Monday, October 25, 2010

Escalation of violence against Saharawi civilians as Moroccan soldiers open fire killing a young boy near El Aaiun protest camp

Escalation of violence against Saharawi civilians as Moroccan soldiers open fire killing a young boy near El Aaiun protest camp

El Aaiun (Occupied Western Sahara), October 25th 2010, Sandblast Team

A 14-year-old Saharawi boy was killed and seven others were injured yesterday (Sunday) evening near the Saharawi civilian protest camp outside El Aaiun. The Moroccan army opened fire on two vehicles the victims were travelling in as they attempted to deliver essential food, water and medicines to friends and relatives among the thousands of Saharawi camped out for the last two weeks some 12km east of the occupied capital of Western Sahara (El Aaiun).

The boy, Nayem El-Garhi, died instantly in the Nissan pick-up truck in which he was travelling, when it came under a hail of bullets at a control post, outside the camp. Saharawi sources report that seven others were wounded in the two vehicles, including the brother of the victim, Zupir El-Garhi. A Moroccan source puts the number of wounded at three people. All were taken to the military hospital in El Aaiun for treatment.

The victims had been pursued by the Moroccan army from the moment they left the city until their car was brought to a halt by the bullets some 2km from the Gdeim Izik camp, said the Saharawi source.

"Repeated calls by the Polisario Front and the Saharawi Government warning of imminent aggressive intervention by Moroccan forces against the protesters, have been confirmed by this cruel murder and attack on innocent young people who were trying to bring food to their families," a statement issued to the Sahara Press Service said.

The statement, which named two of the seven injured as Lagdaf El-Alwi and Mohamed Daudi, asserted that "the credibility of the UN is now being tested" and called on the international community to respond with a "rapid intervention to prevent a further tragedy.”

A delegation of peers and MPs will today address the issue in the UK with Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt MP, and have released the following reactions to last night’s developments:

“This death is a tragedy, but there are fears this is just the beginning. The UK government can help by urgently raising the issue with the Moroccan authorities to ensure the safety of those who peacefully protest the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara.” [Jonathon Evans MP]

“This is a tragedy and a disgrace and at a meeting I have later today with the Foreign Office Minister I’ll be asking that the UK government make the strongest possible reps to the Moroccans not only to allow safe passage but also, to end the political stalemate by allowing the people of the Western Sahara the free choice to decide the future of their own land.” [Jeremy Corbyn MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Western Sahara]

“I will be raising this issue with the Minister. We cannot continue to ignore the brutality of the Moroccan authorities against those who peacefully demonstrate for their right to independence. The first step is for the Security Council to implement human rights monitoring in Western Sahara.” [Mark Williams MP]

No comments: