Elkouria Amidane is a 22-year-old Saharawi student and human rights activist from Western Sahara. Amidane visited Norway last summer and made such an impact with young people that she was invited back by the National Union of Students in Norway for a second tour of visits.
Because of our several involvements with the Saharawi refugee problem, we were asked if we were interested in being one of the stops in Elkouria’s itinerary. We leapt at the opportunity, given her reputation as an eloquent voice for the cause of the Saharawis, and we were certainly not disappointed. The event finally took place on Saturday evening, after her plane was grounded in Oslo, and after the subsequent flight that she did catch was diverted to Florø, both on account of bad weather.
Those who were present on Saturday evening heard a truly inspiring account of courage in the face of adversity, as well as becoming better informed about what life is like for so many of the inhabitants of the occupied Western Sahara.
Illustrated by a series of vivid photographs, as well as a covert documentary made by an American visitor (shortly afterwards deported and accused of being a spy for Hugo Chavez!) Amidane’s talk engaged us in this real, and really resolvable, conflict. It affects people we know on campus, and now someone else whom we feel we know well after hearing her speak and having her here for a day and a half.
We are concerned about her safety on her return home in early December. The potential to work towards a solution to the Saharawi problem resides in a small way with all of us who really engaged with her, and we are very grateful for her visit.
Photo: Someya, a Sahrawi student at UWC, together with Elkouria Amidane.
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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