At its Board Meeting in Vilnius, December 2nd 2007, The European Students' Union (ESU) unanimously voted through a motion calling for the protection of Sahrawi students. ESU is the umbrella organisation of 47 national unions of students from 36 countries. In total, ESU represents today 11 million students all over Europe. Read also: Norwegian Student Unions pass resolution on Western Sahara. Read also: Students at Ås University declare their support
The text was proposed by the two national student unions in Norway: Norwegian Association of Students and The National Union of Students in Norway.
This is the text that was passed:
Protect the Sahrawi students! The European Student Union (ESU) wishes to express its solidarity with students from Western Sahara, illegally occupied by Morocco.
Since there are no universities in Western Sahara, Sahrawi students have no other options for study except in the neighbouring country of Morocco, where they face various forms of discrimination.
Politically active Sahrawis have on several occasions been arrested or expelled from universities. Furthermore, their physical security is threatened at their place of study.
The last violent attacks took place in May this year, when Moroccan police stormed the universities of Casablanca, Agadir, Rabat and Marrakech, injuring and arresting dozens of Sahrawi students. Some of the attacks involved severe beatings and sexual abuse, as well as harassment of hospitalised victims. Sahrawi students' living quarters were ransacked and thrashed by the police. The Moroccan police, while carrying out the violent aggressions, pronounced discriminating statements towards the Sahrawis, referring to their political aspirations for an independent Western Sahara. Photo: Elkouria Amidane from Western Sahara, together with the president of the European Students' Union, Koen Geven. ESU believes that the growing and quite understandable frustration and despair witnessed among Sahrawi youth and students today, and the brutality with which the Moroccan police chooses to respond to it, risk causing further conflict, violent confrontations and disruption in both Morocco and Western Sahara.
As the protest of the Sahrawi students have been centred on the right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination and freedom from occupation, it is important to remember that this right has been established through more than one hundred United Nations Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. According to a 1991 UN-brokered peace agreement, the Sahrawis were to choose between independence and integration in a free, fair and transparent referendum. Now, 16 years later, the agreement has still not been implemented. The Moroccan government today openly rejects these previous agreements, thus undermining the UN's efforts and continuing to violate international law.
ESU strongly urges the Moroccan authorities to do its outmost to protect the rights of all students enrolled at Moroccan universities. In struggling for their right for independence, the Sahrawi students must not be deprived of their legitimate right to freedom of expression, movement, association and assembly. ESU wishes to stress that the Moroccan government has a duty to respect and protect those rights.
ESU hereby calls upon the EU institutions
to support the Saharawi students getting the education they need to build a strong, democratic and prosperous society in Western Sahara. Sufficient opportunities for higher education must be provided for those Saharawis living under occupation, in the refugee camps and through exchange programs/quotas at universities in Europe.
to exercise pressure on Morocco so that the Sahrawi students’ rights are respected and so that their physical security is guaranteed.
to react vis-à-vis the Moroccan government, which since 2004 has rejected to accept a referendum for independence, in violation of international law’s principles of self-determination and of the peace agreements signed.
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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