El Aaiun, Western Sahara,
December 10th, 2008.
The Collective of Sahrawi Human Rights Defenders, CODESA, celebrates The International Day for Human Rights, which coincides with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights under the theme: "Freedom and Hope for the Prisoner and the Disappeared".
The aim is to express the CODESA's commitment to speak out against the human rights violations and to work for the release of the Sahrawi political prisoners. Yahya Mohamed Elhafed, the CODESA and the AMDH Tantan-section member, is the human rights defender sentenced to the longest detention period, 15 years imprisonment.
While commemorating the international day for human rights, the CODESA expresses its great concerns about the human rights situation in the Western Sahara, south of Morocco and at the Moroccan universities where the Sahrawi students continue their high studies. During the few years, but especially the year 2008, the Moroccan authorities intensified its repressive campaigns against the Sahrawis wherever they are. As a way of illustration, we will site a few examples here:
-Yahya Mohamed Elhafed, a human rights defender, already sacked out of work for his political position concerning the Western Sahara issue, was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. Four other Sahrawi youth from Tantan, south of Morocco, were sentenced to four years' imprisonment in Inzegane Prison, Morocco. Two of these youth (Najem Baouba and Mahmoud Elbarkawi) had been raped by glass bottles while in custody in Tantan police station before they were sent to court.
-Elmoustapha Abdedayem, a human rights defender and a "surveillant general" in a high school in Assa, south of Morocco, was arrested and sentenced in the first instance for three years' imprisonment, 50000 dhs fine (about 5000 US dollars) and ten years ban from work at any sector. Abdedayem had been arrested for removing the Moroccan flag from the high school he was working in as a protest against the fierce Moroccan oppression against Sahrawi demonstrations in Assa, calling for the Sahrawi people's right to self-determination in October 2008.
-In late November/early December 2008, the Moroccan authorities intensified its repression against the Sahrawi university students and the whole Sahrawi population, which ended in the killing of two Sahrawi students in Agadir, Morocco at a peaceful sit-in. On December 01st, the Sahrawi students were protesting against the travel agency SUPRATOUR for not keeping their promise to bring enough buses for the Sahrawi students in order to take them to their home cities. The police agents, surrounding the sit-in and controlling the situation, intervened after the coach ran over many of the demonstrators and murdered two students on the spot ( Elhoucine Abdessadeq Lekief, 20 years old, and Baba Khaya, 22 years old). A third student was sent to hospital in coma, and many others were seriously injured. Instead of arresting the bus driver, the police only intervened to beat and arrest the other Sahrawi students at the bus station.
-The human rights defenders in general and the CODESA members in particular, have increasingly been banned, from continuing their higher studies at the Moroccan universities while there is no single university in the whole Western Sahara for political reasons. Ali Salem Tamek and Alamine Sahel, both members of the CODESA, have not been allowed to study this year at university in Mohamedia and Agadir, Morocco for their advocacy for self-determination of the Western Sahara.
-The Moroccan states is still doing its best to keep the European Parliament commission from meeting the Sahrawi victims in the Western Sahara by deciding a prearranged schedule for them that excludes the Sahrawi human rights organisations.
- It is also still working hard together with other countries not to publish the report made by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights after their visit to Morocco and the Western Sahara between May 16th and 19th, 2006.The report insists that the main reason behind all the abuses in the Western Sahara is the violation of the right to self-determination.
-The Sahrawi human rights defender, El Haiba Emah, has been a target for the Moroccan police in Tantan, south of Morocco, represented by the police head officer in the city, Mustapha Kammour, known for his aggressiveness against the Sahrawis and responsible for the miscarriage of a Sahrawi woman, Ghlaina Barhah, in El Aaiun, Western Sahara by deliberately kicking her on the belly after urinating on her in the police station. Recently, El Haiba Elmah, a member of the CODESA and AMDH –Tantan section, was aggressively attacked by Mustapha Kammour, on December 2008 at the funeral of the Sahrawi student Elhoucine Abdesadeq Lektief, murdered at the university students sit-in in Agadir, Morocco.
-The Moroccan authorities are still continuing to ban the Sahrawi population fro peaceful protest (Sahrawi students at middle and high schools) Sahrawi workers at the Phosphate company controlled by the Moroccan state, university graduates and high diplomas holders as well as the other Sahrawi groups calling for their rights for work and organisation.
-The Sahrawi victims of landmines are still being neglected by the Moroccan authorities and the landmines still continue to kill the Sahrawi nomads on a daily basis.
-The CODESA and the other Sahrawi human rights organisations are still denied the right to organise their constitutive assembly and get their legal documents in order to work publicly.
In this context, the Collective of the Sahrawi Human Rights Defenders based in El Aaiun, Western Sahara
1. expresses its unconditioned solidarity with the victims of human rights abuses worldwide in general and in the Western Sahara in particular.
2.calls the Moroccan state to start a fair and transparent investigation in the murder of the two Sahrawi students, Elhoucine Lektief and Baba Khaya on December 01st, 2008 in Agadir, Morocco.
3. expresses its great concern about the intensifying of the human rights abuses by the Moroccan state against the Sahrawis (Sultana Khaya lost her eye while being tortured in a police van in Marrakesh, Morocco, Elouali Qadimi is still completely paralysed after being thrown from the fourth floor by the Moroccan police at a violent intervention against the Sahrawi students in Marrakech university campus).
4. charges the Moroccan state for the death of the Sahrawi students Baba Khaya and Elhoucine Lektief December 2008, and the other Sahrawis, Dadda Ali Hamma Ennafaa in July 2008 in Ait Mellou Prison, Sidha Abdelaziz in September 2007, Hamdi Lembarki in El Aaiun, on October30th, 2005, Abba Chaikh Lekhlifi in Tantan on December 03rd, 2005, Laamar Sidi Brahim, Mohamed Sidi Brahim and Taleb Sidi Menna murdered by a military lorry on the way to Dakhla, Western Sahara and the three Sahrawi common law prisoners Mohamed Boussetta, Ramdan Ellaithi and Hassan Haddi in 2004 and Slaiman Chwihi in 2004.
-calls all the international human rights organisations and associations to exert pressure on Morocco to respect the Sahrawis right to free expression, assembly peaceful protest and access to their passports and to disclose the fate of the Sahrawi disappeared.
The Executive Board of the CODESA,
El Aaiun, Western Sahara,
December 10th, 2008.