Amnesty report condemns “excessive force” in Western Sahara

“The [Moroccan] authorities continued to target Sahrawi human rights defenders and advocates of self-determination for Western Sahara, and used excessive force to quell or prevent demonstrations in Western Sahara,” Amnesty International say in their 2013 Annual Report that was published today [23. May].

Western Sahara is the last colony in Africa. The territory has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975. No country accepts Morocco’s claim to Western Sahara, but over 80 countries have recognised Western Sahara’s exile government, the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), which is a member of the African Union.

The Amnesty report specifically points to case of the Gdeim Izik protest camp as an example of Moroccan brutality and human rights violations. 15.000 peaceful Saharawi protesters – including women and children – had wished to protest against the discrimination and human rights violations committed by the Moroccan occupiers, but were met with water cannons and tear gas when Moroccan security police raided the camp. The organizers of the camp were tortured, hauled before a military court, and given long prison sentences.

“Police were reported to have injured dozens of people who demonstrated in Laayoune on 13 January in support of 23 Sahrawi prisoners … Many [of the prisoners] said they had been tortured or otherwise ill-treated in detention,” Amnesty stated.

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