of utube.
    Stealing material is a crime.
    Moroccans should stop stealing things and doing propaganda with issues that are very sensitive.

    I am one of the directors of the documentary and those clips don't represent the documentary. We have been working for around two years on this film.


    Violeta Ayala

  9. Anonymous10:38 PM

    Hi Will, welcome to the facts laboratory, after all the time you wasted in the theory club. You 're out of the roaster, out of the payroll and Rasd declared you another Brian Kaelin. You looked like the guy who knew too much but saw nothing. I took you for a pitcher who knew how to play the game. Well, it was 'Quite a Strikeout'

    Never mind, Serbs in north Kosovo are hiring pitchers with some experience in minor league.

  10. Anonymous4:08 AM

    Violeta is a liar and a manipulator par excellence. She is the one that handed over to the Moroccans the material she put together. Don’t forget that ASM confirmed this in a press release after they met Violeta in Paris.

    We’re not going to believe the story of “stolen tapes.”

    All the footage is a propaganda tool. The Moroccans have paid both Violeta and Philippe of Together Foundation to do their dirty work.

    Saltana is a young girl that prefers to live in Spain.unfortunately, the Spanish host family wants to keep her. They've been encouraging her to tell stories. This is unprecendeted as another Saharawi girl who is not black did the same thing in order to stay in Spain. Saltana's mother is now in Spain trying to get her back but the Spanish family refuses to even let the mother see her daughter!

    Saltana family sent her to study in the camps as education is free and there is an opportunity to go on holiday to Europe which her family while they were in Mauritania could not afford. Her mother with all her sisters and brother then moved to the camps and they live now in Smara camp. There are pictures of Saltana in a classroom in a school in the Smara camp. So don’t believe the lies and propaganda please.

    Maatala and the other person who appear in the footage are in the camps now and are willing to talk about the whole story. How they were bribed and asked to say things against Polisrio.

    The truth will come out eventually and the lies will be revealed.

  11. Anonymous4:43 AM

    Well this is interesting!
    Violeta claimed some time ago that Polisario stole her tapes in the camps. Is she now claiming the Moroccans did the same? But how, where and when?
    This material seems finished and not rough. How could it have been stolen. Violeta seems a constant target of thieves!
    Violeta please explain.

  12. Anonymous3:32 AM

    The videos were so embarrassing because the stupid allegations and the terrible translation that those behind them decided to take them off the internet.

    Does anyone have links to the videos that are still alive?

    Has anyone saved the footage?

  13. Anonymous2:07 PM

    That’s true. The videos were so embarrassing to Polisario.

    Saltana’s story is well known is Spain long before the release of her testimony. Newspapers and Human rights organizations brought these practices before and Polisario denied the right to international investigation.

    Matala’s story is also known in Mauritania after he escaped the camps and reached out freedom and now he is still trying to free his family and friends still held hostages and slaves in Tindouf.

    Violeta Ayala talked about huge and wide practice of slavery in the camps in the United Nations and what is missing is posting within your comments that slavery is fine with you guys. Polisario is finished, ousted and discredited. It can no more claim any right to talk on behalf of sequestered, displaced, innocent refugees.

    How comes that you defend such criminals, unless if you are one of them. And how on earth you defend such practices unless if you paid for it.

    Wake up guys, it is modern times and we dealing with a bunch of hate mongers.

  14. Anonymous10:03 PM
    More on Slavery in the Camps

    Following up on our earlier report, here is a manumission document dated June 3, 2007 purporting to free a slave (taharir rak’ba) among the refugees in the Polisario’s camps around Tindouf. It is signed by an official representative of the Ministry of Justice and Religious Affairs of the Sahirwiya Democratic Arab Republic, the Polisario’s government-in-exile. Needless to say, slavery is not legal in Algeria and international law categorically forbids it.

  15. Anonymous7:13 AM

    As Nick Brooks points out, the two main interviews appear to be from different sources. Not only is the accuracy of the English translation inconsistent in the subtitling but also the font itself is different, as is the nature of the camera work. The male interviewee appears to be quite staged. And who is the French interviewer? Surely not part of Violeta’s team. He seems at pains to point out that they are in the ‘Tindouf camps’, even giving the date, but judging by the d├ęcor it really could be anywhere (there’s nothing familiar there unless its in Protocol?). The other interviews are more conversational and professionally produced in terms of observation, probably the result of a large ratio between amount of footage shot and edited outcome. Also, the quality of these is in stark contrast to the tacky video transitions, overly emotive music and still images of historical slavery (a quick Google Image search of ‘slavery’ finds one on the first page!) that mark the rest of the videos.

    Having said that, it would be far better for Polisario and pro-Polisario and/or SADR activists to be more proactive and less reactive. I’m no anthropologist, but it seems a tall order to eradicate all traces of slavery overnight (even within a generation), especially when its within mixed families. Saltana’s testimony appears to be true. It is worth considering that traces of racial discrimination have survived within family units, and that this discrimination is expressed in ways that are codified to an extent that may warrant the term ‘slavery’. This is not to justify ‘traditional customs’, but simply to try to understand how it occurs as a process and how it differs in degree. (Note the criticism by a Saharawi woman about Deido’s racism vs. ‘normal people’ - 00:02:30, part 1).

    The question as to whether this is indemic and codified in an institutional sense (re: property ownership, freedom to marry, travel etc), is another matter and far more serious. Polisario would do well to rise above the blanket denials and to distinguish racial discrimination within the family unit from ‘institutionally sanctioned’ practices. If it is more, or even partly the latter case, this is an even greater challenge and responsibility for Polisario to address. On the face of it this would appear to confirm Moroccan accusations of Polisario holding refugees hostage in the camps. But it could also become a courageous act of ‘real politics’ that may undermine Rabat; an opportunity to reform and reaffirm the democratic ideals of SADR, for all Saharawi, rather than turn a blind eye to something none of us want to see. The issue is sensitive enough to alienate Western activists, but only if they feel Polisario is suppressing something.

    Meanwhile, the Moroccan media stooges seem to be lost far away down a propaganda rabbit-hole of their own devising (although considering the immense gap between map and territory in this regard, this is hardly surprising). To credit the videos as being directed by Together Foundation, without mention of Violeta and her team, is both critically and tactically inept. Nonetheless, despite their illegal use of the footage, these videos do seem indicate that TF had privileged access (as clients or financiers?)… ‘stolen’ certainly, but also perhaps ‘prepaid’? Violeta… to paraphrase - if you don’t want ‘people to be used for political propaganda’, why did you involve yourself with a pro-Moroccan propaganda machine masquerading as a Human Rights NGO in the first place? Were you duped or was it more mercenary? Whether you like it or not the subject of your documentary is now part of (and perhaps the better for it) the political spectrum. Take a tip from Trinh T. Minh-ha’s documentary legacy – give us some transparency as to the means of (post)production. If your material is as compelling as is indicated in these videos, perhaps you might also take the opportunity to clarify a few things. There are stories worth telling here to be sure, a pity the truth has become increasingly obscured in the making. Perhaps all will be revealed when it is released. I only hope (for your sake and for the Saharawi), that you treatment is sensitive and objective (even self-reflexive), not only to the subject matter but also to the larger context within which it has been produced (the two cannot be extricated as any critical documentary filmmaker knows). Now that would really be a film worth watching and talking about!

  16. Anonymous7:38 PM

    The western male who conducted the interview in French is Philippe Elghouayel , the Director of Together Foundation. The interview took place in Nouakchott, the Mauritanian capital with the presence of two Moroccans one of them was the cameraman. The meeting between Philippe and the Saharawis was arranged by Violeta Ayala who met the Saharawis in the refugee camps.

  17. Anonymous2:55 AM

    Australian journalists’ allegations against POLISARIO: political campaigns for whom?

    Article published on 19/10/2007:

  18. 1. Very good comment by Anonymous 7:13 above.

    2. Elghouayel again, huh? Ze plot thickens.

  19. Anonymous9:58 AM

    Violeta or Daniel: I'd like to be in touch - We met in the camps (Soy Elena y estaba viviendo en el 27 de Febrero mientras estuvieron ustedes alli) and travelled to Algiers on the same plane. Could you pls contact me via Will? He has my email address. Thanks!

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  21. Anonymous3:08 PM

    what is this? a competition to find out who is more the top idiots??
    polisario or whatever are torrorists