Mohammed Abdelaziz, President of SADR and General Secretary of Polisario was the Guest of Honor at the 2009 IUSY festival in Hungary. He gave a speech before the participants of a conference on Western Sahara organised by IUSY at the festival. Read full transcript below.
We are very delighted to be guests representing the Sahrawi people at this great youth gathering, the IUSY Festival 2009.
We are very thankful to IUSY for the kind invitation to take part in the activities of the Festival, and we are grateful to Societas - New Movement from Hungary for hosting us in this great country and in this wonderful city of Zanka.
As you know, Western Sahara is the last decolonisation issue in Africa, and has been on the UN agenda since 1963 as a Non-Self-Governing Territory, an issue that can only be settled through the implementation of the right to self-determination as enshrined in the UN Charter.
This irrefutable fact was reaffirmed by the report of the UN Visiting Mission and the ruling of the International Court of Justice of 1975 and other subsequent resolutions including the ruling issued by the UN Legal Advisor in 2002. All these documents have also reaffirmed the historical and legal responsibility of the United Nations and Spain for the decolonisation of Western Sahara.
The Frente POLISARIO was created in 1973, as the sole and legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people and their vehicle to secure their sacred right to self-determination and independence. The position defended by the Frente POLISARIO is anchored in international legality and the fact that sovereignty over Western Sahara is an exclusive competence of the Sahrawi people, which cannot be determined by anyone in their stead. The Sahrawi people, therefore, should be given the chance to decide their destiny in a free, transparent and democratic manner.
On 31 October 1975, the Moroccan Kingdom militarily invaded Western Sahara and in the process committed heinous crimes including assassination, genocide and bombing civilians with internationally banned substances such as napalm and phosphorus. It then agreed with Mauritania, and with Spain’s blessing and collusion, to partition Western Sahara. All these acts represented a blatant violation of the letter and spirit of the dictates of international legality. They have also led to a painful tragedy with dire consequences for the peaceful Sahrawi people, the brotherly Moroccan people, and the peoples of the region at large.
It was the Moroccan Government that reneged on its international commitments. The Moroccan Government officially singed with the Sahrawi side the UN Settlement Plan in 1991, and the additional Houston Agreements in 1997, which all called for the holding of a self-determination referendum for the Sahrawi people. The Moroccan Government not only obstructed deliberately the UN successive efforts. In 2004, it also declared openly its utter rejection of the principle of self-determination and of any solution that would not legitimate, in advance, its illegal occupation of Western Sahara.
Therefore, the conflict in Western Sahara is between two forces. On the one hand, the Moroccan occupying power that keeps on violating the UN and international resolutions and trying to impose an illegal occupation. On the other, the Sahrawi people, under the leadership of the Frente POLISARIO, who are only demanding to exercise their internationally recognised, legitimate and fundamental human right, namely the right to self-determination.
With the support of some countries, especially France, Morocco persists in its defiance and its attempt to impose colonial solutions, and insists on the so-called “autonomy within Moroccan sovereignty” as the only solution to the conflict. Yet the Sahrawi people, together with all free people in the world, continue to struggle for a democratic, transparent and fair solution based on the self-determination referendum.
The Moroccan Government, which boasts of being democratic and open, seeks to impose on the Sahrawis only one option, to be determined first by it and then presented to be voted in the ballot. One cannot impose one single option on others, and then claims to be democratic.
The Frente POLISARIO has always demonstrated its readiness and cooperation for achieving a peaceful and just solution to the conflict. It has even accepted that the referendum would include autonomy, which is defended by Morocco, but in addition to the options of independence and integration that have been established by the UN and accepted by the two parties to the conflict. We look forward to seeing Morocco acting responsibly and showing genuine political will to ensure the success of the ongoing negotiations under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General and his personal envoy, which aim to implement international legality by enabling the Sahrawi people to exercise their right to self-determination and independence.
Unfortunately, we have not yet seen any move by Morocco in the right direction. Morocco persists in its defiance and disregard for international resolutions and conventions. Dozens of specialised international organisations, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, have demonstrated that Morocco continues to commit gross human rights violations against Sahrawi civilians, human rights activists and students in Western Sahara, Southern Morocco and at universities in Morocco, while keeping the territory under a tight security siege and a media blackout. Today, there are more than 30 Sahrawi prisoners of conscience in Moroccan prisons, more than 500 disappeared, and 151 prisoners of war held by Morocco.
There is a tremendous military wall erected by the Moroccan forces in Western Sahara. It is the only wall of its kind that still exits in the 21st century, and continues to divide the territory in two and to separate its land and people. It sprawls over more than 2400 kilometres inside the Sahrawi territory and is guarded by thousands of Moroccan soldiers and fortified by a myriad of weaponry, fortifications and millions of internationally banned antipersonnel mines, which continue to take a heavy toll on innocent civilians.
Morocco has been engaged in forced deportation of native Sahrawis and resettlement of Moroccans in the territory. It also persists in exploiting the Sahrawi natural resources in violation of the dictates of international legality that were affirmed by the former UN Legal Advisor, Mr Hans Corell, in 2002 and reaffirmed in 2008.
We can not understand why the European Union signed a fisheries agreement with Morocco, which involves the territorial waters of the occupied Western Sahara. The agreement will allow the two parties to exploit greedily and illegally the Sahrawi fishing grounds.
We have nothing against the EU’s plan to grant Morocco an advanced status membership within the internationally recognised border of this country. However, we cannot understand why Europe, a symbol of civilisation and respect for law, decided to go ahead with this move without openly excluding the occupied Western Sahara, a territory on which Morocco exercises no sovereignty whatsoever, and which is pending decolonisation by the United Nations. It would be a blatant contradiction if Europe, an advocate of liberties and human rights, would make that move without conditioning the new status on Morocco’s immediate cession of its violations of Sahrawi human rights and its settlement policies as well as its pillage of the natural resources of the territory.
It is not possible at all to achieve a true and sustainable development in the Maghreb and North Africa and the Mediterranean without a just and lasting solution to the Western Sahara conflict. The attainment of genuine and lasting peace that guarantees stability, development and regional integration necessarily goes through the enabling of the Sahrawi people to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence.
Ladies and Gentlemen of IUSY leadership,
Dear young men and women,
We come from Africa, from that great continent that for many decades had suffered and continue to endure all sorts of colonialism, injustice and exploitation. Yet it is Africa that has resolutely and valiantly defended and adopted the Sahrawi cause by defending its own principles of decolonisation and self-determination, and the principle of intangibility of borders inherited from colonialism. The Sahrawi Republic (SADR) is a founding member of our continental organisation, the African Union, and shares with its sister African countries the same deep concerns about the difficult situation prevailing in the continent politically, economically and socially.
Our continent is in a dire need for urgent assistance to get out of the vicious spiral of poverty, famine, diseases and armed conflicts that take a heavy toll on hundreds of thousands every year. With regard to IUSY Festival 2009, we are confident that Africa, as others continents, will be present and will participate actively in the workshops, conferences and forums organised during the Festival.
Ladies and Gentlemen of IUSY leadership,
Dear young men and women,
UJSARIO, the saharaui youth organisation, was among the first organisations to join IUSY, and participates actively in the activities of the latter and in the realisation of its programmes and decisions. The membership of the Frente POLISARIO in the Socialist International is a noble and valiant position taken by the SI, and is also a strong evidence of the consonance between the plans and political options of the Frente POLISARIO and the ideals and objectives of the SI.
We believe strongly, as you all do, that development cannot be achieved without peace and stability and that no stability is possible without the institution of security, justice and democracy, and that no democracy is achievable without freedom and respect for human dignity. We are struggling for realising the same goals defended by IUSY. For we also strive for building a world of peace, freedom, democracy, social justice, equality, respect for human rights and peoples’ rights to self-determination and free expression and international solidarity.
I would like to express our profound appreciation to the IUSY for its principled position regarding the struggle of the Sahrawi people for attaining their legitimate rights to freedom, self-determination and independence.
Your organisation has always and strongly been by the side of the Sahrawi youth. It has worked actively in various international fora to support their struggle for freedom, justice and peace in Western Sahara. The IUSY has sent high-level delegations to the Sahrawi refugee camps, where it singed friendship agreements and engaged in joint solidarity activities with UJSARIO.
You are witnesses, because you have been there, and have seen firsthand the suffering resulting from Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara as well as the determination of the Sahrawi youth to face the hardships of exile and shortage of resources. You have also witnessed the efforts deployed by the Frente POLISARIO and the Government of the Sahrawi Republic for promoting and empowering the youth to play a leading role in the liberation and development of the country.
You are also setting a good example for the Sahrawi youth and people at large, because your steadfast struggle and defence of our just cause and the principle of self-determination and respect for human rights give a boost to our determination to defend our internationally recognised and legitimate rights.
The Sahrawi youth and people do need you. We need IUSY’s solidarity and support. Our struggle is part of your collective struggle against injustice and domination. It is shameful that there are still colonised peoples in the 21st century. Something must be done to address this situation. You are called on to work in Europe and other parts of the world to strengthen the solidarity work with a just cause of an oppressed people. We are confident that you will not let us down, and that you will continue to struggle to eradicate the last vestige of colonialism in Africa.
The youth represent the future. This huge group of young men and women gathered in Zanka, Hungary, for the IUSY Festival 2009, represents a source of great hope, confidence and inspiration for us. We are pound to be with you, and that UJSARIO is an active member of IUSY. You are with us and we are with you. And we all are for development and freedom, and for carrying on our struggle against injustice, domination, poverty, exclusion and all inhuman and degrading practices.
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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