24 February 2013

Morocco: S and D Group Concerned Over Conviction of Saharawi Rights Activists

Brussels — Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D Group) expressed, in a press release statement published on Thursday, serious concerns on the conviction of a group of Sahrawi human rights activists, call for the protection of Saharawi fundamental rights, such as the right to assembly and freedom of expression, informed POLISARIO Representation to Belgium.

"Véronique De Keyser, vice-president of the S&D Group in charge of foreign affairs, and Norbert Neuser, S&D Euro MP and chair of the intergroup for the Western Sahara, strongly condemn the convictions of Sahrawi civilians and the lack of proper legal procedure," stated the statement.

The statement indicated that the politically motivated sentences against the Sahrawi human rights activists were the outcome of a trial that was fraught with legal irregularities, as highlighted by independent and international observers including two members of the European Parliament, Antonio Masip and Willy Meyer.

Norbert Neuser also recalls numerous European Parliament resolutions - the latest one from 7 February 2013 - that have been initiated and supported by the S&D Group. These express concern for the human rights situation in Western Sahara and call for the protection of Sahrawi fundamental rights, such as the right to assembly and freedom of expression.

The statement, on other hand, demanded a fair and lasting solution to the conflict of Western Sahara on the basis of the Sahrawi people's right to self-determination, in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolution.

Last Friday, the Moroccan military court in Rabat handed out very long prison sentences to 25 Saharawi political prisoners, known as Gdeim Izik detainees: 8 to life sentences, 4 sentenced to 30 years, 8 sentenced to 25 years and 3 sentenced to 20 years.

The group was arrested on 8 November 2010 when Moroccan troops and police violently attacked thousands of Saharawi civilians, who were protesting peacefully at Gdeim Izik Camp close to the occupied city of El Aaiun, capital of Western Sahara.

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