This week four Saharawis were detained by the police - all four have been active in journalism and social media through Saharawi Independent Media Group (OSMI). The leader of the organisation, Sidi Sbai, who are among the detained, is said to have recently been contributing to a news report for a leading international TV station.
The other Saharawis detained are Bachir Bomod, Mohamed Jamour and Elhafed Toubali. The reason for their detention still remains unclair, but according to other Saharawi organisations, it is connected to their work documenting Saharawi demonstrations and the brutal crackdown by the Morrocan police. Also the massive exploitation of Western Saharas natural resources by the Morrocan gouvernment have been documented.
The four were apparently taken by the police in connetion to the celebrations of the release of Mohamad Amzouz, a prisoner of conscience.
In December 2013, Norwegian Nina Bakke and Vermund Heggland visited the occupied territories of Western Sahara. During their visit they met, among others, Sidi Sbai and Elhafed Toubali, who are now imprisoned in Tiznit, Southern Marrocco.
Nina Bakke strongly condemns the detention of these two.
«Sbai and Toubali have been doing an incredible job documenting the situation concerning human rights in Western Sahara, and it was very clear that Morrocan police watched their every move», Bakke said.
During her visit in Western Sahara, Ms. Bakke told Morrocan police followed her and her travel companions, especially when meeting up with Sbai and Toubali.
«Police showed up at the hotel where we were staying several times, and we could not walk out on the street without beeing followed and watched by the police. It was very obvious that they did not want us there. As a Norwegian it was very unpleasant, but our Saharawi friends told us that to them, this was every day life.
The first court hearing is due tomorrow, February 17th 2014.
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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