2 April 2014

Morocco: Ahead of Security Council Meeting - Adala UK Calls for Human Rights Mechanism in Western Sahara

London — The British NGO "Adala UK" has called on all non-governmental organizations and governments for an international campaign in order to encourage the UN to vote for a human rights monitoring mandate to be incorporated into the MINURSO (UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara), when to be discussed within the Security Council in April 2014.

Following is the full text of the statement released by Adala UK, a copy of it reached SPS:

"The Moroccan government continues its policy of repression of the Saharawi people's political and social rights in Western Sahara. On 15 April, the UN Security Council and the international community have the opportunity to turn the situation around and ensure that 2014 is not another false dawn for human rights in Western Sahara, by voting in favour of a human rights monitoring manadate for MINURSO, the UN mission in Western Sahara.

"The Moroccan government lacks any willingness to improve the human rights situation in Western Sahara. Since April last year, they have blocked internet access and cut mobile phone coverage on several occasions during peaceable demonstrations. At the same time, they have used this technology to spy on human rights activists and journalists.

Since the last UN resolution in April 2013 (n. 2099), Adala UK activists have witnessed more than 70 demonstrations, all of which were violently suppressed by the Moroccan forces, and have registered more than 730 victims of violence including journalists, activitsts and bloggers, some of whom have had to undergo surgery. In addition to the cases featured in this blog, Adala UK has documented many instances of human rights activists being banned from travelling abroad, threatened, detained and tortured.

These activists play a crucial role in talking about the human rights, poverty and marginalisation experienced by the Saharawi community in the occupied territories, as well as women's rights, the brutality of repression and, most importantly, the right to self-determination. It is essential to protect these activists so they can continue their important work, and show them that the international community is in solidarity with them.

We highlight the following points:

- The growth in attempts made by the Morrocan government to suppress the culture of the indigenous Saharawi people. For instance: not allowing people to use Saharawi names for their children on ID cards and Moroccan passports; banning children from wearing traditional Saharawi dress at school and; prohibiting the Jaima - the Saharawi tents where people can meet together, something inherent to the Bedouin origin of the Saharawi people.

- The resettlement of Moroccan citizens to Western Sahara, which began in 1975, has now reached a point where Moroccans form the majority of the population in the occupied territories of Western Sahara.

- Saharawi citizens are frequently victims of sustained physical and verbal attacks at the hands of Moroccan government forces in response to their demonstrations for self-determination. They often then do not receive proper medical attention in hospitals. The state impunity of the government officials responsible for these crimes against human rights has been continuing since 1975, such as the cases of Mohamad El Haisoni and Mohamad Anashti, despite the complaints Saharawi citizens have made against them.

- The governments that play down the burning desire of the Saharawis for freedom and justice should act to support the Saharawi people's right to justice and self-determination as recognised by the UN instead of offering political support to the Morrocan government. Through support and the promotion of human rights, these governments would show their impartiality and their intention to force those responsible for human rights violations, whoever they may be, to appear before the International Criminal Court when all other means have failed.

- Those companies who supply internet and social networking as well as mobile phone service providers in Western Sahara must respect people's human rights and privacy and should not act as a tool of the repressive authorities for the suppression of freedom of expression and for spying on people.

- The demand of the Sharawis for political and economic rights which exists in all cities of Western Sahara shows that all rights are equally important and are a requirement at global level.

AdalaUK seeks the support of NGOS and governments for an international compaign in order to encourage the UN to vote for a human rights monitoring mandate to be incorporated into MINURSO in April 2014.

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