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Sahrawi teenager raped by police officers
hayat_erguibi_510.jpg

The 16-year-old was undressed and raped during interrogation.
Published: 24.02 - 2009 11:21Printer version    
[After this story was first published, it has come information that the victim was 19 years, not 16 as first assumed. See clarifying story here.]

Last Sunday night, on the way out of her family's house in al Quds street in El Aaiun, the 16 year old pupil was stopped by the police.

According to her own testimony to the Sahrawi human rights organizations ASVDH and ODS, she was handcuffed and her face was covered with a dirty cloth. She was then taken into a police car, where she was beaten. The police took her to an unknown location.

Shortly after being taken out of the car, two police officers arrived. The victim has been able to identify and name both of them to the Sahrawi human rights organizations. They interrogated her about Western Sahara flags that have been distributed around El Aaiun, and about Western Sahara graffiti that has been painted on come school buildings recently.

When she said she did not recognize the allegations, the two police officers undressed and raped her. During interrogation she was threatened that if she didn't give the police the information they sought, her younger siblings would be kidnapped as well.

As the interrogation ended, she was threatened that she would be killed if she publicized the story.

But she did it anyway. Both the victim's name, descriptions of the rape method and photos of her have been distributed by email by human rights groups in Western Sahara this week.

"This is terrible. I know her well", said the winner of the Student Peace Prize 2009, Elkouria Amidane.

Amidane is now in Trondheim, Norway, and is going to receive the award this Friday. When the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara called Amidane on Tuesday morning, she had not yet heard of the episode.

She said the victim is a close friend of her family.

"She often comes to our house to drink tea or eat dinner. She is one of my little sister's best friends", said Amidane.  

    

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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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