1 September 2002

Western Sahara: Sahara Weekly News Update

SADR

25.08.02

Mauritania - The Mauritanian President, Maaouiya Ould Sidahmed Taya received Mhamed Khadad, Saharawi coordinator with MINURSO, who gave him a message from the President of SADR, on the subject of "bilateral relations between Mauritania and SADR" said to be "fraternal and good". Mr Khaddad declared that Mauritania has "always supported the efforts of the UN for bringing peace to the region" and that SADR will continue to lend its support to the efforts of Mr James Baker in the search for a solution to the conflict based on respect for the inalienable rights of the Saharawi people and in accordance with international law. (SPS, AMI)

28.08.02

Earth Summit - The President of the Saharawi Republic sent a letter to participants at the world summit on sustainable development, taking place from 26 August to 4 September. He denounced the destruction of natural resources and the systematic plunder of underground and fishing riches of Western Sahara by Morocco. Mohamed Abdelaziz pointed out that certain species of fish are on their way to extinction through failure to respect biological recovery time and through the use of drift nets. He indicated that several species of animal, in particular gazelles, bustards, fennecs, and reptiles have practically disappeared. "The few acacia trees here and there in the Saharan oases have been cut down to serve as posts for the barbed wire fences protecting the defensive wall" he added, deploring that "wells have been destroyed or poisoned by the Moroccan forces of occupation which over a quarter of a century have pursued a systematic scorched earth policy." These practices continue despite the legal opinion recently put out by the UN Legal Department, which prohibits the exploitation of the resources of the country without the consent of its population." (SPS)

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES

24.08.02 - Four of the five or six unemployed people arrested on 22 August (see week 34 <http://www.arso.org/01-e02-34.htm>) were transferred to the civil prison of El Ayoun and presented before the public prosecutor. The sentence, due on 2 September, was delayed a week. The four men, Negro Mohamed, Lehman Abdalla, El Belaoui Hamadi and Semesdi Lebeihi are accused of being the instigators of protest movements of young unemployed people in the occupied territories. The prosecutor refused bail. In the course of being interrogated they are believed to have been tortured. (SPS)

26.08.02- Arrest

While he was presenting himself in a police station in Rabat for electoral registration forms for the forthcoming elections on 27 September next on the list of the United Socialist Left (Gauche Socialiste Unifiée - GSU) in the constituency of Assa-Zag, Ali Salem Tamek was arrested and taken to Casablanca, where he was interrogated by the national brigade of judicial police, specialised in interrogations of major criminals.

The next day he was transferred to Agadir, where the interrogation continued. The magistrate's court of Agadir set the sentence for 29 August. His lawyer requested an adjournment and release on bail. The court refused bail and set the hearing for Monday 2 September. Tamek Ali Salem, who suffers from asthma, is at present in the civil prison of Inzegane, known for its poor prison conditions. He is accused of belonging to a spy network working for the Polisario Front, which he has denied while at the same time defending his political convictions in favour of self-determination for the Saharawi people.

Tamek is a member of the National Council of the Forum for Truth and Justice ( Forum Vérité et Justice) and of the executive of the Sahara section (FVJ-SAH). A member of the administrative committee of the CDT (Democratic Labour Confederation), he is general secretary of the CDT of Assa. Ali Salem Mohamed Salem El Mami (known as Tamek) was born on 24.12.73 in Assa, he is married and has a small daughter born in 2000, who he wanted to call Attawra (revolution).

The Moroccan authorities refused the registration on the civil registry on the pretext that this first name is not on the famous list of Moroccan forenames edited by the Moroccan Ministry of the Interior. Following the non registration, the family were refused the family allowance given under Moroccan law.

A council worker in the administration of Touesgui (Assa), Tamek had been arrested in 1993 and sentenced with four young Saharawis, by a Moroccan court in Tata, to five years of closed prison, for having tried to join the Polisario Front. The punishment was reduced to two years and Tamek was pardoned in August 1994. He was arrested again in Dakhla in December 1997 and released in El Ayoun 10 days later. In April of that year

Tamek was ordered to leave Assa-Zak and go to Meknes, which he refused to do. His salary was frozen. The Moroccan authorities still deny him a passport. He sent an open letter in 2001 to the Moroccan minister of the Interior, published in a Moroccan Arab language weekly. The Moroccan Arab language independent press on several occasions published his articles on the human rights situation in Western Sahara and interviews.

Tamek and five other Saharawis figure in the search warrants of December 1999 part of the affair known as "Network Antilope" which led to the arrest of Khaya Cheikh, Laghzal Brahim, Massoud Laarbi and Bahaha Sidi Salek in December 1999 and September 2000. Sentenced to four years' imprisonment, they were released in November 2001, following actions carried out jointly by activists of the Forum for Truth and Justice, the Daddach committee, BIRDHSO and Amnesty International. (week 23 / 2000 <http://www.arso.org/01-e00-23.htm#ANCREag> and week 45/2001 <http://www.arso.org/01-e01-45.htm#ANCREdad>)

Reactions - The executive of FVJ published on 27 August a statement in which it condemned this arrest and demanded his release. The FVJ-SAH also published a statement along the same lines. AFAPREDESA launched an urgent appeal asking human rights organisations to appeal to the Moroccan authorities for the release without delay, of Tamek and all the Saharawi political detainees. (AFAPREDESA statement engl.) <http://www.wsahara.net/news.html>

28.08.02 - Another arrest

The police in Goulimine (200 km south of Agadir) arrested in the street Abdessalam Eddymaoui, a member of the Saharawi section for the Forum for Truth and Justice. He is considered by the Moroccan security services as one of the instigators of the demonstrations in Smara in November 2001. The authorities had forbidden him from returning home to Smara since last November.

Eddymaoui Abdeslam (Abdeslam Embarek Mohamed) was born in 1954, he is the father of three children. He belongs to the group of 26 Saharawis from Agadir, sentenced for membership of Polisario Front cells and imprisoned from 1977 to 1982. An official of the Agadir court, the Moroccan authorities still refuse to reinstate him in his job. (corr., SPS)

REFERENDUM

30.08.02-03.09.02 - Sweden

A seminar on the future of Western Sahara, bringing together Saharawi, Moroccan and Swedish experts, took place from 30 August to 3 September. The meeting, organised jointly by the Olof Palme Institute of International Studies and the University of Lund near Stockholm, consists in an exchange of points of view, in closed door sessions, on the future of Western Sahara after the completion of the referendum.

Experts in international relations and Swedish professors of international law will look at experiences of decolonisation similar to the case of Western Sahara. The Saharawis, who will be represented by three experts, Polisario Front officials, decided to take part in this seminar, convinced that "the language of dialogue is the best way to lead to a solution for the decolonisation of the territory." The Moroccan side is represented by university professors, former diplomats and officials of the "Bouabib Foundation ", close to the Moroccan socialist party (USFP). (SPS)

MOROCCO

26.08.02 - The Moroccan government decided on the creation of the Promotion Agency for the economic and social development of the southern provinces of the Kingdom [Western Sahara]. The agency, placed under the Prime Minister's supervision and managed by an administrative Council made up of representatives of the State, will have as its mission to study and submit to the competent authorities integrated economic and social programmes leading to the economic and social promotion of the region, to find funding for them and to ensure follow-through.

HUMAN RIGHTS

30.08.02 - International Day of the "Disappeared"

- Amnesty International - Press Release: Morocco/Western Sahara: Day of the "Disappeared" - families still await truth and justice, AI-index: MDE 29/003/2002, 30/08/2002 <http://web.amnesty.org/ai.nsf/recent/MDE290032002?OpenDocument> -

- Discussion Forum on enforced or involuntary disappearances at Linking solidarity <http://www.linkingsolidarity.org/forum> with a geographic header on Morocco-Western Sahara <http://www.linkingsolidarity.org/forum/forumdisplay.php?s=dcd84a9be3bf4cefb200dd6b90ca192a&forumid=4>.

The Project Linking Solidarity is an independent initiative implemented by the Humanistic Committee on Human Rights (HOM). This project aims at strengthening links of co-operation and solidarity between all persons and organisations acting against enforced and involuntary disappearances and providing support or assistance to relatives of disappeared persons. This Forum was created thanks to assistance from the Dutch and Belgian governments.

HUMANITARIAN AID

28.08.02 - Balearic Islands

The Saharawi Minister of Health, Omar Mansour signed an agreement with the government of the Balearics and the Association of Friends of the Saharawi People on health aid for Saharawi children and adults staying there and on cooperation health projects in the refugee camps.

29.08.02 - Urgent appeal

The UN agencies WFP and UNHCR renewed their urgent appeal for immediate and substantial food aid for the Saharawi refugees. (see week 33 <http://www.arso.org/01-e02-33.htm#Ancragepam>)(Western Sahara refugees face looming food shortages, UN agencies report, 29.08.02 <http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=E75&Cr==Western&Cr1==Sahara>)

SOLIDARITY

Algeria - Committees of solidarity with the Saharawi people were created in the wilayas of Guelma and Annaba (SPS).

Italy - 31.08.02, ore 20.00, ASSOCIAZIONE VALDARNESE DI SOLIDARIETA' CON IL POPOLO SAHARAWI, Cena di solidarieta per il popolo saharawi e concerto di musica rock con il gruppo "Dottore Calligari". Per informazioni e prenotazione (obbligatoria) contattare: Azienda Agricola Casa del Monte 055-9707362; Sauro Testi - 335/8196685; Alessandra Landucci 055/9912769 - 339-1919649.

Sweden - 02.09.-30.10.02, Göteborg, Folkets Hus: A Photo Exhibition "Western Sahara is not for sale" by the British photographer Kim Naylor (living in Sweden) will be opened in Folkets Hus, Gothenburg on 2 September. The exhibition will last until 30 October. For more information contact <mailto:saharabulletinen@delta.telenordia.se>

INTERNET

- LA CONDESCENDENCIA CON MARRUECOS ESTA DESESTABILIZANDO EL NORTE DE AFRICA, Kamal Fadel <http://www.arso.org/KamalFadel4.htm>(traducción de "Appeasing Morocco is destablising north-west Africa", Online Opinion, 15.08.02 <http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/2002/Aug02/Fadel.htm>)

- DECLARACIÓN DE PRINCIPIOS ENTRE ESPAÑA, MARRUECOS Y MAURITANIA SOBRE EL SAHARA OCCIDENTAL. Inoficialmente «Acuerdo tripartito de Madrid» o «Acuerdo de Madrid». Fuente: "United Nations Treaty Series" <http://www.arso.org/ac3madrid.htm>

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