Monday, January 05, 2009

What happened?

Moroccan army fort in Guerguerat
During my embarrassing absence, a lot of Western Sahara-related things happened:
  • In December, Morocco began reinforcing its position on the Berm, a violation of the ceasefire. Polisario complained to the UN.
  • Human Rights Watch released its annual Western Sahara report. The report focuses on the abuses the Moroccan government inflicts on pro-independence Sahrawis. Here's a description of the torture of a Sahrawi activist named Asfari:
    After two, two and-a-half-hours, [the police] said, “Let’s try something else.” While I was still seated, they lifted my feet onto a second chair in front of me and hit the soles of my feet with what felt like hard plastic batons, for two, three minutes…One of them burned me with cigarettes on my wrists.

  • Two Sahrawi students, Mustapha Abd Daiem and Laktif el-Houssin, were crushed by a bus in a sit-in at a Marrakesh bus stop.
That last one is the one I'm saddest about effectively ignoring. It's a huge story, and the kind that shows how unpleasant life in Morocco can get if you're on the government's bad side. Interestingly, the incident also shows how good the Western Sahara conflict is, compared to other conflicts. An unjust death in DR Congo or Palestine would garner much less attention, considering the violence in those areas.

I know as well as anyone that a lot of stories on blogs are treated like a big deal, but then . If you want more coverage of one of these events or one I didn't name, say so in the comments. I'll do follow up reporting, and maybe post an interview with someone involved. It'll be a way to make up for the coverage these issues missed when I stopped blogging.

Photo from Flickr user Zongo769 used under a Creative Commons license.