Monday, August 5, 2019

Aminatou Haidar, the "Gandhi of Western Sahara"

Aminatou Haidar, Sahrawi human rights defense icon was paid a glowing tribute by an American newspaper, labeling her the “Gandhi of Western Sahara” in a long portrait of her career and fight for peace.
In its Saturday issue, the newspaper "OZY" dedicated a long article to Aminatou Haidar, president of the Association of Human Rights of Sahrawis (CODESA).

Late one night in 1987, Moroccan policemen arrived at a house in the occupied city of Laayoune, the capital of Western Sahara, and demanded to speak to Aminatou Haidar. It would only take 10 minutes, they told her panic-stricken family; but those minutes stretched into days, weeks, months and then years,” wrote journalist Ruairi Casey.

The 20-year-old was disappeared without trial to a secret facility not far from her home, where guards tortured her, subjecting her to starvation and threats of rape — the price for painting graffiti and circulating leaflets calling for a free Western Sahara.”

The day she was released, more than three years later, she was unable to stand, her body almost broken from the ordeal,” he added.
But Haidar was not deterred from activism and since has become a leading voice of resistance to Moroccan repression in the territory, regarded as Africa’s final colony.
She says, as the journalist quoted her that: “It made me stronger and more determined, and I was even more conscious of the necessity to lead a struggle for self-determination.”
To Sahrawis, Haidar, the “Gandhi of Western Sahara,” is a tireless advocate for peaceful resistance who brings international attention to their much-forgotten plight. To the Moroccan government in Rabat, she’s a “dangerous agitator” who continues to defy what the kingdom calls its “southern provinces,” though no other country recognizes this claim.
Now, at age 53, she’s become a voice of “restraint” — pitted against a new generation of Sahrawi activists who Haidar fears are too eager to launch a full-scale war, with tensions rising along the world’s longest militarized border.
Haidar remains sanguine. Even in her darkest days, visions of a brighter future did not abandon her, and on occasion her thoughts drift to the other activists who were rounded up that same night in 1987. Some have never been seen since, she says, and without bodies, their families have no idea whether their loved ones are alive or dead.
Still bearing the scars of torture, Haidar’s health is poor. She suffers from arthritis and spinal problems. But she dismisses the idea of retiring to a quieter life without a moment’s hesitation: “Only death will keep me silent.”

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Amnesty International: Moroccan authorities of occupation used excessive force against Saharawi protestors

Amnesty International asserted on Thursday that the Moroccan authorities of occupation in Western Sahara made excessive use of force against Saharawi demonstrators causing the death of a young woman and injuries of up to 80 others.
In a press release published on its website, the international organization confirmed that that Moroccan authority had used “excessive force by the security forces against Sahrawi protesters in El Aaiun who were celebrating Algeria’s football victory in the Africa Cup of Nations on 19 July.”
The organization, stressed in its press release that it “has verified video footage and gathered witness testimony indicating that security forces, who were heavily present on the streets and in cafés during the football match, used excessive force, throwing rocks to disperse the crowds of demonstrators and sparking clashes. According to two eyewitnesses, Sabah Njourni a 24-year-old woman, was killed after she was mowed down by two Moroccan auxiliary force cars,” said AI.
Eyewitnesses also said to Amnesty that “Moroccan auxiliary forces began chasing supporters with police vehicles and knocked at least three people over, according to one testimony. At least two people who witnessed Sabah Njourni’s death said she was struck by two auxiliary force vehicles which sped up towards her and did not stop to save her or check on her conditions. Satellite imagery analysed by Amnesty International and cross-referenced to videos filmed at the moment she was hit by security vehicles show she was on or close to a pedestrian crossing,” the text reads.
The killing of Sabah Njourni appears to be the direct result of the police’s lack of restraint. It is vital that the investigation Moroccan authorities have announced into her death is thorough, impartial and effective and that its findings are made public. Any members of the security forces found to be responsible for her death must be brought to justice,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.
"One of the two eyewitnesses, a Sahrawi activist, who did not want to be identified for security reasons recounted the moment that Sabah Njourni was hit by security forces’ cars:
If they wanted to slow down they could have, the street was empty,” the activist said. “The girl was running from another street, she was on the zebra crossing, but these two cars from the auxiliary forces were driving at a crazy speed – it’s a residential area so they shouldn’t be driving so fast.”
The activist described how the first car hit Sabah Njourni, throwing her in the air and the second car ran her over again. Sabah Njourni died of her injuries shortly after arriving at the hospital. The activist also said another protester who had been hit by a car had not visited the hospital for fear of reprisals by the authorities.
There is clear evidence to suggest that the Moroccan security forces’ initial response to the Sahrawi protests, which began peacefully, was excessive, and provoked violent clashes which could and should have been avoided,” said Magdalena Mughrabi.
The clashes between Sahrawi protesters and Moroccan security forces broke out shortly after Sahrawis took to the streets in El Aaiun on Friday 19 July waving Algerian and Sahrawi flags, chanting slogans celebrating Algeria’s football victory and calling for the Sahrawi people’s self-determination. Witness testimony and video footage indicate Moroccan security forces intervened by throwing stones, using rubber bullets, and spraying tear gas and water to disperse the demonstrators. The protesters responded by throwing rocks back at police.
According to activists, Amnesty adds, “scores of Sahrawi protesters, football fans and bystanders are believed to have been injured. Some stated that at up to 80 people may have been injured but the exact number remains unclear as many did not go to hospital for treatment fearing reprisals.”
In a video analysed by Amnesty International, “one security officer raises his arms in a "Weaver stance," a standard body position adopted by police officers to brace to discharge their firearm, and appears to fire his hand gun at the crowd. The UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, state that security forces must exhaust all non-violent means before resorting to force. These principles also stipulate that the authorities exercise restraint and only resort to use of firearms to protect against the imminent threat of death or serious injury.”
This added to the fact that the Moroccan forces of occupation should actually respect Geneva Conventions on the proitection of civilians in war zones, since Morocco is only the illegal force of occupation in the territory and should not target civilians.
Another activist told Amnesty International they had witnessed a separate incident where an auxiliary forces car hit a Sahrawi protester who was seriously injured with a broken leg and shoulder. The victim did not want to be identified for fear of reprisals.
A third eyewitness described to Amnesty International how he had himself nearly been hit by a police car that was zigzagging and speeding towards him. He also said auxiliary forces cars were driving on the pavements and against the direction of traffic in an attempt to intimidate and harass people.
According to activists, at least 13 people were arrested during the protests – nine adults and four children aged between 14 and 17. The nine adults have been charged with vandalism, use of force, obstructing traffic on a public road, harassment, and insulting the authorities as well as premeditated bloodshed. The four children will face trial in September.
The Moroccan authorities, illegally occupy Western Sahara, continue to impose arbitrary restrictions on the rights of Sahrawis to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. Moroccan security forces have used excessive force to disperse peaceful demonstrations and Sahrawi activists have faced harassment, intimidation and prosecution solely for peacefully expressing their opinions and exercising their other human rights.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

France: AARASD denounces expulsion of activist Claude Mangin Asfari of Morocco

The Association of Friends of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic of France (AARASD) on Monday denounced the expulsion of Morocco activist Claude Mangin who tried Monday to visit her husband Naâma Asfari, a Saharawi political prisoner in Kenitra prison (Morocco).
"The Association of Friends of the SADR and all associations in France and Europe in solidarity with Sahrawi denounce this new expulsion,  voicing their total support for all initiatives that can take Ms. Mangin-Asfari to enter the Kenitra prison where her husband jailed, "said the French association in a statement released Monday.
the said associations, the statement continues, will appeal to the French authorities to support Claude Mangin in the application of his access rights.
Claude Mangin moved on Monday for a second visit of her imprisoned husband to Kenitra (50 km north of Rabat), but she was manu militari expelled from Casablanca airport aboard the same plane that has just landed in Paris-Orly.
This is not the first time that the activist has been prevented from visiting her husband Naâma Asfari, who has been detained since November 2010, after being sentenced to 30 years imprisonment on the basis of confessions signed under torture for his participation at the Saharawi camp of Gdeim Izik.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

President of Republic begins visit in Republic of Panama

President of the Republic, Secretary-General of the Frente POLISARIO, Mr. Brahim Ghali, arrived Saturday in the capital of the Republic of Panama, Panama City, at an official invitation of the country's government to participate in the inauguration ceremony of President-elect, Laurentino Cortizo.
The President of the Republic was received at Tocumen International Airport in Panama City by representatives of the Panamanian National Authorities, where he addressed to the Panamanian and international press.
He stressed the strength of the historic relations between the two peoples and the two countries of the Republic of Panama and the Saharawi Republic, reiterating the sincere will to consolidate them at present and future, name of the Saharawi people, expressing thanks and appreciation for the kind invitation, and wishing the new President every success in his tasks and for the Panamanian people further progress and prosperity.
During the visit, the President of the Republic is expected to hold of meetings with Panamanian officials, Heads of State and Government and invited delegations

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Wali of Ausserd undertakes a working visit to French

 The Wali (Govermor) of Ausserd , Mrs. Mariam Salec, has undertaken Tuesday a working visit to  the French town of Rize accompanied by  the Frente POLISARIO representative  in France, Mr. Abbi Bashraya .
The delegation has held an expanded meeting with the Mayor of the city, Gerard Mayar, and members of the Council to discuss  a bilateral cooperation project   Between the state of Oussard and the French municipality of Rize.
The said meeting has discussed several issues related to the level of cooperation between the two parts and the ways to provide support to the Sahrawi refugee camps to ensure their maximum daily needs in various aspects of life, especially in the health and education sectors, as important factors in the life of humanity and its continued existence

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Santiago de Composte University hosts conference on Saharawi struggle women

The Afro-deputy, Suelma Beiruk, addressed the historical trajectory of Saharawi women and their role in the struggle for self-determination and independence of Western Sahara during q conference hosted by the University Santiago de Composte University
In the framework of the activities organized by the Department of International Relations of the Galician institution to address the situation of refugee women, Suelma Beiruk explained to the audience the performance of Saharawi women in the struggle of their people and their key role in the construction and consolidation of the Saharawi State.
"Since the foundation of the Frente POLISARIO and the proclamation of the Saharawi State, women have been aware of our responsibility in history and the need to join forces to contribute to the struggle for our freedom and independence," Beiruk points out

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Regular meeting of the executive of the UNMS at the headquarters of the National Union of Sahrawi women.

Regular meeting of the executive of the UNMS on 29 May 2019 at the headquarters of the National Union of Sahrawi women. The meeting chaired by the Secretary general, Minetu Laraas, aims to evaluate the working period between March and May at the central and regional level and the establishment of initiatives on the occasion of the holy month addressed to the most Needed. The Meeting also addressed substantive issues in the field of foreign affairs, cooperation and some other points related to the work of the Organization in general.
The National Union for Sahrawi women appreciates the role of women in the institutional construction of the Sahrawi state, the promotion of Sahrawi society and its contribution to the advancement of national institutions and their positive role in strengthening of the same.
The National Union of Sahrawi women praises the role of Sahrawi women and their struggles in the occupied areas, the south of Morocco and the Moroccan universities, as well as the high morality and the provision demonstrated by Sahrawi women in the occupied territories To confront all kinds of oppression that particularly affects Sahrawi women in the occupied territories.
It also condemned Moroccan abusive practices and brutal treatment of Sahrawi political prisoners in Moroccan prisons, as well as expressing their solidarity with the mothers of the 15 abducted youth.

The National Union of Sahrawi women takes the opportunity to congratulate the Sahrawi people wherever they are in the occupied territories, the diaspora, and in the refugee camps on the occasion of the end-of-Ramadan party.