17 January 2013

Western Sahara: Danish Organization - It Is Immoral and Against International Law to Haul Civilians Before Military Courts

Copenhagen — In a letter sent Thursday to the Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Villy Sovndal, related to the trial of the 23 Saharawi human rights activists the Danish Organization, Afrika Kontakt said that: " It is immoral and against international law to haul civilians before military court. "

For the third time, the military court in Rabat, Morocco, has set a date for the 23 Saharawi political prisoners and human rights activists imprisoned in Salé prison. They have been detained since Moroccan security forces dismantled and destroyed the Gdeim Izik protest camp near the occupied Western Sahara capital of El Aaiun in 2010. The trial is set for 1 February.

There has been no independent or impartial investigation into the events in Gdeim Izik, nor of the events of following weeks in and around El Aaiun, where the Moroccan police and security forces allegedly tortured and otherwise mistreated dozens of Saharawis.

Africa Contact believes that the arrest, detention and trial of the 23 Saharawis are a direct result of their legitimate and peaceful work as human rights activists, especially in the occupied territories of Western Sahara.

Africa Contact therefore calls on the Danish government to bring to the attention of the Moroccan Government:

  • That it is immoral and against international law to haul civilians before military courts
  • That the Danish government therefore requires that the case either be moved to a civil court, or that they are unconditionally released
  • That the 23 human rights activists have already completed four hunger strikes to try to make the public aware of their case, and the brutal treatment they are subjected to
  • That the Danish government demands that the security and well-being of the activists is guaranteed, e.g. through visits by independent bodies
  • That all Saharawis human rights activists, who are wrongly imprisoned in Moroccan prisons as are the 23 activists, are unconditionally released and that human rights activists in the occupied territories of Western Sahara be able to work in their own country without fear of reprisal or restrictions

the Danish Organization also called on the Danish government to ensure that the rights of the Saharawis in the occupied territories are protected by requiring that MINURSOs mandate is extended, so the mission in the future will be able to monitor and report on the human rights situation in occupied Western Sahara - as it is now, MUNURSO is the only UN mission that has no such mandate.

Africa Contact believes, and works to ensure, that the truth about Western Sahara is revealed to the world and that governments such as the Danish government, who have declared that they will fight for human rights should act in such a crystal clear case like this, as the court case against the 23 Saharawi activists is not just an isolated incident, but part of a deliberate plan that seeks to marginalize and suppress the Saharawis in their own country, while Morocco plunders resources that rightfully belong to the Saharawis.

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