The European Commissioner for external relations and neighbourhood policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, affirmed in an interview to the French daily "La Croix", published on 10 April, that the agreement on granting to Morocco "advanced status" could be finalised under the French presidency of the EU, which will begin in July 2008.
"Advanced status" defines relations between the EU and frontier countries, within the context of the new European policy of neighbourhood, installing a closer cooperation between the EU and the countries of the southern Mediterranean and the former Soviet Union. The Polisario Front considers that such a status should require the respect of human rights and international law, from which Morocco is far from attaining.[SPS]
On a visit to Morocco on 17 and 18 April, the French Prime Minister declared that France is determined to help Morocco obtain "advanced status".[Politique européenne de voisinage, Maroc] [Plan d'action UE/Maroc, 09.12.04] [Rapport de suivi Maroc, 03.04.08]
The president of the Saharawi Parliament, Mahfoud Ali Beïba, was received by the president of the National Popular Assembly (lower house), Abdelaziz Ziari, as well as by the president of the Algerian Council of the Nation (upper house) Abdelkader.Bensalah. [SPS]
The special envoy of the Saharawi President, El-Khalil Sidi Mohamed, Saharawi Minister responsible for the occupied territories and Saharawi communities abroad, was received in an audience with the President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, (RIM), Sidi Mohamed ould Cheikh Abdallahi. [AMI]
The Government Council has prepared draft laws regulating the relations between the parliament and the government. He also reviewed drafts relating to building and development in the liberated territories. [SPS]
OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO
Demonstrations, arrests, repression
A sit-in for self-determination, organised on 27 March 2008 by a group of young Saharawis in the Almatar quarter in El-Ayoun, was violently dispersed. Bullahi Mohamed Bachri, a student born in 1990, was tortured for four hours before being released. He gives a detailed description of the methods used. [ASVDH, 04.04.08]
Abdalahi Zoubeir, a Saharawi of 55 years, who has held various posts in the administration of El Ayoun, announced in Madrid that he sought political asylum in Spain because of the repression in the occupied territories. Zoubeir defected to Morocco in 1989 after having lived in the refugee camps near Tindouf. For several years the Moroccan authorities gradually released him from his duties, giving him no reason to have confidence.[ACN Press]
The police forces stopped a meeting of trades union members of the workers of the National Promotion (job-seekers) by mishandling and arresting several people. 15 people were wounded and 5 arrested. The Saharawi president, Mohamed Abdelaziz, on 10 April drew to the attention of Ban Ki-Moon, "his grave concerns". [SPS]
18.04.08, El-Ayoun, Tan Tan
The police arrested Omar Lafkir, a student of 22 years, who went to a police station in El Ayoun to collect some documents. He was taken to Tan Tan on the pretext that they were searching for him in that locality. According to his relatives, the arrest was in relation to the demonstrations of 26 February and the death of a Moroccan policeman. Omar is the brother of Lahsen Lafkir, in prison in Inzegane. [CODESA] [more]
19-20.04.08, El-Ayoun - disillusion
The inhabitants of Al-Wahda camp protested during the visit of a delegation presided over by the Moroccan minister of the interior, which had come to supervise the allocation of the first plots of land. They asked for a revision to increase the promised allocation and enough time to construct their new dwelling, whereas the authorities wanted to demolish the shanty town immediately. This population, brought from southern Morocco at the time of the promised referendum in 1991, has been sheltered for 17 years in insalubrious sheds. The demonstration on 19 was tolerated, that on 20 was brutally dispersed by the police.
In a letter to the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, the Saharawi president denounced the "savage intervention perpetrated by the Moroccan forces of repression against Saharawi citizens". [SPS] [Telquel, Maroc, no 321]
For a long time the Moroccan authorities have been trying to stop Saharawi students in Morocco from demonstrating in favour of self-determination and independence, such as in Agadir in 2007, bringing in a militia made up of Moroccan students and criminals. These confrontations have been described in the Moroccan media at the time as confrontations between Berber and Saharawi students.
The same procedures are happening again. Since 6 April armed militias have been attacking Saharawi students in the Qadi Ayyad University in Marrakech under the leadership of a member of the DST (General Direction of Surveillance of the territory) of Saharawi origin, Mohamed Mahdi Tayar, in charge of surveillance on Saharawi students. Several students have been attacked in university precincts or buildings, in their own lodgings or in the street and injured. A Saharawi student, Khalihina Abu Alhassan, arrested on 13 April, is still in prison. The students organised a sit-in from 22 to 24 April to call for his release. During the sit-in, students were again attacked and one of them seriously wounded. Another student, Baihada Loujaj, known for his pro-independence activism, was arrested on 25 April as he was getting out of a train coming from Setat, where he studies. He was coming to join the action of Saharawi students. [corr.]
The Moroccan press presents these events as being a war between two groups of Saharawi students in favour of independence, one close to the Polisario Front and the other following the opposition of the liberation movement.
13.04.08, Another arrest for Naama Asfari
Naama Asfari, Saharawi human rights defender and co-president of CORELSO (Committee for the respect of liberties and human rights in Western Sahara) was arrested in Marrakech by plain clothes policemen. Blindfolded and handcuffed he was undressed and beaten before being incarcerated in Boulemharez prison, accused of hitting and causing injury during a dispute with another driver, drunken behaviour and possession of a firearm. [see the numerous protests]
A first hearing in the court of Marrakech took place on 21 April in the presence of observers from the AIJD (International Association of democratic lawyers), from Droit et Solidarité (Law and Solidarity), OSSIN (Osservatorio Internazionale, ONLUS), AAA (American Association of Attorneys) and ACAT-France (Action of Christians for the Abolition of Torture), the verdict is postponed until 28.
A French group comprising Claude Mangin, the wife of Naama Asfari, Frédérique Lellouche, responsible for the Maghreb in ACAT, Mireille Brun and Pierre-Alain Roussen, who attended the trial were arrested and driven to Agadir to be expelled by plane to France on the accusation of "disturbing public order". New protests.
[communiqué ACAT-France, AIJD, Droit et Solidarité, OSSIN, AAJ du 25.04.08]
[amnesty international ] [more]
Quotation: the spokesman of the French Minister for Foreign Affairs: "they are charged with no penal offence and we hope they will be rapidly released. If there is to be expulsion, that is a sovereign decision of the Moroccan authorities".[minAE France]
28.04.08: Naama Asfari was sentenced to 2 months in prison and a fine of 3000 DH (265 euros). No proof, blood alcohol test, or arm were presented. His two lawyers will appeal. The French lawyers, France Weyl and Aline Chanu, four Spanish barristers and two observers from Moroccan human rights associations attended the hearing. [Report]
Trial in El-Ayoun
On 7April, Said Mohamed Lamine Lahnani, born in 1983, and Mohamed Elmokhtar Alouate, born in 1986, arrested in Smara on 1 March 2008, sentenced in the Magistrate's court on 10 March 2008 to six months in prison for attacking, wounding and insulting an officer in the course of his duty, were sentenced on appeal to three months in prison. [ASVDH]
On 15 April, Nafai Sah and Abdallah Elboussati, sentenced to one year in prison on 6 February 2008, arrested on 8 July 2007 and accused of having burnt a police car, were sentenced on appeal to ten months in prison. [ASVDH]
On 21 April, Elmokhtar Akhnibila and his son Mohamed appeared before the court of appeal, which sentenced them to three months in prison. They had previously been sentenced to ten months' prison on 31 March 2008. [ASVDH]
On 30 April 2008, Saharawi political detainees, Omar Khnibila, Bachir Khadda, Mohamed Bachiri, Abdessalam Loumadi and Hassan Dah were sentenced to ten months' prison in the Magistrate's Court for "attacking and insulting an officer of the state in the course of his duties". The accusation of having burnt two trucks was abandoned. Dah and Bachiri were arrested on 10 October 2007, Khnibila, training at the Institute of Applied Technologies in El Ayoun, on 17 October 2007, Khadda, also a trainee in the same institute, on 14 November and Loumadi on 15 October 2007. The latter had been sentenced on 20 March 2007 to 18 months' prison, reduced to 12 months on 15 May 2007. Loumadi was released on 24 August 2007 after serving his sentence.
Said Elbaillal, transferred to the civil prison of Berchid, south of Casablanca, four days before his release, in order to avoid any demonstration at his liberation, left prison on 28 April and was greeted like a hero in Rabat. [ASVDH]
The Committee of coordination of the campaign for the release of Brahim Sabbar and all the Saharawi political prisoners launched an appeal for demonstrations outside Moroccan embassies and representations abroad. The appeal was followed in Seville, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, Valencia, Algesiras and Turin (Italy). The parliament of the autonomous region of Galicia unanimously approved on 23 April a motion calling for the central government to intervene for the release of all the Saharawi political detainees.
The Saharawi President on 29 April and 1 May questioned the UN SG, Ban Ki-moon, concerning Ennaama Asfari and other Saharawi political prisoners asking for their release and the end to repression in Western Sahara, as well as a widening of MINURSO's prerogatives to monitor the respect of human rights. [SPS]
The company, San Leon (Morocco) obtained from ONHYM a 12 month extension for its exploration permit in the Zag basin starting from 24.12.07. The partners in this joint venture are San Leon Limited (50%), the operator; GB Oil and Gas Ventures Limited (registered in Jersey, 30%) and Island Oil & Gas plc (Ireland, 20%).
[Oil Voice, 02.04.08]
The first contract dated from December 2006. WSRW warned the company about the illegality of the contract.[Infos and Open letter to Island Oil & Gas plc by Western Sahara Resource Watch, 13.12.06]
In November 2007, Island Oil & Gas plc announced that its Moroccan branch, Island International Exploration Morocco, IIEM, had just signed with ONHYM, seven exploration contracts in the on-shore region of Tarfaya, valid for 8 years. IIEM joined up with the operators, Longreach Oil and Gas Ventures Limited (30%) and San Leon Limited (Morocco, 30%). [San Leon-Zag] [Annual report 2007]
These contracts were approved on 11 April 2008 by the Energy Minister, they took effect on 14 January 2008.[Press release Island Oil & Gas plc,11.04.08] [San Leon-Tarfaya]
The new partnership agreement on fishing (APP) between Morocco and the European Union, which took effect in March 2007, was at the centre of talks between the Minister for Agriculture and Maritime Fishing, Aziz Akhenouch and the European Commissioner in charge of Fishing and Maritime Affairs, Joe Borg. During this meeting the two officials ... reviewed the ways and means of promoting a closer cooperation between the EU and Morocco in the fishing sector.... Borg invited Morocco to participate in the EuroMed conference on an integrated maritime policy, planned for June 2008 in Slovenia .... [Le Matin, Rabat, 05.04.2008]
The Japan-Sahara friendship association published letters to the Japanese Ministers of Finance and Trade concerning the importation to Japan of products from occupied Western Sahara. [Letter 1] [letter 2]
Last minute: Open letter (also by the Japan-Sahara friendship association) to Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs against the exclusion of SADR, AU member state, from TICAD IV (Tokyo International Conference for African Development) on 28-30 May 2008, despite its main themes including "peace consolidation", "human security" and "African ownership". [Letter]
Following the intervention of representatives of WSRW, the Canary Island agency, La Caja Tours, a service of La Caja de Canarias, a financial institution of a social nature, stopped promoting trips to occupied Western Sahara. [Telde actualidad 26.04.08] [more ]
A demonstration, organised by the Federación Andaluza de Asociaciones Solidarias con el Sahara (Fandas), la Federación Provincial de Huelva de Asociaciones Solidarias con el Sahara and WSRW to denounce the importation of Saharawi phosphate by FMC Foret and Ership SA brought together over 300 people in Huelva . It is the first time that a demonstration has been organised against the illegal exploitation of the natural wealth of occupied Western Sahara.[ver videos] [comunicado]
A ship, Cake, IMO registration number: 9353216, belonging to Geden Lines (Turquie), flying a Maltese flag, took on phosphate at El Ayoun on 24 April. It is en route for Lyttleton, New Zealand. [WSRW]
Mohamed Sidati, Minister delegate for Europe, accompanied by Abba Malainin, Polisario Front representative in Denmark, took part in the congress of the Danish popular socialist Party (SF), formation of the opposition bringing together socialists and ecologists and bringing together 23 seats in the parliament. The Saharawi delegation was also received in the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. [corr.]
the 12th conference of parliamentary intergroups "Peace and Freedom for the Saharawi people" took place in Santiago de Compostella, with the participation of over 60 members of autonomous parliaments. In a "Declaration Santiago" the intergroups ask for the implementation of the referendum of self-determination and the end of repression in the occupied territories. [Declaración de Santiago]
14.04.08, Secretary General's report S/2008/251
The report recalls the events, activities of the Personal Envoy and the activities on the ground (military activities, anti-mine work, assistance to the refugees, confidence-building measures, human rights, administration of the Mission, acts of vandalism on rock paintings) since 19 October 2007. To be pointed out, even though MINURSO has no mandate on the area of human rights, the Secretary General mentions the reports of the human rights NGOs concerning the various attacks on human rights in the occupied territories. He writes that "the UN recognizes its duty to uphold human rights standards in all its operations". He launched an appeal to donors to contribute to the program of assistance for the refugees, in order to render tolerable their conditions of life, as well as for the confidence-building measures, the continuance of which "risks being compromised in the absence of new funding".
The Secretary General considers that it is necessary to "find the means of getting out of the current political impasse by showing realism and a spirit of compromise". "The consolidation of the status quo is not acceptable", he writes, Morocco and the Polisario Front must "engage in a more intense phase of negotiations and bearing more on the basic questions" "without any preconditions". He asks to renew the mandate of the mission for six months, namely until 31 October 2008.
M'hamed Khadad, Polisario coordinator with MINURSO, warned against any delay which would give Morocco more time to "establish the plan for the annexation of Western Sahara". Khadad considers that "it is indispensable to widen the prerogatives of MINURSO to include in its mission responsibility for the observance of human rights and to make a timetable for the organisation of a just and fair referendum. [Wall Street Journal, 17.04.08]
Ahmed Boukhari, POLISARIO Front representative at the UN, in a declaration published by AWSA on 18 April, declares that the PF has noted with satisfaction the latest report and the recommendations of the SG [AWSA, Australia].
The Saharawi ambassador in Algiers, Brahim Ghali, believes "it is a balanced report, an advance in comparison with previous reports.
Morocco "notes with interest" the report of the Secretary General on the Sahara and reiterates "its support for the UN Secretary General as well as for his Personal Envoy". The permanent representative of Morocco with the United Nations, El Mostafa Sahel, communicated on 17 April to the UN Secretary General "elements of information on the human rights situation in his country and in the Sahara region". [L'Observateur, Maroc]
The French Prime Minister, François Fillon, on a visit to Morocco to implement the undertakings made in October by Nicolas Sarkozy, reiterated in Rabat France's support for the Moroccan autonomy proposal.
The Saharawi Minister for Europe, Mohamed Sidati called Fillon's words "regrettable not to say, unfortunate, of a nature to aggravate the conflict and prolong the ordeal for the whole region".[communiqué officiel]
21.04.08, UN, Security Council
The Security Council met in closed session to discuss the Secretary General's report on Western Sahara. Peter van Walsum, Personal Envoy of the Secretary General, spoke to a document setting forward his personal position, which differs from that put forward by the Secretary General. He considers that in the absence of "pressure on Morocco to abandon its claim to sovereignty" an "independent Western Sahara is not a realistic proposition". He judges it necessary to make a compromise between the "political reality", favourable to Morocco and "international law" claimed by the Polisario Front.
Omar Mansour, Polisario Front representative in France, denounced van Walsum's declarations on 22 April. Mansour reaffirmed that "nobody can substitute themselves for the Saharawi people in the choice of its future destiny in complete freedom and democracy", questioning "in the name of what right the independence of Kosovo could be defended and then, performing acrobatics to justify the Morocco's illegal occupation of Western Sahara".
Van Walsum's words "don't commit anybody except himself", Ahmed Boukhari explains, the representative of the Polisario Front in the UN, according to whom the UN envoy has "himself put in doubt the basic neutrality which should guide any mediator". [Extraits de l'allocution de van Walsum, Jeune Afrique/Liberté, 22.04.08]
The president of the Saharawi Republic, Mohamed Abdelaziz indicated that the declarations of Peter Van Walsum, "in violation of international law", "disqualify him automatically as a mediator and encourage the return to hostilities", in a declaration to the Spanish press agency, EFE. [plus- more - mas]
The regional parliament of Galicia unanimously pronounced itself in favour of the "legitimate right of the Saharawi people to self-determination through the organisation of a referendum" in order to reach an "urgent, fair and lasting solution" to the conflict in Western Sahara. The Galician members of parliament called also for the Spanish government to "intensify" its foreign policy to make "international law respected and implement the different resolutions of the United Nations Security Council".
An international parliamentary colloquium on "Self-determination of peoples, vector of peace and development", was organised in the seat of the National Popular Assembly on the initiative of the parliamentary group of friendship and fraternity between Algeria and Western Sahara. About fifteen foreign delegations from Europe, Latin America and above all Africa, as well as members of Algerian civil society want to draw up a "strategy with practical steps" of support for the Saharawi people to "go beyond statements of principle". An African interparliamentary group of solidarity with the Saharawi people was created and a "founding declaration" was signed by parliamentarians from Algeria, South Africa, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia and Niger. The group wrote to the Security Council to ask it to organise a referendum of self-determination.[SPS]
Negotiation within the context of the UN "remains the key to a political solution" to the conflict in Western Sahara, "notwithstanding the circumstances", the President of the Saharawi Parliament, Mahfoudh Ali Beïba, stated. Realism "is to see things as they are, not as one wishes they might be", he retorted, making allusion to the statements of van Walsum.[SPS]
Lyn Allison, leader of the Australian Democrats Party, expressed her "great concern" about the human rights situation in the Saharawi occupied territories in a letter which she sent to the Moroccan embassy in Australia. The Australia Western Sahara Association (AWSA) sent a similar letter to the Moroccan Minister of the Interior, calling for the release of Saharawi political prisoners.
30.04.08, Security Council Resolution S/RES/1813 (2008)
The resolution takes up the recommendations of the Secretary General's report and those of the last two resolutions. The Council renews the mandate for a year, although the Secretary General had recommended six months. But behind the words there are hidden disagreements. There is no unanimity. The resolution was concocted by the "group of friends of WS" and imposed on the other members of the Security Council. There was no will to arrive at a consensus, according to Kumalo, South African president of Security Council for April.
The amendments presented by South Africa and Costa Rica on human rights and the respect of the international context were not accepted. The opposition was led by France, but the Russian representative threatened to use his technical veto at the least mention of human rights in the draft resolution, Costa Rica revealed.
The notion of "realism" was refused by South Africa, Costa Rica and Panama, "because it's in the name of this very principle that one should say to the Palestinians to accept the situation in the Middle East and to the Serbs to recognise Kosovo. We must take care that this realism is not imposed...to the detriment of the Polisario Front and to the advantage of Morocco". "Nobody can deny the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people"..."To call for realism gives the impression that might is right", the South African Ambassador to the UN observed.
In a spirit of compromise, South Africa, Panama and Costa Rica did not oppose the resolution, which was adopted unanimously. [plus - more - mas]
In a statement Mhamed Khadad "welcomed the fact that the Security Council had decided, once again, to confirm and endorse international law concerning the question of Western Sahara". He exhorted Morocco to show "realism" and a "sense of compromise", based on the fact of the "incontrovertible national reality" of Western Sahara "carried by a people sure of their right" to self-determination. The only way consists in "the free and democratic exercise by the Saharawi people of their inalienable right to self-determination and independence through a regular referendum respectful of the doctrine and practice of the United Nations concerning decolonisation," he explained. "That is the realistic way. Any other way would be a real denial of justice which would reward the aggressor and perpetuate the conflict with all the unfortunate consequences that such a situation implies", he concluded.
For Morocco, the new resolution "constitutes a new and important stage which endorses the turn already taken since last year in the development of the negotiations around the "Moroccan-ness of the Sahara", the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Taib Fassi Fihri affirmed.
Algeria welcomed the "constancy of the Security Council's position" of the UN on the nature of the conflict in Western Sahara and the conditions of its settlement, the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs pointed out.
The representative of the USA declared after the adoption that "an independent Saharawi state not being a realistic solution for this conflict, the next cycles of negotiation should concentrate on the autonomy proposal. Morocco presented a plan and if the Polisario Front does not agree, it is invited also to present one." During a press conference of the North American Minister of Foreign Affairs, the spokesman said that "The United States welcomes the unanimous adoption of Resolution 1813. In our view, some form of autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty is the only realistic way forward to resolve this longstanding conflict. We urge the parties to focus future discussions on a mutually-acceptable autonomy regime that is consistent with the aspirations of the people of Western Sahara. The United States will support these efforts." [Daily Press briefing]
Spain's aid for development to Morocco is now ten times larger than under the former government of Aznar. It has passed from 13.5 million euros in 2003 to 104 million for 2008, according to El Economista. [El Economista]
09.04.08, Proposal for a Union for the Mediterranean
The proposal of the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy for the promotion of a Euro-Mediterranean partnership (Euromed) into a Union for the Mediterranean neglects the "illegal annexation" of Western Sahara by Morocco, M'hamed Khadad, underlined, member of the National Secretariat of the Polisario Front, in an analysis published by the weekly, European voice .
07-18.04.08, first session of the Universal Periodic Review or UPR ) by the Human Rights Council
A press conference on the topic: "Will the UN finally bring to an end over quarter of a century of injustice and human rights abuses in Western Sahara?" was organised on 4 April in the Palais des Nations in Geneva, in anticipation of the examination by the UN Human Rights Council of the situation in Morocco within the context of the Universal Periodic Review. [more]
08.04.08: Universal Periodic Review, Morocco: see special page: http://www.arso.org/EPU040408.htm
[Document of the Human Rights Council A/HRC/WG.6/1/MAR/4: REPORT OF THE WORKING GROUP ON THE UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW, Morocco,10.04.08 (conclusions/report)]
[Sahara Occidental : Torture and forced disappearance remain a current practice. Report presented to the principal mandate-holders having adopted the report on Morocco after its examination by the Council, Polisario Front, 16 April 2008, French]
09.04.08, critical voices
The President of the Association of Moroccan Women, Saida Drissi Amrany, stated that "when Arab and African countries agreed to congratulate each other...it is an insult to intelligence of the peoples that they are supposed to represent". Same remark on the part of
El Hassan Aharrath, of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights AMDH, who declared that friendly countries "ally themselves together to make sure that the real questions are never put". [Reuters]
The WFP revised programme for food aid to the Saharawi refugees was approved. A new "letter of understanding" was signed by the secretary general of the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Madjid Bougerra, and the representative of the WFP in Algeria, Richard Hayes Dalrymple Jr, in the presence of the deputy UN High Commissioner for Refugees, M. Craig Johnstone, on a visit to Algiers and to the Saharawi refugee camps. [SPS]
The Spanish Agency of international cooperation decided to support this programme with a sum of 2 million euros.
At the request of the Spanish Agency and ECHO, the WFP accepted to include programmes of supplementary nutrition in the new PRRO 10172.2 for pregnant and nursing women as well as for small children. [02.04.08 APPA esp.] [WFP budget revision] [WFP PRRO 10172.2 2007/2008]
Meeting in Brussels, immigrants of Algerian origin decided to create an Algerian-Belgian association of support for the Saharawi people.
Exposición pictórica de Fadel Jalife en la sede de la Cámara legislativa del Estado de Morelos, México: http://www.lajornadamorelos.com/noticias/cultura/61764?task=view
At the seat of European institutions, a large delegation of European civile society met Patrick Child, head of the cabinet of the Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Michel Koehler, head of the deputy-cabinet of the Commissioner Joe Borg , as well as desk officials of Morocco, Western Sahara, Human Rights in the European Commission. In the European Parliament, the delegation was received by the Presidents or Vice-Presidents of the PPE-ED, PSE, GUE, and the Greens, as well as by the Presidents or Vice-Presidents of the Committees for Foreign Affairs, Fishing, the sub-committee on Human Rights, the ad-hoc Delegation for Western Sahara and the parliamentary intergroup "Peace for the Saharawi people". Ioannis Kasoulides, MEP, announced that he would take the "offensive" to accomplish the fact-finding mission of the European Parliament on the human rights situation in the Saharawi territories, blocked by Rabat for three years. [SPS]
The club "Nation et République", a discussion group directed by the UMP member of parliament Jacques Myard, debated within the French National Assembly the Saharawi question. The debate began with the showing of a documentary film by Jean Lamore, who was present at the debate. His film shows images of "wide-scale repression" of the forces of the Moroccan police against the Saharawi people. [SPS]
Conferencia-coloquio a cargo de Hmad Hammad, Vicepresidente del Comité Saharaui de Apoyo a la Autodeterminación del Sáhara Occidental y activista de Derechos Humanos en los Territorios Ocupados por Marruecos. http://poemariosahara.blogspot.com/search/label/Hmad%20Hamad
[entrevista Hmad] http://www.eldiariomontanes.es/20080416/cantabria/silencio-peor-enemigo-derechos-20080416.html
Demonstration of support to the Saharawi people of about a hundred people outside the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Madrid called by CEAS, la Coordinadora estatal de asociaciones solidarias con el Sahara, on the occasion of the investiture of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. [EFE] http://poemariosahara.blogspot.com/2008/04/concentracin-frente-al-ministerio-de.html
A hundred people met to protest about the declarations of Jose Montilla, president of the Generalitat de Catalunya, the Catalonian autonomous government, called by AISAC (Associació d'Immigrants Sahrauis a Catalunya). Montilla had spoken in favour of the Moroccan autonomy proposal. http://sahararesiste.blogspot.com/2008/04/15-de-abril-barcelona-concentracin-de.html - http://sahararesiste.blogspot.com/2008/04/xito-de-la-concentracin-en-barcelona.html
17-20.04.08 The Ve international film festival Fisahara 08 was very successful. Some figures: 26 films competed, over 300 professionals of the 7th art, producers, actors, camermen from the entire world attended, at the forefront, the star, Javier Bardem, Oscar winner in 2007.
Numerous side activities included round table discussions, workshops for the youth, camel racing and a closing concert by Manu Chao took place on the fringe of the festival. Finally the cinema professionals called for the creation of an association of film-makers in solidarity with the cause of the Saharawi Republic. [Sahara-Info especial]
A caravan from the Association of Friends of SADR brought school equipment to Saharawi children in the refugee camps. The caravan was organised in three French towns, Le Mans, Albi and Nantes, in order to "express their support for the just cause of the Saharawi people".[SPS]
La representante de Relaciones Exteriores de la U.N.M.S., Suelma Beirut participó en la Universidad de Valladolid en un coloquio sobre la mujer saharaui organizado por Ingeniería sin Fronteras y dentro del Curso "Desarrollo, Â¿cuestión de Género?." Por otra parte en el apartado de "Proyectos de Cooperación con perspectiva de Género", Suelma Beiruk habló del proyecto "Casas de Mujer", recordando que el mismo comenzó ha desarrollarse hace cinco a-os para fomentar la participación y la emancipación de la mujer saharaui. En la actualidad están funcionando en todas las wilayas de los campamentos.
Presentation of the project, Digital Bridge, mandated by the region of Latium and coordinated by the Fondazione Mondo Digitale which plans to set up technological collaboration with the camps.
In the context of international conferences Voces de Mujeres 2008 (Women's Voices) organised by ASPA (Asociacion solidaridad y paz andaluza), the Saharawi human rights defender and member of CODESA, Aminatou Haidar gave a lecture on "the Saharawi woman and Moroccan repression", as well as a press conference.
Conferencia sobre la situación del Sahara en la Universidad Carlos III (Getafe), con Bucharaya Beyun, Delegado de la República Árabe Saharaui para Espa-a, Fernando Mari-o Menéndez, Presidente del Comité contra la Tortura de la ONU, Catedrático de Derecho Internacional Público de la UC3M, José Taboada Valdés, Presidente de la Coordinadora Estatal de Asociaciones Solidarias con el Sáhara (CEAS-Sáhara).
The Representation of the Polisario Front in Denmark organised in cooperation with the Danish Centre for World Cultures two exhibitions of photos on Western Sahara. The film of the American director, Carlos Gonzalez, "Children of the Clouds", filmed in the occupied territories, was screened. Abba Malainin, deputy representative of the Polisario Front in Denmark, spoke about the hisotry of the Saharawi cause: http://www.kulturhus.kk.dk/verdenskulturcentret/arrangementer/vest-sahara