Morocco continues attacks on Western Sahara’s population

Morocco’s Human Rights record in occupied Western Sahara has always been poor. But since the peaceful protest by ten of thousands of Saharawis (Western Sahara’s indigenous population) near El Aaiun in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara in October last year– the so-called Gdeim Izik protest camp that was the largest ever protest in the occupied territories – this record is becoming increasingly poor.

On September 25 this year, Moroccan settlers and security forces again attacked peacefully protesting Saharawis, this time in Dakhla in occupied Western Sahara. Many were injured in these attacks, including women and children, and 28-year-old Saharwi activist Maichan Mohamed Lamin Lehbib was assassinated by Moroccan forces, according to the Saharawi liberation movement, Polisario.

And last Monday, October 10, Moroccan forces brutally attacked peaceful protesters in El Aaiun in the occupied territories. According to the Polisario, approximately 30 Saharawis were injured and many others arrested.

In Gdeim Izik, as in the other demonstrations, the protesters were intent on showing their frustration with the lack of progress in the so-called Western Sahara conflict, the plundering of their resources by Morocco, and the arduous and discriminatory conditions they live under. They have endured 36 years of illegal colonisation, abuse and discrimination by Morocco, as well as nearly twenty years of waiting for a referendum on the status of Western Sahara that is demanded by international law and promised by UN.

Moroccan forces clamped down heavily on the peaceful protest in Gdeim Izik, injuring many of the protesters, killing a 15-year-old Saharawi boy, Nayem Elgarhi, and imprisoning several of the participants.

According to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, the Moroccan authorities allegedly torture many of the Saharawis whom they have detained, the most common methods, according to Amnesty International’s 2011 report being “beatings, electric shocks and threats of rape.” The detainees are also often forced to sign confessions and brought before military courts on more or less trumped up charges.

Abba Malainin, Polisario’s representative to Denmark, tells Africa Contact that he is “very worried that the Moroccan authorities maintains their torture against the protesters, that they will not be given a fair trial and that their health situation is deteriorating.”

“There were twenty-three Saharawi human rights activists arrested after the crackdown against the protest camp, Gdeim Izik, last year. They are now in Sale prison near Rabat waiting to be presented to a military court,” Malainin says.

“One of these, Cheikh Banga, has been doing a hunger strike since 15 September. His life is in danger. Another, Sidahmed Lemjiyed, President of the Saharawi Committee for Protection of Natural Resources, was detained on 25 December 2010 in El Aaiún. Since then, he has been imprisoned without being accused of a crime and without having been before a court. According to an international group that visited Morocco this week, his health is deteriorating.”

But as Morocco maintains a virtual media blackout in occupied Western Sahara and has banned NGO’s from operating there, independent information about the situation in occupied Western Sahara is hard to come by.

“Morocco still banning the entrance to Western Sahara of the Media and Independent observers,” says Abba Malainin. “And Morocco has in the past few days banned an International human rights Delegation, the Spanish International Association for the Observation of Human Rights (AIODH), from visiting the imprisoned Saharawi human rights activists in Morocco. Also, Saharawis in occupied Western Sahara have no right to free expression or free association.”

Read more:

El Mundo, The Guardian, Amnesty International, BBC

The case for Western Saharan independence

2 Responses to Morocco continues attacks on Western Sahara’s population

  1. Aadam says:

    Funny that Mr Kenworthy should fail to mention that Algeria continues to hold the Sahrawis hostage in the camps of detention run by their puppet organisation, the Polisario Front, and that they also refuse to allow the international community the right to uphold their duties: the only ‘refugee’ camps without a UN presence. They also refuse to allow a census of the population within the detention camps and over-inflate the number of detainees in order to profit from the humanitarian aid which they sell on the black-market. Even amidst all the evidence, these claims are continually ignored and rejected by the likes of Mr Kenworthy; yet the underlining issue is never addressed: Why hasn’t their been a census?

    Click to access 419598541_EN8.pdf

    Furthermore, claims of gross human rights abuses perpetrated by the Polisario (from extreme torture to executions; kidnapping to human trafficking) and their masters in Algiers (who have reportedly spent over $300 billion on the terrorist group and their cause) rarely receive any spotlight in the international media. To emphasis the point I could write a long list, but let’s just take the two recent and separate cases of Aminatou Haider and Mustapha Salma; whilst Ms Haider’s publicity stunt was covered by almost every major media outlet world-wide, Mustapha’s genuine plight received an almost total media blackout. How can any impartial observer explain the polar responses? What exactly is driving this phenomenally bias agenda? Yet, according to the pro-Polisario thinkers, it’s Morocco with the well organised propaganda machine because ordinary Moroccans like myself comment on these exceptionally insincere reports. Let’s also bear in mind that it’s not Morocco (a relatively underprivileged nation) who possess the large sums of both oil and gas.

    Altogether, Algeria has one of the worst human rights records in the world, yet here they are–along with their paid propagandists–masquerading as guardians of human dignity and integrity.

    What exactly is earning Algeria this impunity on the international scene? I believe the answer can be found in the declassified transcript of the meeting between Kissinger and Bouteflika.

    Your pathetic play on ignorance and argumentum ad hominem will take nothing away from the truth of our cause. The Sahrawis (translated: one of the Sahara) are ethnically of Berber/Arab/Negro stock. Put simply: They are fully “Maghribi” and the western part of the grand Sahara was under the Sultans authority prior to the colonial incursions. Unlike most of Africa and the middle-east, our Kingdom was not born on the back of colonialism and, in the truest sense of the word, justice demands our decolonization. To this day, both Algeria and Spain still occupy lands belonging to our Kingdom and this has thus translated into the prime motive for both establishing and sustaining this despicable and dishonest conflict.

    Click to access 6205.pdf

    Every claim made by this pathetic excuse for a journalist can be contested with an abundant degree of evidence. For one: The Gdeim Izik protest camp was set up solely for socioeconomic factors (they even bore placards proclaiming that the protest was not political). Perhaps more significantly, the protest camp was coincidently set up in the build up to UN talks regarding the Sahara (just as Aminatou Haider’s publicity stunt did the year before) and the Polisario Front had hoped to use thes protest to give them leverage (they, and their propagandists in the media, had been claiming that the protest was against “the occupation”). Unfortunately for them, the demands made by the organisers of the protest were met before talks at the UN began and the organisers called for an end to the camp. Faced with this political defeat, the agents of the Polisario Front prevented people from leaving and amidst these reports, police armed solely with batons entered the camp. This video details what happened next:

    (Contrast the light-handed approach taken by the Moroccan police and contrast them with the heavy-handed policing in so-called “democratic” societies; I’m sure you’ve all seen the anarchy in Greece as well as the Dale Farm evections in England today. I’m also sure you’ve seen the heavy-handed response to the Occupy Wall Street protest and copycat occupations world-wide. Yet, how many NGOs have so much as said two words about all this police brutality?)

    For the record, there was hardly any international condemnation of the savage butchery of these young officers in the Moroccan city of Laayoune – who were beheaded, stoned and urinated on by the Polisario Front terrorists; this again begs the question, who exactly is influencing these NGOs and why are they so utterly bias? To reiterate: I believe the answer can be found in the declassified transcript of the meeting between Kissinger and Bouteflika.

  2. Pingback: Stiff Kitten’s blog reaches 50,000 hits! « Stiff Kitten's Blog – development & socio-political issues

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