Thursday, November 08, 2012

Once Upon a Time, Gdaim Izik , By khalil Asmar

memory of Gdeim Izik camp: Khalil Asmar.
Once Upon a Time: Gdeim Izik By: Khalil Asmar In memory of Gdeim Izik camp of occupied Western Sahara. The sparkle of the Arab Spring
It was still dark in the very early morning when we heard sparkles of flashy lights and astrangling gas wafting around in fumes while troops of various types on the stand bysurrounding us from every side. I freaked out at the first rifle shot, and the sound coming down the helicopter calling us on high speakers to leave the camp and join the waiting buses. The helicopter stood roving around us with that recursive sound as if it were coming out of a recorded tape to make us remember and understand its urgent message "you must leave the camp, leave the camp now, and we're going to solve all your problems". The police vans lights and their horn sounds added more fright to the apocalyptic view. I thought it was a nightmare when suddenly I woke up to find myself in front of the crazy police and military truncheons. “Oooh! That hurts!!!!" I got it painful right around my arm and down my ribbs. "That was not a dream". Hectic, I ripped off the tent back garment which was made of some old traditional clothes worn by our women and run away. It was really an unusual morning to wake up with sticks and truncheons struck against your body unmercifully. "Get the mother f.. back!! He’s running away" a policeman shouted from the tent front door. As I was fleeing away to rescue myself, women, children, men run on every direction screaming and shouting, running or crawling, looking for themselves or looking for their beloved ones. The sight got gloomier, and the breath became heavy; the enemy was everywhere, and we definitely turned into a helpless prey I was about to faint away when all of a sudden I stepped over a woman carrying her baby. I leaned my foot to avoid hurting her, she looked at me and said crying "help me get up, please, my baby is in the tent" I took her up but her baby was under her arm wrapped up in a small blanket: the gas had troubled her brain and she thought that her baby was still in the tent. Firmly, I grabbed her up and took the baby in one arm while holding her with the other arm. As I was moving outside the camp, the vision seemed to be a little cleared up and the Saharawi Land Rovers and the four by four cars suddenly appeared coming from every direction to rescue the miserable campers. I waved vehemently to one just coming by us, he stopped and came to help mounting up the woman and her baby. He insisted on me to get into the car, but I told him that I, first, had to help getting women, children and old men out of this hell. As I was heading back to the camp, a flock of Saharawi people crossed me running towards the car. The driver packed them up, and vanished away amid the heavy dust. Back to the camp, things then went further on to the worst. The random beating inflicted on women and children became more intense. We, therefore, had to defend ourselves and our people; some Saharawis grabbed sticks, others grabbed sauce pans or anything handy scattered around, while others like I started stoning them so we could have the time to rescue vulnerable people. On the other side, the enemy started demolishing the tents, and the military trucks moving towards us in slow motion. We adjusted our head shawls to cover our noses from the tear gas knowing that if we succeeded into pushing them back the military trucks would come to crush us down into the ground. From the west north of the camp, other anti-protest trucks suddenly started shooting hot water to the angry Saharawi crowds who saw their mothers, sisters, children screaming hysterically. We felt we had to rescue them in the first place, but the confrontation was far unequal. As any occupier, the Moroccans were, as they had always been, a bunch of cowards who can only attack unarmed people; the 17 years’ war they had with the Saharawi armed guerrillas had all been a failure. They never won a single battle, and part of that failure was because the Moroccan soldier had no issue to fight for. They knew they had been invading a neighboring country, and they always felt they were fighting for an unjust cause. This time, though, the fight, they thought would be as easy as a pie, was very fierce to the extent that they had to pull backward and hid behind their transparent covers. It’s strange that sometimes nature can feel your pain and decides to help you. the wind suddenly took all the smoke back to the shooters direction, it was so strangling to them that they couldn’t stand their hot masks. They started losing control and at that very crucial moment, we seized the opportunity to get them further backward. Dagana, a friend who was beside me, said angrily that we had to head towards them and beat up their asses. I told him not to, because what we were up to at that very moment was to rescue the women, children and old people. He looked at me and said.”Ok, then go and take them away while we fight the bastards back”. All the Saharawis talked and shouted at the same time, run to every direction and fight back to defend themselves. Already some Saharawi women and children got encircled by the oppressive forces and one could see them lying flat under the police and military boots; they were beaten unmercifully and that was the time when we had to intervene as quickly as possible even if that could have cost us our lives. It was in fact, the only way to save the women and children from that lethal torture, and this time we had to punish these ruthless forces. We beat some policemen hard till they fainted out. At their sight, other coward policemen got scared and backed away while others fled away running and looking back amazed every time a stone got struck up their protective apparatus. We evacuated the women and children who were unable to move out of the ground, some women were lying down strangled by the toxic fumes. With great bravery, they were determined not only to survive but also to fight back the enemy, but we urged them to go away and be transported by the saharawi 4/4 cars. I carried some children and women on my shoulders but I could say that some of them were dying, or they might die on their road back home. Now that the police had to run back, it was time for the military JMC trucks to advance driving towards us; that’s when we fled away as they were pointing their old rifles towards us and I could hear some live bullets now being fired upwards or downwards to scare us away. It was not a fair game, and that was evidently the best time for any occupier to flex his muscles. ELaayoun, the city, was about 15 kilometers away from Gdeim Izik camp, and there up to the horizon already the black smoke was coming out from different places. The city was burning, and I and some friends kept running back to the city. I tried to contact some friends on the cell phone, but all the communication lines were shut down. A lot of occupier administrations were burned; they were the incarnation of the occupier authority and they were a legal target to the Saharawi militants. I ran for about 7 kilometers before a 4/4 car stopped suddenly and the driver behind the dust called me to jump up and get a ride back to the city. There were a lot of injured Sahrawis inside the car, and some were lying down motionless. The driver informed me that a lot of people were left lying on the ground, and probably could have died, but the police vans had to collect them up to hide their crime. Passing by the road, we had to swerve sideways as some dead bodies were left on the road or the road sides, and as we saw some military trucks coming towards us, we had to take the desert road of which the Saharawis are the masters. Looking back through the window and mounting dust, the trucks suddenly had to stop here and there to pick up the bodies. The camp or back to town, everything was under fire and fumes; it was the genocide. At the entrance of the city, big rocks, burning wheels and Saharawis chanting independence slogans and lifting up the Saharawi flag. The camp hadn’t been put up for socio-economic reasons; rather it had been an outcry from the people of Western Sahara against the Moroccan occupation, but the Saharawis had had to say otherwise so as to make the world pay attention to their premeditated forgotten issue; The camp had been set up to remind the world that the Saharawis are under a horrible occupation, and that they want freedom and independence. Our driver headed to the hospital which was down the city, but we had to change our way as the road was blocked, and every time we could hear a bomb exploded somewhere and the smoke came up from every corner. It was really the apocalypse now. As we approached the hospital, another Moroccan type of force was waiting for the injured Saharawis to beat them up, and take them to prison even before getting any treatment, but what was the benefit of the hospital when the Moroccan doctors refused to give any assistance to the injured people. Medicine is a human job and a doctor is supposed to cure an enemy before a friend. Some other Moroccan doctors called the police to inform them of the injured Saharawis rather than supply any assistance. In front of such an unjust situation, we had to drive back to anywhere we could shelter the injured people. The driver took them to a Saharawi house and we hid them in. As I went out, the 4/4 car had already gone. The confrontation with the police forces continued for about the whole day. The phosphate administration was put under fire, and a truck carrying fish was set on fire. It was a message to not only the Moroccans to stop plundering the Saharawi resources, but also to say to the outside world and to all those who conspire with the Moroccans and conspire in the plundering and theft crime to stop their dirty game. And over the streets and allies, the Saharawis kept rioting chanting independence slogans, and the police forces firing rubber and live bullets and driving towards the crowd to crush who ever dared standing up in the streets. The news of injured soldiers and policemen had driven them crazy and decided to revenge on peaceful demonstrators, but because they were afraid to get out of their vans, they started inciting the Moroccan settlers, apparently teenagers and ex-criminals, to fight back allowing them to carry white weapons, knives, sticks and swords. It was, though, a funny thing to see as we started laughing at that anarchic view; the soldiers inside the vans and Toyota land cruisers and in the front row, the Moroccan settlers coming towards us incited and pushed to beat us. At the police station, when they brought in an armed Moroccan by mistake, he was to be released immediately and told to go back and continue beating up the Saharawi rioters while the Saharawis were flanged in the police vans, beaten harshly, thrown in prison cells and shoved to the ground amid more beatings and torture . Straight in the same night, the oppressive occupying forces started to raid the Saharawi houses; all the Saharawi houses in all districts have been brutally targeted with the collaboration of the Moroccan settlers, and turned into a horrible mess. Yet, the sound of people screaming, the hovering helicopter and the horrible views that I had gone through got stuck in my brain for days and months, and I witnessed how invisibility is a fertile ground of atrocities. These were moments I would never forget. The screaming of a whole nation after 35 years of occupation and marginalization was brutally silenced so as not to reach the outside world. But who ever thought that that camp scream coming out of an arid desert would be a turning point not only for the Saharawis and their fight for justice, but also an impediment that spread all over the planet. The protest tent has become a symbol of the modern global revolution and there it crossed all borders.

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