Friday, December 18, 2009

حيدر تعود للعيون بعد وساطة أمريكية وفرنسية وإسبانية.. ومن دون الاعتذار للملك


حيدر تعود للعيون بعد وساطة أمريكية وفرنسية وإسبانية.. ومن دون الاعتذار للملك
حسين مجدوبي:

18/12/2009




مدريد ـ 'القدس العربي' عادت الناشطة الصحراوية أميناتو حيدر، ليلة الخميس ـ الجمعة، إلى مدينة العيون في الصحراء الغربية بعدما قبل المغرب برجوعها من دون شروط عكس موقفه المتصلب السابق، وفي المقابل حصل على تعهدات من باريس وواشنطن باستبعاد حقوق الإنسان من القرار المقبل لمجلس الأمن حول نزاع الصحراء الغربية.
وكما كان منتظرا، عادت أميناتو ليلة أمس الأول الخميس إلى مدينة العيون بعد 32 يوما من الإضراب عن الطعام في مطار لانساروتي بجزر الخالدات الإسبانية بدأ إثر طردها يوم 14 تشرين الثاني/نوفمبر الماضي بقرارا من الحكومة المغربية وسحب جواز سفرها ردا على عدم اعترافها بالجنسية المغربية.
ونقلت طائرة طبية مجهزة حيدر (42 سنة) نحو العيون. وقالت صحيفة 'الباييس' الاسبانية ان الطائرة ظلت تحلق فوق أجواء الصحراء لمدة ساعة، مما أوحى بأن السلطات المغربية كانت مترددة بشأن الترخيص لها بالنزول، لكنها وافقت في آخر المطاف. وبذلت مدريد مجهودات كبيرة لإقناع حيدر بالعودة، ذلك أن الأخيرة كانت تتخوف من سيناريو شبيه لما وقع منذ أسبوعين عندما جرى نقلها إلى مطار لانساروتي من أجل التوجه إلى المغرب وتبين أنه لم يكن هناك ترخيص من الرباط بعودتها.
وأكد أفراد عائلة حيدر أن الأخيرة رفضت التوجه إلى منزلها على متن سيارة إسعاف خصصتها لها السلطات المغربية بالعيون، كما رفضت المكوث في مستشفى العيون الذي تديره السلطات الصحية المغربية.
وعكس ما جاء في بيان وزارة الداخلية المغربية عن أن حيدر عادت بعدما قبلت بجميع الشروط ومنها الإدارية، تبين أنها عادت من دون جواز سفر بل برخصة عبور أصدرتها اسبانيا، وفي مطار العيون سلمتها الشرطة المغربية الجواز الذي سحبته منها يوم 13 تشرين الثاني/نوفمبر الماضي، كما لم تلتزم بالشروط الإدارية ـ والسياسية ـ التي كانت الرباط تتمسك بها.
ومن الشروط التي وردت على لسان وزير الإعلام المغربي خالد الناصري، ومسؤولين آخرين، الاعتذار للملك محمد السادس، قالت حيدر للقناة الأولى الإسبانية ان 'على ملك المغرب أن يعتذر لي'، مضيفة بإصرار: لن أطلب الاعتذار لأنني لست مجرمة (..) النظام المغربي هو المسؤول عن الجرائم التي يرتكبها في الصحراء'.
وتابعت في تصريحات من منزلها في العيون بالصحراء الغربية 'عودتي انتصار.. انتصار للقانون الدولي، لحقوق الإنسان والعدالة الدولية والقضية الصحراوية'. وعن المستقبل قالت: سأستمر في الدفاع عن استقلال الصحراء الغربية.
وتعتبر هذه التصريحات تحديا حقيقيا للسلطات المغربية التي تبدو كأنها تقف الآن عاجزة عن محاكمتها بعدما تحولت إلى شخصية دولية.
وتسود مشاعر الحسرة واليأس في نفوس الجالية المغربية في اسبانيا بسبب هذه النهاية التي لم تكن منتظرة. في هذا الصدد قال مغربي تابع عن كثب تطورات هذه القضية: 'منذ البدء كان على المغرب أن يفكر جيدا في هذا الملف ويستبعد ترحيل حيدر حتى يتجنب هذه المهزلة'، معتبرا أن عودتها 'صفعة حقيقية لدبلوماسية الرباط على شاكلة صفعة جزيرة تورة في صيف 2002'.
وتشكل عودة حيدر نهاية حلقة من المسلسل الطويل لنزاع الصحراء الغربية.
وقد بدأت أخبار كثيرة تتسرب حول طريقة معالجة هذا الملف الذي تسبب في حرج حقيقي للمغرب أمام المجتمع الدولي بسبب طابعه الحقوقي، وأمام الرأي العام المغربي لأن السلطات كانت تشترط اعتذار حيدر للملك محمد السادس مقابل عودتها، وهو الأمر الذي لم يحصل.
وكشف وزير الخارجية الإسباني ميغيل آنخيل موراتينوس الجمعة أن مدريد لم تقدم أي تنازلات للرباط في هذه القضية، موضحا أن بلاده تمسكت منذ البدء بموقفها المطالب بعودة حيدر، كما تشبثت بضرورة إجراء استفتاء تقرير المصير كحل لنزاع الصحراء الغربية.
وقال موراتينوس: 'اريد فقط ان اعبر عن ارتياحي لعودتها الى بلادها. نحن مسرورون. لقد ناضلت طويلا من اجل ذلك'.
واكد ان حكومة بلاده 'قامت بما في وسعها لتأمين هذه العودة في أسرع وقت ممكن' غير ان الامر لم يخضع 'لأي مساومة' مع المغرب.
وقال 'لقد عملنا بالتنسيق مع بلدين كبيرين هما الولايات المتحدة وفرنسا'.
واوضح موراتينوس ان الدول الثلاث، اسبانيا وفرنسا والولايات المتحدة، التي فاوضت السلطات المغربية، 'لديها مصالح مهمة في المنطقة ولديها الامكانية لدفع الامور الى الامام'.
والمثير أن موراتينوس كشف أن السلطات المغربية أخبرته بطرد حيدر قبل ترحيلها، مما يبين وجود مخطط مسبق في هذا الشأن من طرف السلطات المغربية.
وأبرزت مصادر سياسية إسبانية أن الولايات المتحدة لعبت دورا رئيسيا في انهاء هذا الملف بالتنسيق مع مدريد وباريس.
وفي بيان نشر مساء الخميس، اعلنت الرئاسة الفرنسية ان الرئيس الفرنسي نيكولا ساركوزي طلب من المغرب تسليم حيدر جواز سفر.
وقام ساركوزي بهذه البادرة في 15 كانون الاول/ديسمبر لدى استقباله في باريس وزير الخارجية المغربي الطيب الفاسي الفهري الذي اعرب له 'عن الامل في ان يتمكن المغرب انطلاقا من تقاليد الانفتاح والكرم، من تسليم حيدر جواز سفرها المغربي لدى وصولها الى اراضي المملكة'.
من جهتها قالت وزيرة الخارجية هيلاري كلينتون في بيان الخميس 'لقد سررت بقرار الحكومة المغربية' مذكرة بان الناشطة الصحراوية حصلت على جائزة روبرت كينيدي لحقوق الانسان.
واشادت كلينتون بـ'البادرة الانسانية' التي 'تعكس الروح الحقيقية وسخاء الحكومة والشعب المغربيين والتي تشير الى الاهمية الملحة لايجاد حل دائم للنزاع في الصحراء الغربية'.
وعلمت 'القدس العربي' أن من ضمن شروط المغرب لقبول عودة حيدر، الحصول على تعهد من واشنطن وباريس برفض أي قرار يصدر عن مجلس الأمن يكلف قوات حفظ السلام في الصحراء الغربية (مينورسو) بمراقبة حقوق الإنسان

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Letter from a Mauritanian Woman to Miatou Haidar

بســـــم الله الرحمـــن الرحيــم
قال تعالى: " يُثَبِّتُ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِالْقَوْلِ الثَّابِتِ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَفِي الآخِرَةِ وَيُضِلُّ اللَّهُ الظَّالِمِينَ وَيَفْعَلُ اللَّهُ مَا يَشَاءُ ".
صدق الله العظيم
أبدأ قولي مستعينة بالله عز وجل، طالبة منه التوفيق للصواب والسداد...
لقد كانت المرأة ولا تزال نصف المجتمع. هي الجزء الذي لا يتجزأ منه، فبغيرها يعرج النصف الآخر على قدم وساق. لا تكاد مكانتها تدنوا عظمتا عن مكانة الرجل، لها دورا أساسيا في جميع ميادين الحياة. هي الأرض الطيبة، تعطي، تبذل، تعلم، تربي وتنشئ، إنها صانعة الأمجاد والشعوب وبانية الحضارات الشامخة.
فالمرأة قديما كانت تذهب مع الرجال إلى الحروب تشجع المقاتلين، تثير في نفوسهم الحمية، تداوي المرضى وتسقي العطاش. وهاهي حفيدتها المرأة الصحراوية صانعة المستحيل تقتدي بها...
لقد أثبتت التجربة النضالية والثورية للشعب الصحراوي، أن المرأة الصحراوية مارست دورها البطولي بجدارة جنبا إلى جنب مع أخيها الرجل، وذلك بدءا من الكفاح المسلح وحتى الانتفاضة الحضارية السلمية مما جعل التاريخ يحفظ لها دورها وإسهامها الفاعل والمشرف كشريك حقيقي للرجل في النضال والاستشهاد والألم .
بدافع أخلاقي وكنوع من الوفاء لهذا الشعب الشقيق والجار، أجد نفسي ملزمتا بالكتابة عنها، هي امرأة صحراوية تستحق أن يكتب عنها الكثير في سياق التأريخ الحقيقي لدور المرأة الصحراوية في النضال...
لقد جعلت من تجربتها نموذجا فذا في العطاء، خرجت من حدود الصمت إلى ساحات الفعل والإرادة المعبرة عن قدرة المرأة الصحراوية....
إنها المناضلة الصامدة الشهمة التي تحاصرها المتاعب من كل جانب... تقاوم من أجل قضيتها ومن أجل عزة وكرامة شعبها تحت رحمة من لا يعرف للرحمة و لا للنضال معنى...
إنها تناضل من أجل أن تعيش كريمة بأرض الكرامة، نضالها مشروع وهي حقيقة دامغة لا يمكن تجاهلها أو النيل منها...
هكذا يبدأ النضال وهاهي " أمينتو حيدار" تقاوم ليس من أجل أن تحقق شيء لذاتها وإنما تريد تحقيق الحرية لهذا الشعب الحبيب وإن كان الطريق من النوع الوعر والإمكانيات محدودة.
نعم إن قطار أمينتو حيدار قد بدأ طريقه ولن تجدي رغبات ولا قوة العدو الظالم في إيقاف مسيرته النضالية السلمية، فبرغم محاولاته المتعددة (أي العدو) لإيقافها ودحرها إلا أنها تأبى الخضوع والتراجع وتعتزم الإصرار والمواصلة ولو كلفها ذلك حياتها، وخير دليل على ذلك اعتصامها مضربة عن الأكل منذ أكثر من عشرين يوما في مطار لانثاروتي من أجل قضيتها وشعبها وأرضها متحدية بذلك جبروت عدو طاغي متغطرس ...
أيتها البطلة مباركةٌ بإذن الله مسيرتكِ. أبشري فالوصول قريبٌ لأن صوتكِ مسموع ومطالبكِ مشروعة...
أخوية الناجم:
Gmail.com@999 khouta
شابة موريتانية تهنأ الشعب الصحراوي على صمود هذه
الــمناضلة وتــتــمنى له الاستــقلال في القــريب العاجل...

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Urgent Action:3 SIMPLE ACTIONS TO SAVE THE SAHARAWI GHANDI

3 SIMPLE ACTIONS TO SAVE THE SAHARAWI GHANDI


Your support can make a difference at a crucial time in the campaign to save the life of Aminatou Haidar known as the ‘Saharawi Ghandi’. Aminatou is a prominent human rights activist and former political prisoner and Nobel Peace Prize nominee. She is known for her non-violent resistance to the illegal occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco.

On Sunday she entered her 21st day of hunger strike after being expelled from her home in Western Sahara. Negotiations are still taking place between Spain and Morocco, with involvement from the UN and the African Union, but so far this it has not been successful – YOU CAN EXERT THE PRESSURE NEEDED TO INFLUNCE THEM

Aminatou should not need to die to demonstrate to the world the extent of the Moroccan oppression against the people of Western Sahara.

Doctors have said she has only days to live. PLEASE HELP HER!




TAKE 3 SIMPLE ACTIONS:




1. Click here to take the Amnesty International Action to the Moroccan authorities

http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/siteapps/advocacy/index.aspx?c=jhKPIXPCIoE&b=2590179&template=x.ascx&action=13368

http://www.es.amnesty.org/actua/acciones/sahara-presos-conciencia




2. Make sure key decision makers in the EU and UN take action.


- Copy the following into the subject heading of an email: AMINATOU HAIDAR IS DYING. PLEASE ACT NOW SO SHE CAN RETURN TO HER FAMILY




- Body text: Members of the UN Security Council have a responsibility to pressure the Moroccan authorities to act to enable Aminatou Haidar to return to Western Sahara. She should not have to die just to show the world the extent of the Moroccan oppression. Please Act.




- BCC it to the following addresses:


acreditaciones@mpr.es; maciej.popowski@europarl.europa.eu; epmadrid@europarl.europa.eu; InfoDesk@ohchr.org; eurobarometer@ec.europa.eu; leonor.ribeiro-da-silva@ec.europa.eu; ofiprensa@psoe.es; atencion@pp.es; cdc@convergencia.cat; comunicacion@izquierda-unida.es; prensa@upyd.es; prensa@coalicioncanaria.org; Michael.Denison@fco.gov.uk; Madlin.sadler@fco.gov.uk; Sarah.Schaefer@fco.gov.uk; Matthew.gould@fco.uk; hallp@parliament.uk;lisa.glover@fco.gsi.gov.uk; ukrep@fco.gov.uk; charles.moore@fco.gov.uk

3. Take direct action – join us at 12pm on Thursday 10th December outside the gates of Downing Street (off Whitehall) to demonstrate and show the Moroccan authorities that they must act. Please wear black!





More Info

The Human rights situation in Morocco is dire with torture, rape, disappearance, false imprisonment, and unfair trials commonplace and [i]have suffered a real regression in the last few weeks.[ii]

Aminatou, alongside many of the Saharawi people has suffered before. In 1987, aged 20, she "disappeared" and was tortured by the Moroccan secret police for four years for advocating independence. In 2005 she was jailed for seven months after being beaten by a Moroccan policeman during a demonstration protesting against the Moroccan occupation.

I was kidnapped and detained in prison for 4 years. I was blindfolded continuously throughout this time, and spent 9 months in solitary confinement…sometimes we would be forced to face the wall with our hands tied and spend the whole night standing on one foot. If we fell, we were tortured...the threat of rape meant we were afraid to sleep…my family, including my young children had no idea of my whereabouts."[iii]

In a cruel twist on Friday, her supporters including her 2 children were jubilant as the Spanish authorities told Aminatou she could return home only to be distraught when the Moroccan authorities refused to allow the plane meant to be taking her home to leave.

Her deportation has been condemned by human rights organisations including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.[iv] Morocco has been repeatedly asked to allow her to return home including by The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Jean Ping and UN Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres[v]but is refusing to do so and is prepared to let her die.

Her campaign has attracted high profile support including actors Javier Bardem, Juliet Stevenson and Terry Jones, film directors Pedro Almodovar and Ken Loach, musicians Manu Chao and Brian Eno and Nobel Literature Laureate, Jose Salamango.







Media coverage

This has made international headlines with front-page news in Spanish newspapers. For a l selection of coverage in English see:



Afrik.com: Western Sahara: Joy turns to anger

Afrik.com: British MPs support Haidar

The Guardian, Hunger Striker

The Guardian, Nobel nominee hunger strike fears

BBC, Morocco demands apology from hunger strike activist

Concert backs 'Gandhi of Sahara'

The Observer on Dec 6

The Independent Marooned at Lanzarote airport, the 'Gandhi of the Western Sahara'

Associated Press

Statements of Concern

UN commissioner for Refugees

Statement from the African Union

Statement from the South African Government

Statement from Amnesty International

Statement from Human Rights Watch Morocco: Reverse Expulsion of Sahrawi Activist

Human Rights Watch article on escalating Moroccan repression

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A Tale of Two Human Rights Awardees: Steven Zunes

A Tale of Two Human Rights Awardees
Stephen Zunes | December 2, 2009
Editor: John Feffer

Foreign Policy In Focus www.fpif.org

The annual Robert F. Kennedy Award ceremony took place at the White House this year for the first time in its 28-year history. Also for the first time, the president of the United States was there to honor the awardees.
This year's winner was the group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), represented by Magodona Mahlangu and Jenni Williams.Since its founding six years ago, WOZA has campaigned against domestic violence and rape, for rebuilding their country's crumbling health and education systems, and for ending government repression. Despite their commitment to nonviolence, WOZA activists have been routinely threatened, abducted, and beaten, and over 3,000 of its members have been detained or imprisoned. This show of support from President Obama is particularly important in light of the trial of the two WOZA activists, scheduled to begin next week, for "conduct likely to cause a breach of [the] peace," which could result in a five-year prison sentence if convicted.
Such public support from the White House is in stark contrast with its silence on the fate of last year's winner, Aminatou Haidar, who is widely known as the Saharan Gandhi. Earlier in November, when she was returning from the United States after receiving the Civil Courage Award from the Train Foundation, Moroccan occupation authorities arrested and expelled Haidar from her homeland of Western Sahara.
Belated Response
Haidar is Western Sahara's leading human rights campaigner. She has led the nonviolent struggle to free her people from an illegal 34-year Moroccan occupation, and was nominated on several occasions for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Like many Western Saharans who travel abroad, she declared Western Sahara as her country of origin on the immigration entry form when she landed at the airport in El Aioun, in the occupied territory. This time, however, Moroccan authorities confiscated her Moroccan passport, held her overnight for interrogation, and — claiming she had renounced her Moroccan citizenship — expelled her to Spain's Canary Islands. It is a direct violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention for an occupying power to expel anyone from their country of origin.
For nearly two weeks, the State Department was silent on Haidar's fate. It spoke out only this past Thursday, as Haidar's physical well-being came into question when she entered the eighth day of a hunger strike. Spokesman Ian Kelly expressed U.S. concerns about her health situation, but simply called for "a speedy determination of her legal status." Rather than calling on Moroccan authorities to live up to their international legal obligations, Kelly instead appeared let the Moroccans determin her status. The Moroccans "determined" that she is persona non grata, and has no right to return.
The RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights, which grants the annual award, has sent its director and senior advocacy director to the Canary Islands to be with Haidar, now entering the third week of her fast in the Lanzarote Airport. They also called upon UN Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay to immediately investigate the circumstances of Haidar's forced exile and to establish a formal mechanism for protecting the human rights of the people of Western Sahara. However, despite the RFK Center's efforts and those of Kerry Kennedy, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and others, the Obama administration has refused to demand Haidar's return.
It was Leahy who, standing in for his ailing colleague Edward Kennedy at last year's ceremony, praised Haidar's struggle for human rights against Moroccan repression and promised that, with the incoming Obama administration, "help was on the way." Unfortunately, Obama ended up appointing Hillary Clinton, a longtime supporter of the Moroccan occupation, to oversee his foreign policy.
Currying Favor with Morocco
Indeed, Secretary of State Clinton may bear partial responsibility for Haidar's situation. The activist's arrest and expulsion is part of a broader Moroccan crackdown that appears to have received Clinton's endorsement during a visit to Morocco early last month. Rather than joining Amnesty International and other human rights groups in condemning the increase in the already-severe repression in the occupied Western Sahara, Clinton instead chose to offer unconditional praise for the Moroccan government's human rights record. Just days before her arrival, Moroccan authorities arrested seven other nonviolent activists from Western Sahara — Ahmed Alansari, Brahim Dahane, Yahdih Ettarouzi, Saleh Labihi, Dakja Lashgar, Rachid Sghir, and Ali Salem Tamek — on trumped-up charges of high treason. Amnesty International has declared the seven activists (who are currently awaiting trial) prisoners of conscience, and called for their unconditional release. But Clinton decided to ignore the plight of these and other political prisoners held in Moroccan jails.
Under such circumstances, it appears that the Moroccan authorities decided they need not fear a negative reaction from Washington for engaging in further repression, especially since the United States has given the country billions of dollars in military assistance since its conquest of Western Sahara in 1975. International law requires that the people of non-self-governing territories such as Western Sahara deserve the right of self-determination, confirmed in the case of Western Sahara by a landmark opinion of the International Court of Justice. However, Clinton — in an interview during her recent visit — appears to have endorsed Morocco's plans for annexing the territory under a dubious "autonomy" plan. Though a series of unanimous UN Security Council resolutions supported by previous U.S. administrations have called for a UN-supervised referendum on the fate of the territory, Clinton has simply called for "mediation" between the Moroccan kingdom and the exiled nationalist Polisario Front, a process that would not offer the people of the territory a say in their future.
I have worked with both Jenni Williams and Aminatou Haidar. They are both deserving of the RFK Prize, and they both deserve the support of the U.S. government as well. A test of a government's sense of justice is whether it sees human rights as a universal principle or simply as a political tool to advance its foreign policy agenda. The Obama administration appears to have opted for the latter. It is easy to support human rights activists like the women of WOZA, since they are battling against a regime opposed by the United States. When it comes to human rights activists who challenge a U.S. ally, however, the Obama administration appears no different than previous administrations in tolerating their oppression.
Stephen Zunes is a Foreign Policy in Focus senior analyst. He is a professor of Politics and chair of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco and is the author, along with Jacob Mundy, of the forthcoming Western Sahara: Nationalism, Conflict, and International Accountability (Syracuse University Press).

Thursday, November 26, 2009

letter from New York Bar Association (Lawyers Association )


PATRICIA M. HYNES
PRESIDENT
Phone: (212) 382-6700
Fax: (212) 768-8116
phynes@nycbar.org
November 25, 2009
H.E. Abbas El Fassi c/o Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco 1601 Twenty First Street, NW Washington, DC 20009 Fax: 202-265-0161
H.E. Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero
President of the Government
Avda. Puerta de Hierro, s/n.
28071 Madrid
Spain
Fax: (+34) 913-900-217
Email: jlrzapatero@presidencia.gob.es
Your Excellencies:
I write on behalf of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York (“the Association”) to express our concern about the situation of Ms. Aminatou Haidar, Chairwoman of the Collectif des Défenseurs Sahraouis des Droits de l’Homme – CODESA (Collective of Sahrawi Human Rights Defenders) and a prominent human rights defender in Western Sahara. The Association is concerned about her safety and about the legality of her expulsion to Lanzarote (Spain). Given the serious nature of this matter, the Association respectfully urges you to take all necessary measures to ensure that Ms. Haidar can promptly return to Laayoune (Western Sahara) and rejoin her family.
The Association is an independent non-governmental organization with more than 23,000 members in over 50 countries. Founded in 1870, the Association has a long history of dedication to human rights, notably through its Committee on International Human Rights, which investigates and reports on human rights conditions around the world. The Association also follows legal and policy developments in Africa through its Committee on African Affairs. Similarly, the Association’s United Nations Committee follows key international developments throughout the world. All three of these Committees have identified Ms. Haidar’s situation as an urgent matter.
Since the eruption of the Western Sahara conflict in 1975, when Morocco first asserted its sovereignty over the territory, there have been consistent reports of human rights violations by Morocco against the Saharawi people of Western Sahara. In 2006, the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights identified the human rights situation in the region as a "serious concern" and called for the creation of a mechanism for ensuring adequate and continuous monitoring in both occupied territories and in refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria. While the Association is not taking a
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position on the issue of Western Sahara's sovereignty, the Association does feel strongly that human rights in the region be respected.
Ms. Haidar is a prominent human rights defender in Western Sahara. She was awarded the 2006 Juan Maria Bandres Human Rights Award (Spain), the 2007 Silver Rose Award (Austria), the 2008 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, and the aforementioned 2009 Civil Courage Prize. She was also nominated for the European Parliament Sakharov Prize in 2005, for the Amnesty International USA’s Ginetta Sagan Fund Award, and for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize. The Association is concerned that Ms. Haidar was detained, expelled, and denied return to Western Sahara for her human rights work in Western Sahara.
According to news reports, Ms. Haidar was arrested on November 13, 2009 by Moroccan authorities upon her arrival at the airport of Laayoune (Western Sahara) together with two Spanish journalists, Mr. Pedro Barbadillo and Mr. Pedro Guillén. The company was travelling through Las Palmas from the United States, where Ms. Haidar recently was awarded the Civil Courage Prize by the Train Foundation for her peaceful advocacy for human rights of the Sahrawi people. It was further reported that, while the two Spanish journalists were released after several hours, Ms. Haidar was expelled from the country to Lanzarote (Spain) after her passport was confiscated by the Moroccan authorities. According to reports, Ms. Haidar declared Western Sahara and not Morocco as her country on the immigration entry form she completed prior to disembarkation at the airport in Laayoune, which she had done in the past, and the Moroccan authorities deemed it a renunciation of her Moroccan citizenship. Ms. Haidar started a hunger strike at the airport of Lanzarote after Spanish authorities refused to allow her return to Laayoune because she was unable to produce her passport. It is further reported that Spanish authorities forcefully intervened to end her hunger strike because of serious concerns about her health.
The Association is concerned that the forced expulsion of Ms. Haidar by the Moroccan authorities was illegal. According to Article 12 (4) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”), which Morocco ratified on May 3, 1979, no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country. The confiscation of Ms. Haidar’s passport constitutes a clear and severe restriction on her ability to leave Spain and to return to her country of citizenship, and consequently amounts to a breach of Morocco’s international law obligations.
With regard to Spain, we are concerned that the denial by the Spanish authorities of Ms. Haidar’s return to Western Sahara is illegal. Article 12 (2) of the ICCPR, which Spain ratified on April 27, 1977, stipulates that everyone shall be free to leave any country. Spain’s obstruction to let Ms. Haidar leave Lanzarote therefore constitutes a breach of this provision. In addition, Spain seems to have violated its own Spanish law on Foreigners (Ley Orgánica 4/2000 of January 11, 2000, also known as Ley de Extranjería de España (“Law”)). According to Article 25 (1) of the Law, foreigners need a valid passport or travel document to be able to enter the country. At the time Ms. Haidar arrived at Lanzarote, her passport had already been confiscated and thus she was no longer in possession of a valid travel document. Nevertheless, as news reports state, Spain let her enter its territory because Ms. Haidar has a resident’s permit to obtain medical treatment there. If this document was sufficient for the Spanish authorities to allow Ms. Haidar to enter Spanish territory, it can be argued that this document should equally be sufficient to leave the territory in order for her to return to Western Sahara. In addition, Article 28 (2) of the Law states that only in exceptional circumstances of national security or public health can the Minister of Interior Affairs prohibit the departure of a foreigner out of Spanish territory. To the Association’s knowledge, no official reason has been given to prohibit Ms. Haidar’s departure out of Spain, therefore making the prohibition of Ms. Haidar’s departure from Spain illegal.
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We believe that Ms. Haidar’s expulsion and denial to return to Western Sahara violates international and national law. Accordingly, we respectfully request that Your Excellencies take all necessary measures to ensure the immediate return of Ms. Haidar to Laayoune.
Respectfully submitted,
Patricia M. Hynes
cc:
Excmo. Sr. D. Francisco Caamaño Dominguez
Ministerio de Justicia
C/ San Bernando 45
28015 Madrid, Spain
Fax: (+34) 91-390-22-44
Email: ministro@mju.es
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
U.S. Department of State 2201 C Street NW Washington, DC 20520
Fax: 202-647-1722
H.E. Taieb Fassi-Fihri
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation
Avenue F. Roosevelt
Rabat, Morocco
Fax: (+212) 377-65-508
Email: ministere@maec.gov.ma
H.E. Aziz Mekouar
Ambassador of Morocco to the U.S.
Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco
1601 Twenty First Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009
Fax: 202-265-0161
H.E. Abdelwahed Radi
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
Place el Mamounia
Rabat, Morocco
Fax: (+212) 537-73-07-72
Email: ccdh@ccdh.org.ma
European Parliament
Subcommittee on Human Rights
Rue Wiertz
B-1047 Brussels
Belgium
Fax: (+32) 2-284-90-70
E-mail: xp-DROI@europarl.europa.eu
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Amnesty International
1 Easton Street London WC1X 0DW, UK
Fax: (+44) 20-79561157
Ahmed Herzenni - President of the Human Rights Advisory Council
Conseil consultatif des droits de l’Homme
Place Achouhada- BP 1341
10 001 Rabat, Morocco
Fax: (+212) 537-72-68-56

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

ACTRESS AND RFK LEADERSHIP COUNCIL MEMBER GLORIA REUBEN ON AMINATOU

ACTRESS AND RFK LEADERSHIP COUNCIL MEMBER GLORIA REUBEN ON AMINATOU
HAIDAR'S EXPULSION FROM WESTERN SAHARA AND HUNGER STRIKE 11/25/2009
The following is a statement from Gloria Reuben, Emmy nominated actress, singer,
philanthropist and member of the RFK Center Leadership Council on the expulsion
and consequent hunger strike of RFK Human Rights Laureate, Aminatou Haidar:

"The courage, strength and determination that embody Aminatou Haidar’s spirit
are the things that are keeping her alive, for she is undertaking the most
intense challenge… being on a hunger strike for more than 10 days, and counting.

The Moroccan authority’s claim that Ms. Haidar renounced her citizenship by
writing on her immigration form that Western Sahara is her homeland, is
completely absurd. They must be held accountable for their actions of detention,
interrogation and forced deportation.

Ms. Haidar is surely hanging on by a thread physically. Her continuous and
fearless fight for human rights for her fellow countrymen and women… and in turn
for all humankind…cannot be in vain. Let us unite and stand up for her now, as
she has done for countless others throughout her life."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mohamed Baikam et Ahmed Salem Fahime: C.V




الاسم : محمد البيكم
تاريخ الازدياد : 1979 لكويرة
معلومات : تعرض للاعتقال والتوقيف 6 مرات 2006/2007 ،تم طرده من عمله في مقهي الأنترنت بعد إقفاله لمدة 35 يوم بتهمة المس بالوحدة الترابية وممارسة أنشطة معادية ، تم قطع راتبه في بلدية لكويرة 2007 ،التهديد بالتصفية الجسدية من طرف مسؤوليين أمنين ، تعرض للطرد من الإدارة المغربية ومنعه من الحصول علي اوراقه الثبوتية بتهتمة الانفصال ،تعرضت عائلته للضغط كبير ، ممارسة الضغط عليه من طرف مدير المخابرات ووالي المدينة ومحاولة شراء ذمته بمقابل مادي وتجنيده للعمل في الاستخبارات المغربية مقابل الحصول علي منزل ووظيفية ومبالغ نقدية .


بطاقة تعريف عن الناشط الحقوقي والمعتقل السياسي "أحمد سالم عبد الحي " *البوروتو *

الاسم الكامل :أحمد سالم
الأسم العائلي : فهيم
تاريخ الإزدياد 1950 العيون المحتلة
العمل :متقاعد من شركة الفسفاط بوكراع
الحالة العائلية : متزوج وأب لعشرة أبناء
الصفة : ناشط حقوقي ومعتقل سياسي وعضو في الجمعية الصحراوية asvdh
الاعتقال السياسي : تم اعتقاله في شهر 3 من سنة 1976 بيسسيمي العيون المحتلة ،الاعتقال الثاني يوم 11 فبراير 1977 الحبس لكحل العيون المحتلة ،الاعتقال الثالث يوم 25 في شهر 9 من سنة 1980 حيث قضي 9 أشهر في الدار البيضاء بكوميسرية دار مولاي اعلي الشريف ليقضي 9 أشهر في سجن أكدز ،10 سنوات قلعة مكونة .

The Arrest of Two Sahrawi Activists: Mohamed Baikam and Ahmed Salem Fahime






The Arrest of two Saharwi Activists at the Sahraoui Mauritanian borders today:


Two Saharwis have been arrested late this afternoon by the Moroccan authorities at the Sahraui Mauritanian borders when they were coming back from Mauritania when they were trying to enter the western Sahara occupied territory. Mohamed Baikam and Ahmed Salem Fahime are known political and human rights activists who were always calling for the right of self determination for Saharwis and always worked secretly to unveil the atrocities committed by the Moroccan State. They were arrested today November 21st,2009 when they were driving back from Mauritania to join their families in the Western Sahara . Moahmed Baikam was born in 1979 in Laguira , Western Sahara and is a member of the Sahraui Committed Agianst Torutre in Dakhla city. Ahmed Salem Fahime is a former disappeared and was in the secret horrible detention center called : Meggouna. He was born in Laaoyune in 1950. They both feared the arrest, but they still insisted on going back to the Occupied Territory of Western Sahara.
We urge you all to take action and demand their release. We also implore you to investigate their fate as we fear for their lives.
Attached is their passports copies along with a CV of Mohamed Baikam and his picture.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Human Rights Watch: Reverse Expulsion of Sahrawi Activist

Morocco: Reverse Expulsion of Sahrawi Activist
Spain Must Also Press and Facilitate Aminatou Haidar’s Return Home

(New York, November 19, 2009) – Morocco must reverse its expulsion of Sahrawi rights activist Aminatou Haidar and allow her to enter her country of nationality, Human Rights Watch said today. Spain must intercede with Morocco to ensure her return, Human Rights Watch added.

Morocco refused Haidar, who is president of the Collective of Sahrawi Human Rights Defenders (CODESA), re-entry into Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara and forced her onto a flight to Spain on November 14 after she listed her place of residence as “Western Sahara” on a border control form. Haidar holds Moroccan citizenship and was traveling on a Moroccan passport. Morocco claims the former Spanish colony as part of Morocco, whereas many Sahrawis, including Haidar, reject Morocco’s claim in the absence of a referendum on self-determination.

The expulsion of Haidar comes at a time of mounting repression by Morocco of peaceful activism by advocates of self-determination for Western Sahara.

“Morocco cannot summarily denaturalize and deport its own citizens because of the way they fill out entry forms at the airport,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “They must let Haidar return home and stop harassing her for peaceful advocacy of Sahrawi self-determination.”

Moroccan Foreign Minister Taïeb Fassi Fihri said on November 15 that Haidar, who was returning from a trip abroad November 13, effectively “waived” her Moroccan citizenship by writing “Western Sahara” as her place of residence on her entry form. Haidar refused to back down when senior officials, including a security commissioner for the region and a crown prosecutor, came to the airport and warned her of the consequences of her actions.

Police detained Haidar at the airport overnight, then confiscated her passport and national identity card before putting her on a plane to Arrecife in the Canary Islands (Spain), where she is presently on a hunger strike at Lanzarote airport demanding the right to return to her homeland.

The United Nations classifies Western Sahara as a “non-self-governing territory” and does not recognize de jure Moroccan sovereignty over it. Morocco has proposed regional autonomy for Western Sahara under Moroccan rule, a solution rejected by the Polisario, the Sahrawi independence movement based in Algeria, which favors a vote on self-determination that could lead to independence for the territory.

Meanwhile, Morocco administers the contested territory as if it were part of Morocco. This includes the issuance of Moroccan passports to its residents, few of whom have access to any other form of travel documents. Haidar has no other passport.

Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Morocco has ratified, states in part, “Everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own…. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country.”

Moroccan authorities have the right to require all persons entering territory under their control to provide certain information and answer questions. However, to summarily confiscate a passport and expel a citizen for filling out her address in a way that displeases authorities is a punishment that is both excessive and politically motivated. Such measures should be undertaken – if at all – as part of a procedure where the concerned party’s due process rights are fully respected. If authorities consider that Haidar has committed an infraction of the law, they should grant her entry and allow her to reside at her home while they pursue their investigation.

Spain, meanwhile, shares in responsibility for the impasse because it admitted Haidar into its territory even though she arrived against her will and carried no passport, and because Spain’s foreign ministry has reportedly said she cannot leave Spain because she lacks a passport.

Given that Spanish authorities are aware of the arbitrary way that Morocco confiscated Haidar’s documents and expelled her, Spain should allow her to exercise her stated wish to board a flight from Spain to El-Ayoun, and thereby exercise her rights under article 12 of the ICCPR.

“Spain should avoid complicity in Morocco’s repressive behavior,” said Whitson. “It should let Haidar return to the land of her citizenship.”

CODESA, the human rights organization over which Haidar presides, has seen its legal registration blocked arbitrarily by Moroccan authorities, who allege that its leaders espouse the cause of Sahrawi independence and are therefore in violation of Moroccan laws prohibiting “attacks” on Morocco’s “territorial integrity.” Haidar’s trip abroad included a stopover in New York to receive the Train Foundation’s Civil Courage Prize, one of many awards Haidar has received from international organizations.

The expulsion of Haidar, a 42-year-old mother of two, is an unprecedented measure but only one of several acts of repression against Sahrawi activists carried out by the Moroccan government since October. King Mohammed VI of Morocco announced the new hard-line approach in his speech November 6 marking the 34th anniversary of “the Green March,” Morocco’s entry into Western Sahara to claim its control over it:

Let me clearly say there is no more room for ambiguity or deceit: either a person is Moroccan or is not. There can be no more duplicity or evading of duties. Now is the time for clear, unambiguous stances, and for responsible conduct. One is either a patriot or a traitor. There is no halfway house. One cannot enjoy the rights and privileges of citizenship, only to abuse them and conspire with the enemies of the homeland.

On October 6, Moroccan police prevented five Sahrawi activists from leaving Western Sahara for Mauritania, confiscating their passports and sending them back to El-Ayoun, without providing an official reason for the measure. Other Sahrawi activists have been barred from traveling abroad, including Sultana Khaya on October 10 and students Hayat Rguibi and Nguiya Hawassi, who were turned back November 18 at Casablanca airport as they prepared to depart for Great Britain.

On October 8, the security services arrested seven Sahrawis upon their return from visiting the Tindouf refugee camps in Algeria where, Moroccan authorities allege, they met with “bodies opposing Morocco,” presumably a reference to Polisario leaders. The pro-government press accused the seven of also meeting with Algerian security officials. The judge investigating their case has referred it to a military court, a rare and ominous development for civilians accused of politically motivated offenses.

On at least seven occasions since October 19, police have interrupted visits by foreign human rights delegations or journalists to the homes of known Sahrawi activists, informing them that from now on, all such visits must receive prior authorization.

Haidar, reached by telephone on November 17, said that she frequently filled out the entry form at El-Ayoun airport in the same way in the past without being detained or questioned. This time, however, she sensed trouble upon deplaning on November 13 because of the heavier-than-usual security presence at this small and normally quiet airport. Haidar said that as soon as she handed in the entry form, the police took her aside for what ended up being 12 hours of questioning on topics ranging from her views on the Western Sahara conflict to her various activities during her month-long trip abroad. Haidar said that while she refused to change how she had completed the form, she made no statement renouncing Moroccan citizenship. When the questioning ended, she signed a written record of it and was informed that the police would keep her passport and national identity card and that she was being placed on the next flight to Spain.

“Morocco needs to find a solution to the crisis they have provoked by expelling Aminatou Haidar because of her political beliefs,” said Whitson. “And that solution must involve allowing Haidar to return home and ending the current crackdown on Sahrawis who peacefully espouse the cause of self-determination.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

La Fundación Robert Kennedy lanza una campaña para exigir a Naciones Unidas una investigación sobre el caso de Haidar

La Fundación Robert Kennedy lanza una campaña para exigir a Naciones Unidas una investigación sobre el caso de Haidar

LAS PALMAS DE GRAN CANARIA, 18 Nov. (EUROPA PRESS) -

La Fundación Robert Kennedy por la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos ha lanzado una campaña en Internet para exigir a la alta comisionada de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos, Navanethem Pillay, que abra una investigación sobre la expulsión de la activista saharaui Aminatou Haidar de Marruecos, según informó hoy Coalición Canaria (CC) en un comunicado en el que animó a la ciudadanía a sumarse a la iniciativa.
El pasado viernes, los periodistas españoles Pedro Barbadillo y Pedro Guillén y la activista por los derechos del pueblo saharaui Aminatou Haidar permanecieron retenidos por las autoridades marroquíes en el aeropuerto de El Aaiún (Sáhara Occidental) donde fueron interrogados por los servicios de inteligencia de Marruecos bajo sospecha de cargos todavía desconocidos.
Barbadillo, Guillén y Haidar fueron separados y estuvieron en diferentes puntos del aeropuerto tras ser abordados por las autoridades dentro del avión en el que acababan de aterrizar procedentes de Gran Canaria, en torno al mediodía del viernes, 13 de noviembre, según se informó desde la Asociación de Amistad del Pueblo Saharaui de Sevilla (AAPSS).
Por su parte, el mismo viernes por la noche, los dos periodistas regresaron a Gran Canaria, mientras que Haidar fue enviada a Lanzarote al día siguiente, donde ha permanecido hasta estos momentos en espera de poder regresar a El Aaiún, y donde ha iniciado una huelga de hambre.
La activista ha recibido desde el lunes la visita de un sanitario de Cruz Roja que recomendó la ingestión de agua con azúcar y otras bebidas ricas en sales minerales para evitar un mayor deterioro de su estado de salud. "Tiene una salud delicada. Padece una úlcera y ha pasado mala noche", explicó un portavoz de la comunidad saharaui en Lanzarote en declaraciones a Europa Press.

Friday, November 13, 2009

APSO : Declaration sue l 'arrestation de Minatou Haidar.

Déclaration APSO

Vendredi 13 novembre 2009, à 12h30 GMT, Madame Aminatou Haidar a été arrêtée dans un impressionnant déploiement de forces de police Marocaines, à l’Aéroport d’El Aaiun, au Sahara Occidental,.

Madame Aminatou Haidar est une grande défenseure des droits de l’Homme et de la cause de son pays, le Sahara Occidental, occupé par le Maroc depuis 1975. Elle a subit comme d’autres, les coup et les tortures et une disparition forcée pendant 4 ans, pour sa résistance pacifique et son opinion politique.

Son courage dans ce combat pacifique a été plusieurs fois internationalement reconnu et soutenu.
Elle a été honorée en 2006 du Prix pour les droits humains Juan Maria Bandres, en 2007 du Prix Silver Rose, dans la catégorie lutte pour la liberté et la dignité humaine, en 2008 du prix Robert F. Kennedy (RFK), en octobre 2009 du prix du Courage Civil de la fondation John Train.
Elle a d’autre part été nominée par le Parlement Européen pour le Prix des droits humains Andrei Sakarov, par la branche américaine d’Amnesty International pour le Ginetta Sagan Fund Award mais aussi pour le Prix Nobel de la Paix.

Son arrestation intervient alors qu’une très inquiétante recrudescence d’arrestations de responsable d’association de défense des droits de l’homme, d’étudiants, d’intellectuels sahraouis, de harcèlement de la jeunesse sahraouie, est orchestrée depuis le mois de septembre 2009 par les autorités marocaines.

Le récent discours du roi, appel à la haine civile contre un ennemi intérieur, les sahraouis, qui revendiquent la juste application de leur droit légitime à l’autodétermination et dont le Maroc est le colonisateur, sert de justification à des actes officiels et domestiques de barbares discriminations et violences arbitraires des Marocains sur les Sahraouis.

Le Sahara Occidental est un territoire non autonome selon l’ONU, en attente de décolonisation depuis 1963. L’invasion violente du territoire par le Maroc en 1975 a été condamnée sans relâche par l’ONU et le conseil de sécurité. Néanmoins, le sentiment d’impunité laissé par l’absence de réelles mesures de coercition internationales contre le Maroc, l’autorise à des extrêmes d’inhumanité contre la population sahraouie n’ayant pas fui vers les campements de réfugiés.

Nous, APSO et réseau sud de la France, espérons que ces actes graves contre des citoyens courageux et résistants pour leurs droits et leur identité ne resteront pas ignorés plus longtemps de quiconque est attaché aux valeurs fondamentales de l’humanité

Monday, October 12, 2009

Frank Rudy on Washington Times Newspaper

Letter to The Editor
October 11, 2009
The Washington Times



Deja Vu All Over Again

The United Nations just fired Peter Galbraith, the top American in the UN
mission in Afghanistan. Galbraith's offense: He blew the whistle on the
country's August 20 elections. Writing to UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon,
Galbraith said that he was not for or against any candidate, but he could not
overlook the election fraud without compromising the mission's neutrality. His
boss, Norwegian diplomat, Kai Eide, had other ideas, blocking Galbraith from
stopping the fraud and ordering him and other staffers not even to discuss it.
Eide even went so far, Galbraith said, as telling President Karzai after the
election:"I am biased in your favor," meaning, according to Eide, not biased in
a bad way, but in a good way. In an interview with the BBC, Galbraith said his
removal sends "a terrible signal to the world" about the UN. For many of us,
it's deja vu all over again.

Not so long ago, the State Department named me to run a referendum in Western
Sahara, in a UN Peacekeeping mission called MINURSO. Western Sahara is not
Afghanistan, and most people couldn't find it on a map. The referendum was to
allow the Saharawis, the people of Western Sahara, a country the size of
Colorado, to decide whether to be independent or part of Morocco, its northern
neighbor that had invaded it in 1976.

When I arrived in Western Sahara, the Moroccans were still occupying the country
and controlling everything, including who among the Saharawis got to register to
vote. Only Saharawis with Moroccan escorts could approach the registration site,
and once registered, those same Moroccan escorts often confiscated their
registration certificates, their license to vote.

It got worse. The KIng of Morocco was running the referendum through a
high-ranking thug from their Security Services, a Captain Segura type who
closely resembled that character from OUR MAN IN HAVANA. He would show various
visitors around the UN registration center which he described as chez moi. He
was quite right.

Morocco benefited by delaying the referendum, forever, if possible, because
their brutal treatment of the Saharawis would sink them at the polls. Watching
the Moroccans terrify the locals was like watching the Mafia work the
waterfront. Saharawis would buttonhole us quietly and ask us to keep an eye on
them in case the Moroccans "disappeared" them. It was like being back in South
Africa, listening to South African blacks, during apartheid, talking, in the
security of the US Embassy, about the brutality of the Special Branch.

Morocco stopped the registration for a week disputing an adverb used in a
MINURSO schedule. Absurd, of course, but at the cost to the UN of $100,000 a
day. Morocco bugged MINURSO's phones and regularly searched the UN's hotel
rooms. Captain Segura ordered all UN insignias removed from the UN's buildings,
and MINURSO's director obliged reflexively. People calling themselves TV
journalists videotaped every Saharawi who came to be registered, but the
journalists turned out to be Moroccan State Security keeping tabs on the locals.
Not a second appeared on television.

All these things were open and notorious, and towards the end of my assignment I
was reporting simultaneously to the MINURSO mission director and Captain Segura.
Not even the pretense of UN partiality remained. I could not continue in such a
mission and left at the end of a year. I did send a note to Kofi Annan. then
head of UN Peacekeeping, outlining what I had seen and offering to brief him.
His response: My complaints were "not serious."

I testified under oath about all this before a House committee the following
year, and the New York Times, The Economist, Human Rights Watch, et al. backed
up what I said. It didn't make a difference. The Moroccans kept the referendum
from happening, and efforts to revive it go nowhere.

Peter Galbraith is a lot more important than I, and working in a more important
place. But some things don't change. The UN's still stifling the truth and
muzzling those who try to do the right thing.

Frank Ruddy
U.S. Ambassador (retired)

Friday, September 18, 2009

"Stolen": Stolen Truth??

I am an Associate Professor of anthropology at the University of Western Ontario, I have been conducting research in the Sahrawi camps since 2002. My research involved several visits to the camps during which time I lived with Sahrawi families. The last time I was there was May and June 2009.

As some of you might know, anthropological research involves participating in the daily life and activities of ordinary people. I have done that many times and have lived with numerous families: I slept in their tents, ate their food, helped in cleaning, shopping, etc. I joined members of the family when they visited other families, or travelled to other camps. We talked and discussed life in general, political issues, social and cultural life, past and present, and of course personal matters. In other words, families were hospitable and adopted me as one of them for the period I was there.

Surely, if there was any form of slavery, I would have observed that by now, that is seven years of work among the Sahrawis. I have talked to and interviewed so many Sahrawis, young and old, men and women of all backgrounds, would it not be almost impossible for anyone, let alone an observant anthropologist to note there was "slavery"?

I have written several articles on Western Sahara refugees, mostly about the success of the Polisario in acting as a catalyst in building a new society, based on popular participation and democratic principles. In fact, a central principle in the Polisario's Program of National Action was the prohibition of slavery, or any forms of exploitation and oppression (see the Sahrawi Constitution, ch. 26/27, since the early seventies). It also played a significant role in advancing and supporting Sahrawi women's struggle for equality.

Anyone who knows even a little about the Sahrawi struggle for independence, is sure to realize that "Stolen" is a cheap piece of propaganda and baseless allegations. Indeed, it has nothing to do with the realities on the ground. It is appalling that the film-makers, like vultures, have instrumentalized and abused the suffering of the Sahrawis, and worse their hospitality to produce falsehoods. I am certain, however, that the facts will be exposed and the film will be forgotten as an unsuccessful attempt at distorting the Sahrawi history and reality.

Randa Farah,Ph.D.
University of Western Ontario,
Anthropology Department
London, Ontario, Canada

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Real Ugly Truth about the Movie :" Stolen"

Stolen has been discredited and many queries about the bona fides of the film remain unanswered including false translation, no legal releases, paid interviewees, protesting interviewees, blurred maps, history and countries, the Moroccan involvement and many other issues. After its screening in Sydney in June this year Stolen was modified and shown during the Melbourne International Film Festival in July. The reasons for the changes made to the film are due to serious problems related to its production.

Due to serious copyright infringements, like illegally using interviews shot by other film makers, the film has been changed since its Sydney screening. However, the mistranslation, invented subtitles and scenes remain in the film. A disclaimer was added to the film since its screening in Sydney which states that the content of the film does not reflect the views of Screen Australia or the Australian Government.

However, the mistranslation, invented subtitles and scenes remain in the film.

The film purports to be an expose of slavery in the refugee camps near Tindouf, Algeria, where thousands of Saharawis, displaced by the Moroccan invasion of the Western Sahara, currently live. The film, alleging that so
me of these refugees are sla
ves has already caused great personal distress and sadness to the very refugees it purports to be helping. One of them, a key figure in the film Fetim Sellami, flew to Sydney and denounced the film when it was shown.
Fetim Sellami and other Saharawis included in the film did not give their informed consent to the film Stolen. Fetim has been destitute in the refugee camps all her adult life. Therefore, she is a powerless victim to the manipulation and deception of those behind Stolen.

A senior UN official, Ursula Abouchar, who appeared in the Sydney version has denounced the filmmakers for falsely using her interview and abusing what she said by editing and she has not given consent to her interview as the release the filmmakers gave her to sign is still with her.
In the film, there are inaccurate subtitles as well as distorted scenes with invented sub-titles. The translator, Oumar Sy, who the filmmakers claimed certified the translations for the subtitles, has denounced the filmmakers as falsifying what he said. The issue of translation in subtitles is very important since it reveals the essence of the allegations [of slavery] to be completely false.

Locations are muddled so that the film indicates, for example, that what occurs in Mauritania, another country, also occurs in the Saharawi refugee camps near Tindouf- Algeria.

The filmmakers, with these unfounded allegations, have abuse
d the human di
gnity of fine people already living in difficult circumstances, causing great distress to families and children.

For anyone interested in the film they can check a document a prepared by the Australia Western Sahara Association (AWSA). It is a detailed report and critique of Stolen, investigating the questionable methods and unethical practices from pre to post production used in the making of the film: http://awsa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/critique-of-stolen-ii.pdf and (www.awsa.org.au)

These are interesting links:

- http://www.abc.net.au/news/video/2009/06/15/2598994.htm (This is an interesting program on ABC TV 7.30 Report)

-http://media.smh.com.au/entertainment/red-carpet/sahara-slavery-fiercely

-denied-582354.html (people talking about the cash for comment)

-http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/timors-link-to-a-saharan-struggle-20090

721-dryz.html (Article by HE Jose Ramos Horta)

http://www.spectator.co.uk/australia/5289343/diary.thtml (Recent article in the Spectator).


Annex:

This is a summary of a document prepared by the Australia Western Sahara Association (AWSA). It is a detailed report and critique of a STOLEN, investigating the questionable methods and unethical practices from pre to post production used in the making of the film. The document can be accessed here: http://awsa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/critique-of-stolen-ii.pdf


u INACCURATE SUBTITLES & VOICE OV
ER : the translation of the dialogue (which is roughly one third Spanish and two thirds Hassaniya, the local dialect of Arabic) is seriously misleading in places, seemingly invented to suit the plot.

u CONSENT : the main subject Fetim Sellami, the alleged slave, realised that she and her family were being manipulated to speak on camera about slavery and their words were mistranslated and taken out of context. Feeling insulted and greatly hurt by the allegation, she withdrew all interviews with her and her family from the film. This was not done. None of the participants has ever signed a release form.

u REWARDS : the filmmakers deny that people interviewed were paid with money, however, generous gifts were given by the filmmakers to the subjects, (eg Matala and friends received a 2nd hand car). Violeta Ayala, one of the directors of the film admitted giving money to the Saharawis who came to Mauritania. Three young men, who travelled to Mauritania on a second visit, say they were paid 4000 euros .

u MISUSE OF MATERIAL Instances include: using copyright material without permission, use of interviews without consent, misuse of an interview with a United Nations High Commission for Refugees staff member, misuse of the US-based translator’s certificate. These are serious professional concerns.

Oumar Sy, Mauritanian translator in New York, asked by the film-makers to certify the translations in20the film, wrote on 9 July 2009:

“I would like to reaffirm that I did not certify that the translations, from Hassaniya into English of the final version of the film called “”Stolen” directed by Ms. Violeta Ayala and Mr. Dan Fallshaw and the produced by Mr. Tom Zubrycki, are correct.”

HE Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta, President of Timor Leste, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, when asked about Stolen in Melbourne 23 July 2009 said:

“I was in the camps and I am not naïve - I am always a very curious person… and at the Sahara camp I went visiting people in tents and talked with so many people……this is the first time I heard of it in the camps. It is totally an absurdity and made up, I guarantee you.

The Polisario is one of the most genuine liberation movements and very humanitarian.

I know when someone is deceiving me. I know how to ask questions and I would never, never turn a blind eye if I knew of any abuses in the Saharawi camps because I would be an accomplice by supporting a movement that I knew was committing these barbarities so it is totally unheard of. My experience being there – the experience of the UNHCR, International Red Cross, numerous NGOs, European parliamentarians, US Congressmen – was that no one was ever told about this.”

0AMr. Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees in a letter to the President of the Saharawi Republic, Mohamed Abdelaziz, 22 June 2009:

“We regret that in the film of Violeta Ayala and Dan Fallshaw, the comments of an official of the HCR have been presented out of their context. In the complete interview, of about 90 minutes long, with Mrs. Aboubacar, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Bureau, the latter reiterated strongly that if certain residual practices of slavery could still prevail in the sub-region of West Africa, she had no knowledge of such practices in the refugee camps of Tindouf.

The HCR has not seen the film before its release, and has not approved its content or conclusions either. The film does not reproduce faithfully the opinions of the HCR.

As you are aware, the HCR has established for a long time a presence in the refugee camps of Tindouf. It does not have any information that practices similar to slavery have taken place in the camps. In fact, no occurrence of this practice has been brought to the attention of the HCR. Had that been the case, I can assure you that the HCR would have raised the matter with the authorities concerned.”

Ms. Ursula Aboubakar, UNHCR, Deputy Director, Bureau for Middle East and North Africa, wrote to the filmmakers on 21 Jun 2009:

“I understood that despite my writte
n request to you for my formal clearance to use my voice=2
0or face in your documentary in the Tindouf camps you went ahead without my clearance, which I formally want to protest about. The release form you gave me for my signature is still with me.

Although I did not see the final version as shown in the Australia film festival, I had the opportunity through other channels to view the one you showed to our colleagues in the NY office which also may have ended up being the final version.

I strongly protest about the way you manipulated my one hour (or longer) interview in your film and the short compilation of sentences (in 2 minutes) of what I said.”

www.awsa.org.au

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ted Kennedy awarded the UNHCR Nansen Award Refugee Award

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees announced today that its annual Nansen
Refugee Award will be awarded to the late Senator Edward Kennedy for his
achievements as an unparalleled champion of refugee protection and assistance.
For years Kennedy fought for the rights of the Saharawi people and refugees
around the world. Press release, 15 Sept 2009. Published: 15.09 - 2009
13:32Printer version Press release, Norwegian Support Committee for
Western Sahara15 September 2009
"Ted Kennedy was a steadfast defender of the Saharawi people’s right to
determine its own future, in line with UN resolutions and international law. We
are very pleased that the UN High Commissioner honors Kennedy’s effort for
refugees around the world", said Ronny Hansen in The Norwegian Support Committee
for Western Sahara.
Some of Kennedy's Western Sahara statements
"Due to serious violations of the peace plan by the Government of Morocco, the
[MINURSO] observers have been prevented from fostering an atmosphere of
confidence and stability conducive to holding a free and fair
referendum"Statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Africa Subcommittee, 1
Oct 1992.
"The ongoing crisis in the Western Sahara raises serious questions regarding the
Government of Morocco's willingness to honor its international commitment to a
free and fair referendum in the Western Sahara."Statement, January 1994
"The International Court of Justice, the Organization of African Unity, the
United States, and many nations throughout the world have not recognized
Morocco's claim to the Western Sahara, but the Moroccan occupation
continues."Statement, June 1999
"Morocco gained the respect of the international community when it agreed in
1991 and again in 1997 to allow a referendum on the future of the Western
Sahara. These actions demonstrated an impressive commitment to the right of
self-determination for the people of the Western Sahara. The referendum is an
important part of the peace process, and I hope that it will take place as soon
as possible."Press release after meeting between Kennedy and King Mohammed VI,
22 June 2002.
See also statement from 2000, in which Kennedy demands that US Secretary of
State submits report to the Senate on progress of referendum.Time and again over
several decades, Edward Kennedy championed the Western Sahara cause in the US
Senate and the White House. He repeatedly criticized the US for not doing enough
to pressure Morocco and strengthen the UN effort.
In 2000 he debated the issue directly with the Moroccan King, Mohammed VI. “The
referendum is an important part of the peace process, and I hope that it will
take place as soon as possible”, Kennedy said in a statement after the meeting.
In announcing the 2009 Nansen award, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António
Guterres said: "Senator Kennedy stood out as a forceful advocate for those who
suddenly found themselves with no voice and no rights. Year after year, conflict
after conflict, he put the plight of refugees on the agenda and drove through
policies that saved and shaped countless lives."
The Nansen Refugee Award is given annually to an individual or organization for
outstanding work on behalf of refugees. Funded by Norway and Switzerland it was
created in 1954 in honor of Fridtjof Nansen, the legendary Norwegian polar
explorer and scientist, and the first High Commissioner for Refugees. In this
role, he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922.
Kennedy made an enormous effort to put the Western Sahara issue on the political
agenda. In 2008 he helped award the Saharawi human rights activist Aminatou
Haidar the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.
"We have lost a loud and clear voice for the Saharawi people, but rejoice today
in celebration of his life and service", said Hansen.
See UNHCR statement here: http://www.unhcr.org/4aaf5d4b6.html Contact: Ronny
Hansen President, The Norwegian Support Committee for Western
Sahararonnyha@gmail.com Phone: +47 94 25 02 70
The Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara is a membership based NGO
that works to promote the Sahrawi population’s right of self-determination and a
free Western Sahara. For more information, visit: www.vest-sahara.no
“As US. citizens, we are fortunate to live in a country founded on human rights
principles and the right to a government of our own choosing. Our democratic
ideals have inspired peoples in all hemispheres around the world. Elections
during the past twelve months in Russia, Burundi, Cambodia, Paraguay, and Yemen
are examples of the world-wide trend away from authoritarianism and toward
representative government. Sadly, this trend has not yet reached all regions of
the world. The indigenous Saharawi people in the Western Sahara have waited more
than 18 years to regain their right to self-determination. Hopefully, that right
will soon be restored to them. Since Morocco's invasion of the Western Sahara in
1975, King Hassan II has staged a long and costly war against the Saharawi
people to obtain permanent access to that territory's valuable natural
resources.” Ted Kennedy in the US Senate, January 1994.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Ngiya El Hawassi's Testimony

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbhrEgF4mLI


My name is nguia el hawasi
I was arrested several times, and the latest abduction was conducted on August 27th, 2009. Last Thursday, I was on a visit to Hasanna Aliya, saharawi activist, who was tortured by Moroccan police in the city of Tantan
After I left the house along with my friends Hayat Rguibi and Sadani Aliya. After getting out of the house, a police car stoppd nearby and was a Landrover model 110.Tthe officeron-board was Aziz Anouch and his colleague officer Khalid Barakat forced me into the car, and then drove me to the bank river of Sakia El Hamra near the middle school Allal ben abdalla .
They handed me over to other police officers in plain clothes who joined us soon after my abduction. They blindfolded my eyes, and began to beat me brutally while using verbal abusive, cursing.

Many other police agents joined the existing police gang namely agents belonging to DAG, DST Moroccan secret services .
I did not see them, but I distinguished their voices and they asked my many questions such as:
What are the dialogues that take place amongst the Sahrawis on the return of the saharawi weld swilam From the refugee camps?
I told him I was not in the city of Laayoune at this time. I was in the city of Agadir .
Then they asked to me: What do you think regarding this subject of defectors?
I told him that the Polisario was very democratic, and they do not know any form of dictatorship, and that Polisario gives everyone the right to go wherever they like and not like you you Moroccans who Prevent us from traveling to Britain, and kept us at the airport in el Masira in Agadir,. We were going to join a program to talk together on behalf of the young Sahrawi generations in the occupied Territory, and you the Moroccans, you showed the world that you are dictators. You did not let us travel, and traveling is a human right. After I told them these Answers, they went mad..
They said that the Saharawi human rights activists who Incites us to engage in peaceful Demonstrations, and they are the ones who support us and who
give us national flags to raise during the demonstrations.
I replied that nobody does Incites us, and we do all this only for the defense of our cause and our right and we simply express our views. It is spontaneous.
Then they asked me about the peaceful Demonstrations that I supposedly organized in the neighborhood of Matallah district in Laayoune and who was in it. The officers beat more in an attempt to tell them the names of persons involved.
I told him that the Saharawi people all take part in the uprisings, and I do not know any one of them. There young people, children and women and I was there to express my opinion and I had my flag Like all the Sahrawi.
He told me now we will record a video, and we need you to say that the Sahrawi human rights activists who Incites you in these Demonstrations are just a group of separatists.

After refusing to say these lies, I was asked to strip off my clothes and I refused. They took me down from the car and torn down my clothes leaving me naked in front of their ferocious eyes. All this was done while they were video-taping everything. They beat me in every part of my body. Under the psychological and physical torture and agreed to what was asked to say.
They gave only me my malhfa( Sahrawi Cloth) , and put the folding on my eyes again and more torture followed.

When they filming me , there was a man who asked me all these questions while hiding his face, and they called him by his alias name so that I could not identify him, I am sure he was a VIP government servant. They say that they were filming me to show the world that they maintain security. They threatened me to publish it on the net and expose my body to all the world to scandalize me.

We call upon international organizations to intervene to stop violations that occur daily in the occupied territories of Western Sahara, where the Moroccan authorities have also a former political prisoner Loumadi Abd Salam, Who was arrested just two days before me plus what they did to Hayat Rguibi and Hasanna Aliya just recently, and Naama lasfari. Morocco has violated human rights in many ways, where the Moroccan forces filmed sessions of Sahrawi citizens under torture and pressure. We do not bear all this and we are being watched in every place and our houses are besieged and controlled. We can not tolerate this situation anymore. The Minurso are there but doing nothing at all to help us. They do not do anything to stop the ongoing violations of human rights, and we urge the United Nations to intervene to stop the torture exerted on our people. We need international monitoring and protection. The International community is doing nothing so far to stop this drama. We ask all civil societies in the world and all defenders of human rights to help us and to stop the mass violations committed by the Moroccan occupation forces towards the people of Western Sahara.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Sahrawi Minor Abducted and tortured in the outskirts of Laayoune, Western Sahara


A Sahrawi Minor Abducted and tortured in the outskirts of Laayoune, Western Sahara

Last Night August 27th,2009 at 9.00 p.m, Ms. Hawassi Ngiya, a Human Rights activist and a student in high school in Laayoune, was abducted last night at around 9.00 pm by Police Officers: Khalid and Aziz Anouch when she walking down the street in Maatallah District,Laayoune, Western Sahara. They took her blind-folded to the outskirts of Laayoune city in the area of Sakia Al Hamra. They endured lots of torture both physically and psychologically. Many other Morrocans security agents joind them later on and started interrogating her about her views while stripping her of all her colthes. she was asked about her affiliations and her political views as well regarding the conflict. All this was done while some of them were video-taping the whole operation. She was threatened to be exposed naked on the internet if she would tell anyone about what happened and if she does not cease her activities. One of the high rakned officers belonging to DIAG Moroccan Secret Services) threatened to kill her next time they would catch her.
At 2.00 a.m, she was left behind naked in the outskirts of Laayoune in the darkness. She managed to reach a dwelling where a sahrawi family gave her clothes and helped her reach her relatives.
A Sahrawi Minor Abducted and tortured in the outskirts of Laayoune, Western Sahara


في أبشع انتهاك لحقوق الأنسان وخاصة حقوق القاصرين ،تم ليلة البارحة 27/08/2009 علي الساعة 09 مساءا اختطاف الطفلة الصحراوية القاصر :انكية الحواصي الناشطة في مجال حقوق الانسان والتلميذة في الاعدادية في مدينة العيون ،عندما كانت تتجول في شارع حي معط الله ، وقد اشرفت قوة امنية يقودها الجلاد المغربي المعروف عزيز أنوش وضابط الامن خالد رفقة مجموعة أمنية ،على اختطاف الطفلة انكية الحواصي وتعصيب عينها ونقلها إلي واد الساقية خارج المجال الحضري لمدينة العيون الصحراء الغربية ،بدأ بعدها مسلس من التعذيب الجسدي والنفسي علي حد سواء فتم نزع ملابسها حيث أصبحت عارية ،وبعد فترة من الوقت أنضم مجموعة من رجال الامن حيثوا بداو التحقيق معها عن علاقتها بالنشطاء الحقوقيين والوقفات التي تطالب بحق تقرير المصير لشعب الصحراء الغربية ،كما سألوه عن آرائها السياسية وعن علاقاتها مع بعض الافراد والجمعيات الحقوقية وكانت تتم عملية التسجيل بالفيديو لعملية التحقيق في الصحراء ويتم تصويرها وهي عارية وبعد خمس ساعات من التحقيق والتعذيب أكدوا لها بعدها أنه في المرة المقبلة ستتم تصفيتها جسديا وأن الفيديو الذي لم تم تصويره لها والذي تظهر فيه عارية سوف يتم نشره عبر الانترنت وأكد لها احد ضباط الدياج المغربية أنه في المرة المقبلة سوف يشرف على قتلها وعند الساعة الثانية ليلا تركوها عارية في الظلام دون رحمة أو شفقة لحالها لتنتقل بعدها سيرا علي الاقدام عارية من ملابسها إلي أحد منازل الصحراويين القريبة منها ليتم نقلها إلي العيون
يذكر أن أنكية الحواصي كانت من ضمن مجموعة الشباب الستة الذين تم منعهم من السفر إلي بريطانيا للمشاركة في برنامج دولي يتحدث عن حل النزاعات كذالك هي أحد الشابات المساهمات في انتفاضة الاستقلال التي انطلقت في 2005

Friday, August 21, 2009

Urgent Need for Archeologs to work in a Project in Western Sahara

Very Urgent Action:
Archeologs without Experience needed for a project in Western Sahara.
for more information, please visit the following Web site.
http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/~e118/WS/WSahara.htm

Western Sahara Project: Environmental and Social Change in Arid Northwest Africa
The Western Sahara Project is an interdisciplinary research project that aims to improve our understanding of past environmental, social and cultural change in northwest Africa. The main focus of the research is on human-environment interaction over the past 10,000 years (the Holocene period), with an emphasis on the transition from humid to arid conditions in the Middle to Late Holocene.The Project is led by the University of East Anglia, and involves specialists in a wide range of subjects from a number of institutions.

Fieldwork is conducted in the eastern and southern areas of the disputed, non self-governing territory of Western Sahara (formerly Spanish Sahara). These areas are under the control of the Polisario independence movement, the remainder of the territory being occupied by Morocco.

For more information on the Project, its findings, and its wider context, navigate this site using the links on the left. The Project's findings are described in Project publications and field reports. For reports and further details of the Project's work, see Field Seasons.

Anyone can VOLUNTEER to take part in the Project. No experience of archaeology or scientific fieldwork is required.

Monday, August 10, 2009

We seek no revenge – only peace: Mohamed Kheddad


We seek no revenge – only peace

11/08/2009

By: Mhamed Khadad








The people of Western Sahara stand prepared to engage with Morocco and to enter open discussions about our joint future.

A new round of talks between the kingdom of Morocco and the Polisario Front of Western Sahara are under way in Vienna, Austria. These talks, characterised as informal by the personal envoy of the UN secretary general, Christopher Ross, are the latest attempt to bring peace and security to Western Sahara and to the wider Maghreb region. We enter them with an unwavering and genuine commitment to finding a just, mutually acceptable and democratic solution. Will our Moroccan counterparts adopt the same approach?

In every circumstance, peace comes at a cost. Somehow, somewhere, there must be a compromise and someone, generally everyone, must be prepared to search for common ground and to yield to the higher ideals found there. For the people of Western Sahara, the price of peace is high. We have been occupied for over three decades, following an illegal annexation by the Moroccan kingdom. We have seen our natural resources become unethical trade boons to the Moroccan economy while our people languish in refugee camps, unable, or too afraid, to return home.

Yet, rather than seek to exercise a sense of revenge or frustration, we stand prepared to engage with Morocco and to enter open discussions about our joint future. This is long-established policy. In our statement to the UN security council in 2007, we stated we would guarantee "the rights and obligations of the Moroccan population in Western Sahara". We also put on the public record that our readiness "to participate with Morocco and the countries of the region in the maintenance of peace, stability and security for the whole region."

The people of Western Sahara remain committed to the self-determination process initiated by the UN nearly 50 years ago, and have backed ever since via various resolutions and statements. For instance, we recall the security council resolved in 2002 to express "its readiness to consider any approach which provides for self-determination". It is not clear how or where Morocco’s proposal for autonomy within the Moroccan state fits in with this basic agenda. A unilateral solution to a three-decade-long conflict, as is proposed by Morocco, is not only farcical, it is an option the community of democratic nations cannot countenance.

The people of Western Sahara have been clear that we are willing to work with the Moroccan monarchy and will act without recrimination in relation to Moroccans now living in Western Sahara. We are aware we do not choose our neighbours and so we are destined to share a border. This is a form of realpolitik that makes sense at all levels. We do not seek any victories over Morocco, we only seek parity. We aim to co-operate in economic and security matters, as any decent neighbour would be expected to do.

For Morocco, the benefits of good relations with a free and democratic Western Sahara are immense. The massive costs of its military occupation have been estimated at 3% of Morocco’s GDP. Analysts suggest the military costs in keeping some 150,000 troops in the occupied territories alone is over $153bn (£92.3bn) since 1975, or around $12m (£7.2m) for every day it has occupied Western Sahara. As a result of this extraordinary outlay, Morocco has the world’s fifth highest proportional spend on its military. Moreover, the long-touted Maghreb union, which has faltered for decades on the back of the Western Saharan dispute, would at last be free of this considerable obstacle to better relations.

Quite apart from the damaging moral position Morocco maintains in Western Sahara, ending this money drain must surely be a priority for Rabat and its often impoverished people, as must the prospect of awakening the sleeping giant of North African economic unity. The UN’s way is the only way forward. A referendum on self-determination, a fundamental mechanism for all UN-mandated colonies – as Western Sahara is – is the only viable means of engendering anything like a sustainable common ground. The future of the Sahrawi people must be in their own hands, not in any institution and it is certainly not the right of an invading power, maintaining an illegal and unjust regime.

As we enter these talks we favour the open-palm approach of US president Barack Obama. We are willing to pay the price of peace as an investment in our future. That is our stated agenda going into the Vienna talks. The people of Western Sahara deserve nothing less from us, for it is peace and freedom we crave most of all.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

US Senate and Western Sahara

''الشيوخ الأمريكي'' يضغط على المغرب لمصلحة البوليساريو!




كشف مصدر مطلع أن لجنة المخصصات المالية بمجلس الشيوخ أوصت بأن ''تقدم لها وزارة الخارجية في أجل لا يتجاوز 45 يوما بعد المصادقة على ميزانية العمليات الخارجية الأمريكية للسنة المالية ,''2010 تقريرا عن ''الخطوات التي قام بها المغرب في الإثنى عشر شهرا الماضية من أجل ''مواصلة تحقيق تقدم حقوق الإنسان في الصحراء''، وهل ''تسمح لكل الأشخاص بالمطالبة بحرية عن آرائهم بخصوص وضع ومستقبل الصحراء''، وذلك عبر حقهم في التعبير السلمي والجماعي، كما نصت التوصية على حق هؤلاء الأشخاص في توثيق انتهاكات حقوق الإنسان في المنطقة بدون تحرش''.


وجاءت هذه التوصية الصادرة عن لجنة يرأسها السيناتور الديموقراطي ''باتريك ليهي'' المعروف بتأييده لمواقف البوليساريو لتكشف بحسب المصدر نفسه عن مدى نفوذ اللوبي المؤيد للبولساريو، والذي تمكن للمرة الثالثة من تمرير توصية مضادة للمغرب، وتستجيب لتوفير حماية للهيئات الحقوقية المطالبة باستفتاء لتقرير المصير، والمشتغلة ضمن الخط الاستراتيجي لجبهة البوليساريو، خاصة وأن التوصية تجاهلت كليا ما تعرفه مخيمات تندوف من انتهاكات لحقوق الإنسان، وذكر المصدر نفسه أن ميزانية العمليات الخارجية لسنة 2009 عرفت صدور توصية من نفس النوع، أما في ميزانية 2008 فقد تمكن هذا اللوبي من إجازة فقرة في ميزانية العمليات الخارجية تنص على رهن مليون دولار ميزانية المساعدات العسكرية، والتي لا تتجاوز 3^6 مليون دولار حتى يتم تقديم نفس التقرير المشار إليه في توصية هذه السنة.


والمثير بحسب مصادر مطلع أن المغرب الذي تمكن من تعبئة نسبة محترمة من أعضاء الكونغريس للدفاع عن أطروحة المغرب في رسالة وجهت في أبريل الماضي إلى الرئيس الأمريكي أوباما ووقع عليها 299 عضوا منه، لم يتمكن من مواجهة هذا التحرك المناهض للمغرب بمجلس الشيوخ، والذي كشف عن حالة التقدم المسجلة في استغلال ورقة حقوق الإنسان ضده، وذلك بالرغم من التحسن المسجل، أو على الأقل الدفع في توصيات متوازنة.


وللعلم فإن آخر تقرير لوزارة العدل الأمريكية عن نفقات شركات اللوبي المؤجرة من قبل دول العالم ومنها المغرب، فإن النفقات المخصصة لذلك ارتفعت بشكل كبير دون أن يظهر أثرها الواضح في مواقف الإدارة الأمريكية أو الكونغريس، باستثناء توجيه رسائل تفتقد للقيمة التشريعية، لاسيما وأن تحرك اللوبي المؤيد للبوليساريو في مجلس الشيوخ ليس جديدا، ونجاحه في تمرير هذه التوصية ليس هو الأول من نوعه، مما يطرح تساؤلات عن القدرة الاستباقية لمواجهة مثل هذه الضغوط، إلا أن ثلاث مؤسسات من شركات اللوبي أخذت ما يفوق 3 ملايين دولار لستة أشهر الأولى من سنة 2008 بحسب تقرير وزارة العدل.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Obama and Western Sahara and his Recent Letter to Morocco

WorldTribune.com

breaking..
Thursday, July 9, 2009

Obama reverses Bush-backed Morocco plan in favor of Polisario state
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has backed a Polisario state, ending U.S.
support for a Moroccan plan to establish autonomy for Western Sahara. Morocco
has warned the West that such a state could become a haven for Al Qaida and
other terror organizations.
Diplomatic sources said the Obama administration has disassociated itself from a
Moroccan plan for autonomy for the disputed Western Sahara. They said the White
House no longer sees itself as committed to the endorsement by then-President
George Bush of Western Sahara autonomy.
"The United States no longer supports or endorses the Moroccan autonomy plan," a
diplomatic source said. "Instead, the administration has returned to the
pre-Bush position that there could be an independent Polisario state in Western
Sahara."

"The Moroccans have become highly concerned by the U.S. reversal," the source
said. "It calls into question whether Obama sees himself as committed to
anything agreed to by his predecessors, which is a key factor in diplomacy."
In 2007, Rabat launched its plan to end the 35-year-old dispute with the
Algerian-backed Polisario by offering autonomy to Western Sahara, 80 percent of
which has been under Moroccan control.
At the time, Morocco persuaded such allies as France and the United States that
a Polisario-dominated state would become a haven for Islamic insurgency groups,
including Al Qaida.
But the sources said the administration dropped U.S. support for Western Sahara
autonomy in June 2009. They said the White House ordered the State Department to
interpret the United Nations mediation effort between Morocco and Polisario as
including the option of statehood. In 2008, a Security Council report determined
that Polisario's demand for independence for Western Sahara was unfeasible.
Obama reversed U.S. policy on Western Sahara in a letter to Morocco's King
Mohammed in June, the sources said. The letter, which focused on a U.S. request
for Morocco's help to advance the Arab-Israeli peace process, ended with a
reference to UN-sponsored talks on Western Sahara.
"I share your commitment to the UN-led negotiations as the appropriate forum to
achieve a mutually agreed solution," Obama wrote. "My government will work with
yours and others in the region to achieve an outcome that meets the people's
need for transparent governance, confidence in the rule of law, and equal
administration of justice."
Unlike Bush, Obama did not reiterate support for Morocco's autonomy plan for
Western Sahara. Several days after the Obama letter, the sources said, U.S.
envoy Christopher Ross arrived in Rabat and pressed for unilateral Moroccan
concessions to Polisario, which has threatened to renew war with the North
African kingdom.
The sources said Ross urged Morocco to accept Polisario's demand to ease
security measures in Western Sahara as a condition for resuming negotiations.
They said the U.S. appeal violated a resolution by the UN Security Council in
April 2009 that called for direct and unconditional negotiations.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Slavery Controversy


Robbed of truth?

Bob Ellis

In Stolen a camel is chosen, dragged bellowing toward a truck, seen travelling many miles with a quirky expression on its likeable, nose-wriggling face, then later by moonlight, shrieking and hooting, its throat cut, gushes its blood towards Mecca in accordance with the provisions of the Law. After this we see dancing and ululating veiled black women at a reunion party in which the camel, drained of its blood, is roasted and eaten in the first such feast in the village in 30 years.

This sequence was made possible by Violeta Ayala, the co-director, giving the hungry villagers the price of the camel, something they otherwise could never have afforded, and suggesting they enact for the cameras this ugly, disturbing, highly cinematic ritual.

Why do we see this? The film is supposedly about the persistence of slavery in the refugee camps of the Saharawi people in sand-swept Algeria. Why show this? We do not usually see headless, flapping, blood-spurting turkeys before Thanksgiving dinners in Hollywood films. Why do this? Why show it? Why cause it to happen, as the director in her narration admits she did?

I got into a loud fight with her and her co-director, saw in video interviews what the film's subjects thought of it, interviewed one of them myself (with, admittedly the help of a Polizari lawyer, Kamal Fadel, who is also the attache for East Timor), and became pretty depressed that this film exists, and has been premiered, and I'll tell you why.

It's because we see and are told almost nothing of this culture that slaughters a camel once in 30 years and practises, allegedly, slavery. We do not know how they feed themselves or school themselves, what creed they practise, what church or mosque they attend, how their economy works, who they marry, how many spouses they have, what age they marry, if girls can choose their spouse, how often they pray, how their economy works, what sort of health care they get (good, I later learned, and totally free), if they can vote in elections, if they are semi-fascist or semi-communist or communitarian, and so on.

We are not even told that the central character, Fetim, has a husband, Baba, who works in Spain, has an engineering degree from Cuba and sends her money from Spain. She is presented as a single mother and (it is rumoured) a slave.

Baba and Fetim attended the film's world premiere and showed their passports to the audience and said the whole family holiday frequently together in Spain unharassed by the Polizario, and how can this be?

Slaves with passports? What is this? Slaves flying Qantas and staying unpoliced with Meredith Burgmann, the former President of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, in Glebe?

"There's no reason slaves can't fly overseas", said Dan Fallshaw, the co-auteur. "Slavery is a state of mind."

"Slavery can be mental", Violeta Ayala said. "I never said Fetim is a slave", Dan said. "Other people in the film do."

A slave with a husband travelling Qantas and lodged with an eminent Labor politician? "I never said she was a slave", Dan said. "The film shows us the facts. The audience can make up its mind."

But no-one is shown shackled in the film. No-one is shown being spoken to harshly. No-one is shown being humiliated in any way. The only person (and he is treated as a person) who is humiliated in the film is the camel, whom the directors paid the villagers to humiliate and murder in front of the camera.

Murder is my word; I withdraw it; murder is unfair.

Why did they do this? Was it to show they were bad people, capable of not only ritually killing a camel but even, possibly, slavery?

In the Nazi film The Eternal Jew laughing rabbis cut a cow's throat and the blood gushes copiously and they laugh some more - gaily, wickedly, unpleasantly. Is this the same propaganda trick? I doubt it.

The young Bondi couple that made this film seem too naïve, too unprepared for the great world for that.

For if indeed the people they show on screen are slaves, they have endangered their lives - by showing their faces and alleging they collude in a monstrous illegality that could see their owners gaoled or incite them persecutors into honour-killing them for letting it out.

If they are not slaves they will have brought shame on their community with this blood-libel, this heinous falsehood and their community will shun them hereafter. Or am I wrong?

But the on-screen Saharawi are saying in interview after interview that they did not say this, they did not say they were slaves, and their words were manipulated or falsified. And their words in the film are being deciphered by a man from Al-Jazeera and a man from the UN to see if they match the subtitles.

If the spoken and printed word do not conform (one apparently says not 'Fetim is a slave' but 'Violeta wants us to say Fetim is a slave'), a lot of slander will have occurred, and the publishers of it, whoever they are, will be liable, I imagine, for a good deal of negotiated retribution. And so will the forgers of the subtitles, whoever they are.

Will Dan and Violeta go to jail? Probably not. Should they? I'm not sure.

If they had made a film saying cannibalism persisted in certain Maori encampments in New Zealand, and this published rumour was false, they would have committed (I think) no less grave a crime. And I'm not sure any apology would have allayed it.

There may be other explanations for what has thus far occurred at this Sydney Film Festival (the organisers refused to screen Fetim's friends' and allies' 15-minute rebuttal though they had 30 hours before the festival finished to check it out and do so), a film about slavery in which no slavery is seen.

But none of them will recover, I fear, the $230,000 or so (which could I imagine buy back a whole lot of slaves) of government money spent thus far on this ill-informed, ill-evidenced and arguably addled rumination.

Or am I wrong