Norwegian youth politicians expelled from Western Sahara
A group of four Norwegian youth politicians were expelled from Western Sahara yesterday. Their goal was to meet with Saharawi human rights activists to learn more about the conflict, and the excessive human rights violations.
The group's arrival to El Aaiun took place only few days after the arrival of the UN special envoy, Cristopher Ross, to Western Sahara last week. The visit also coincided with the ongoing negotiations between Morocco and EU on new fish deals, which includes fish from occupied Western Sahara.
The fisheries agreement have been deemed to be in violation with international law as long as the Saharawis themselves do not t consent to them - the EU has still not tried to seek consent of the Saharawi people.
However upon arrival Monday November 5th the youth politicians were given curfew, and ordered to stay inside Hotel Nagjir in Laayoune. The day after they got a room call from the reception telling them to come down to the lobby, in the lobby 15 police officers was waiting for them. The Norwegians have now been expelled from Western Sahara, and has been transported to the Moroccan city Agadir. In Agadir they were dropped off in the street last night.
During the last weeks the situation in Western Sahara seems to have been escalating. Use of excessive police force are now being reported and videotaped on a daily basis.
Yesterday marked Morocco's anniversary of the invasion of Western Sahara in 1975. This November is also the two year mark of the protest camp Gdeim Izik that was set up by Saharawi’s just outside Laayoune. The camp was dismantled by Moroccan troops, with casualties on both sides in the ensuing chaos. All of this is contributing to a tense situation in Western Sahara. The expelling of the Norwegians must be seen as a clear indicator from Morocco that they want to hide what’s going on - this becomes especially important because of the ongoing negotiations with the EU.
One of the parties that had a representative travelling was the Labour Youth Party. Their leader Eskil Pedersen says in a comment to their website that “the world has to open their eyes and the see the brutal behavior of Morocco in Western Sahara”. Meanwhile the Saharawis are still suffering in a conflict forgotten and overlooked by the world.
Since 1975, three quarters of the territory of Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco. A majority of the population is still living in refugee camps in Algeria. Those who remained in their homeland are subjected to serious harassment from the Moroccan occupiers. For more than 40 years the Sahrawis have been waiting for the fullfilment of their legitimate right to self-determination.
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