Friday, November 13, 2009

Aminatou Haidar abducted by Moroccan security forces

Sad news: Aminatou Haidar, the face of Western Saharan activism, was arrested around noon today in El Aiun. Here's a release from CODESA, the human rights organization Haidar belongs to:
"Aminatou Haidar" was arrested and abducted at Laayoune airport / Western Sahara immediately after getting out of the plane which as she was coming from Las Palmas, Canary Islands. Her family reported that they were waiting outside the airport and that they were hindered from meeting her or seeing her. The whole airport was surrounded by secret services and by different police and intelligence agents.

The family "Aminatou Haidar," had to wait for an hour at least, but to no avail especially that all the passengers got off the plane and left the airport except for their daughter Amiantou and two Spanish journalists who were taking photos of Amiantou Haidar when she was getting out of the plane at the airport in question and subjected to harassment and arrest by the officers and agents of the Moroccan police.
This shows Moroccan police will go after any Sahrawi who supports a referendum, even those with international connections and support. Haidar's awards (most recently the Civil Courage Prize) weresupposed to place her outside these dangers by showing the Moroccan government the world is watching them.

Last month, I saw Haidar at a reception in Washington. One of the speakers suggested asking the US Ambassador in Rabat to send an embassy car to meet Haidar at the airport so she wouldn't be arrested upon landing. It seemed unlikely to me that she would be arrested, since she's so well-known. Looks like that was wrong.

Photo from Saharauiak used under a Creative Commons license