Subscription 790/year or 190/quarter

Fails Western Sahara

The UN peacekeeping forces will still not monitor human rights violations in Western Sahara. "The world community is failing us," says student leader and poet Hamza Lakhal.


Police violence, torture, persecution of human rights activists and random detentions. These are the tools the Moroccan authorities use to prevent the struggle for independence in Western Sahara, according to a new report from the Students 'and Academics' International Aid Fund (SAIH). Despite the fact that the UN is present in the occupied country, there is no systematic reporting of human rights violations in what is referred to as "Africa's last colony". Now both Sahrawi activists and SAIH demand that the Norwegian authorities and the international community must put pressure on the UN and Morocco to get movement in the deadlocked conflict. Large dark numbers. "It is as if we do not belong to the world," the Sahrawi poet and student leader Hamza Lakhal told Ny Tid. In the last year, he has traveled around his home country Western Sahara and tried to gather information about human rights violations committed by Morocco, which occupies large parts of the country. Together with the British researcher Joanna Allan at the University of Leeds, he has written the report "Acting with impunity" on behalf of SAIH. The report, which was released on Monday 13 April, provides a gloomy description of the situation: Lakhal and Allan have registered over 250 serious human rights violations, which include over 50 cases of police violence and several cases of torture and arbitrary imprisonment of activists. The worst examples have had fatal consequences. On January 30 this year, 20-year-old Mohammed Lamin Haidala was stabbed in the neck with a pair of scissors by Moroccan settlers in El Aaiún, Western Sahara's largest city. He was then arrested by Moroccan authorities and imprisoned without adequate treatment for several days. Eight days after the stabbing, Haidala died. Hamza Lakhal believes that the human rights violations documented in the report are only the tip of the iceberg. "These are just examples from the last year we have been able to document. The scope is probably much larger than what the report gives the impression of, "he believes, adding that the nature of the occupation in itself violates human rights. "We do not have access to our own universities, and Sahrawi culture is being systematically suppressed by Morocco." Lakhal himself was banned from education for ten years after participating in student protests in the early 2000s. Only last year did he finish high school.

"Western countries regret the occupation, with neither condemning nor pressuring Morocco." Hamza Lakhal

The paradox. 30. April, the UN Security Council will examine the mandate of the UN force MINURSO, which has been stationed in the country since 1991. MINURSO is the only UN force of its kind that is also not responsible for human rights monitoring in the area in which it operates. Moroccan diplomacy has so far put an effective end to such an extended mandate. According to the Saharan news agency SPS, they will manage this this year as well. France, which has a permanent seat on the Security Council and is an ally of Morocco, is accused by Sahrawi and international human rights organizations of being the country that prevents the UN from monitoring the human rights situation in the country. "Because of this, Morocco can commit human rights violations unpunished," Lakhal and Allen write in the report. "It is a paradoxical situation," says Jørn Wichne Pedersen, leader of SAIH to Ny Tid. "One of the UN's main tasks is to monitor and prevent human rights violations, but here the UN force in the country is prevented from doing just that." In connection with the launch of the report, SAIH launched a national campaign last week to get the Sahrawi struggle on the agenda. "Norway must take a leadership role to put human rights violations on the agenda and recognize the right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination," Pedersen believes. The patient people. The Saharawi marks a bleak anniversary this year: It is 40 years since one occupant was replaced by another. In 1975, the former colonial power of Spain withdrew from the North West African country. In the same year, Morocco and Mauritania moved in from each other, dividing the country between themselves. The Sahrawi liberation movement Polisario expelled Mauritania in 1979, but continued the struggle against Morocco, which today occupies three-quarters of Western Sahara's territory. In 1991, the parties agreed on a ceasefire, and the following year a referendum was held in the areas to determine what status the areas should have. Twenty-four years later, no referendum has been held. "It's as if we don't belong to the world." Hamza Lakhal "It's a tragic situation," Hamza Lakhal believes. “MINURSO was actually stationed in Western Sahara to monitor the referendum. Now it has been 24 years, and the world community has allowed the occupation to continue almost without protest. " Moroccan authorities maintain that the referendum should only give the people of Western Sahara greater autonomy, while Polisario demands that full detachment be an alternative. At the same time, Morocco has been accused of using its own population and business to make the occupation permanent, contrary to international law. Since 1975, more than 100 Moroccans have served in the military and an unknown number of private companies have settled in the occupied territories, according to Al Jazeera. Both Moroccan and international companies are involved in the mineral and fishing industry in the country, despite the fact that this is also regarded as international law. Recently, Morocco has also started oil exploration off the coast of Western Sahara. 1. April told Ny Tid that the Norwegian company Seabird Exploration was involved in seismic shooting in the areas. Norwegian authorities advise against, but do not prohibit, businesses from conducting business in Western Sahara. This is also the attitude among most other western states. "It's hypocritical," Hamza Lakhal said. "Western countries regret the occupation, with neither condemning nor pressuring Morocco.

You may also like