Monday, April 21, 2008

Polisario officials write opinion pieces, but where are the occupied Sahrawi voices?

Emhamed Khadad isn't someone I've heard of before, but he's described as Polisario's coordinator with the UN (I guess that means he's the MINURSO liaison, because I thought Boukhari's the UN representative). He recently wrote two pieces for European audiences: one in the European Wall Street Journal argues that MINURSO needs a human rights component, while another in European Voice complains that the French idea of a European-Mediterranean trade sphere including Morocco strengthens the occupation.

I'm left to wonder, though, why we aren't seeing anything similarly from human rights activists inside Western Sahara like Ali Salem Tamek, Mohammed Daddach, Aminatou Haidar, or Brahim Sabbar. I can see some problems: activists might not know as many languages or be as educated as Polisario leaders, they could face repercussions from Moroccan authorities, or they don't have the connections that Polisario has to get a piece in a major paper. They also can't be as open about support for independence as a Polisario Front representative, certainly.

Still, they're more effective images for readers, and they can comment on Western Saharan issues without overtly opposing Moroccan sovereignty. Even an integrationist could want a human rights component for MINURSO, for example. Polisario should use the contacts it doubtless has with dissidents inside the territory and media elites in Europe and the United States to get articles by Sahrawi activists under the occupation published.

9 comments:

  1. Anonymous6:56 AM

    There are many possible explanations for that. One is that Polisario may not want people outside its political or territorial control to speak for sahrawis. A normal person may say certain things that doesn't match Polisario positions.
    However, Haidar and others living in the Moroccan side of Sahara have done several international tours, with intreviews, and came back home.

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  2. I also considered that. Polisario should be afraid about the rise of a parallel power center inside the occupied territory.

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  3. Anonymous3:19 AM

    You are absolutely wrong. Polisario has been encouraging and assisting the human rights activists in the occupied areas.
    You would have noticed that most of their visits abroad have been supported if not organised by Polisario representations.
    I believe that there are 12 members of the highest organ of Polisario who live in the occupied territories.
    In every speech of the Polisario leader you will hear him mention the activists by name. He sends regular letters to UN about their suffering and fate.
    All the main Polisario meetings including the National Congress they establish a direct phone link with the main human rights activists. So Polisario considers the Saharawis living under occupation as part of the same independence movement and no one is scared about that.
    So what you are mentioning is just Moroccan wishful thinking.

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  4. Anonymous9:35 AM

    when you speak of khaddad you must know that he is ignorant. he speaks a small franch and I doutr that he was the writer of both articles we read lastly.

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  5. Anonymous9:39 AM

    Hello¨:
    m.khaddad does not master his mother tongue, and speak a few english. I was surprised when I read thos articles he ¨wrote¨. If he trote such article with franche I could beleive that he is, but by english I do not beleive.

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  6. Laroussi3:46 PM

    "activists might not know as many languages or be as educated as Polisario leaders"

    Ali Salem Tamek, Aminatou Haidar and Brahim Sabbar are all well educated and speak other languages besides Arabic. When it comes to Daddach I'm not sure about his language skills.

    Regarding the Polisario leader Khaddad he speaks good French, Spanish and English. And not only "a few", as one of the anonymous commentators so skilfully put it.

    But who cares. Do you really think that president Bush or mr Mohamed write their own speeches and if they do, translate them themselves into other languages? Me not.

    "Polisario should be afraid about the rise of a parallel power center inside the occupied territory."

    As another anonymous writer put it, Will: You are absolutely wrong. :)

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  7. I might be wrong on this, Laroussi--I don't claim to know much about inside Polisario dynamics. But have you read Toby Shelley's book on Western Sahara? He made it look like the power is shifting from Tindouf to the occupied territories, and I doubt an old-time power hoarder like Abdelaziz would sit by and let that happen without a fight.

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  8. Laroussi4:00 AM

    "He (Toby Shelly) made it look like the power is shifting from Tindouf to the occupied territories"

    I do not think that he made it look like that. However, he pointed out that a solution to the conflict most likely would be found in the occupied territories and not the in the Polisario controlled territory.

    I would say that the leadership of the Frente agrees with this, and has done so for quite some time.

    As one anonymous pointed out all the major human rights campaigns by activists in the occupied territories are supported by Polisario when they travel, and several members of the national committee are from the occupied territories - and have been so for quite some time.

    The last congress also decided that more focus would be put on the struggle in the occupied territories since that is were today's battle is being fought.

    I am sorry to disappoint you Will, but there is no division here. There might be disagreements on tactics, but no real disagreement that would lead to a new power centre.

    Ever heard any activist in the occupied territories take a stand against Polisario or the Polisario leadership? :)

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  9. Anonymous1:02 PM

    Laroussi,
    what about the sahrawis from khat Achahid ? aren't they against polisario leadership ?

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