Tuesday, April 14, 2009

How much does Western Sahara cost Morocco?

The latest edition of Moroccan magazine Tel Quel says it has the answers:

  • 20 million dirhams on the military
  • 3.25 million dirhams on "exonerations, subventions, et prebendes". I don't know what that means.
  • 4.87 million dirhams on diplomacy
  • 3.25 million dirhams on "irrationnels" investments
  • 3.25 million dirhams on governance
  • 9.75 million dirhams on "synergies a degager du Maghreb"

That makes for a 44.5 million dirham total. That actually doesn't seem like that much compared to King Mohammed VI's salary (248 million dirhams), according to the same issue of Tel Quel.

The issue also compares how much goods cost in Morocco versus how much they cost in Western Sahara because of government subsides. A liter of cooking oil is 10.2 dirhams in Morocco, while it's less than half that (5 dirhams) in Western Sahara. A liter of diesel gasoline is 7.5 dirhams in Morocco, while it's only 5 dirhams in Western Sahara.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Taking action on Sahrawi hunger strikers

Dear Ambassador Mekouar...
Three Sahrawi political prisoners in Marrakesh have been on a hunger strike for a month now, and their health is deteriorating. CODESA has requested that the international community help out, and the Western Sahara Facebook group is in. Join us below by sending Moroccan embassies an e-mail applying political pressure.

The three prisoners, Brahim Baryaz, Khallihanna Aboulhassan, and Ali Salem Ablagh, are refusing to eat until conditions in their jail improve. Yesterday, Baryaz was sent to a hospital because he was vomiting a yellow liquid, and the others aren't doing much better.

Below is the e-mail I'm sending to Morocco's US ambassador, Aziz Mekouar. To find the contact information for your country's Moroccan ambassador, Morocco has a handy list.

Dear Ambassador Mekouar,

I'm writing to you today about the status of three Sahrawi prisoners held in a Marrakesh jail: Brahim Baryaz, Khallihanna Aboulhassan, and Ali Salem Ablagh. Since February they have been on a hunger strike to improve the conditions in their jail.

These men only want to be afforded the same dignity that all people deserve. Giving them their requests will speak volumes about the state of Morocco's government and the hearts of the Moroccan people. Many people in my country are following this situation, and we urge you to relay our requests for better treatment of the three hunger strikers to the authorities in Marrakesh.