Leading human rights activists from Western Sahara were last week subjected to serious violations of their rights by Moroccan authorities. 18 Norwegian organisations, including all 8 political youth parties, ask the Norwegian Minister for Foreign Affairs to protest.
Photo above (taken by Maria Fonfara) of Ahmed Nasiri fra Smara, one of the arrested.
Press release 15 October 2009.
Last week, a number of human rights activists from occupied Western Sahara were subjected to severe violations of their freedom of movement.
Former Rafto Award laureate Sidi Mohammed Daddach was one of the 5 who were detained by Moroccan police as a group of Sahrawis on 6 October tried to travel to the refugee camps in Algeria. The student activist Sultana Khaya, who in 2007 was beaten blind on one eye during police violence, was 9 October refused exit from Western Sahara, while her papers and passport were confiscated.
7 leading human rights activists were on 8 October detained at Casablanca airport after having visited their countrymen in the refugee camps in Algeria. They are now being charged with treason.
Most of the 13 activists have during the last year had meetings with Norwegian organisations visiting the region.
"It is unacceptable that Sahrawi human rights activists are not allowed to travel abroad to talk about the violations in the territory, or to visit their countrymen in the refugee camps," wrote the leaders of the organisations in a joint letter to the Norwegian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jonas Gahr Støre.
"We expect the [Norwegian] government to demand that the detained Sahrawi human rights activists be immediately released, and to demand from the Moroccan authorities that passports and other confiscated property be immediately returned to the Sahrawis who have tried to leave Western Sahara," wrote the organisations.
The letter was signed by all 8 Norwegian political youth organisations (Norwegian Labour Youth, Young Liberals of Norway, Red Youth Norway, Norwegian Center Youth, Progress Party Youth, Norwegian Young Conservatives, Socialist Youth, Christian Democrat Youth), as well as by the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara, The Rafto Foundation, Norwegian Refugee Council, Norwegian Students' and Academics' International Assistance Fund, Human Rights House Foundation, The National Union of Students in Norway, Counteract TV, Trade Union for Industry and Energy, Changemaker, Norwegian Language Youth.
See the letter to the Norwegian government here (in Norwegian).
Ronny Hansen Chairman, Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara. Tel (+47) 94250270
Sigrun Espe President, Norwegian Students' and Academics' International Assistance Fund Tel (+47) 99044666
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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