After the Sahrawi student demonstrations and following police attacks at the biggest Moroccan universities in May, the Ministry of Education might have found a way to stop future demonstrations.
According to reports from Sahrawi students in Morocco, all new Sahrawi students who apply for studies around in Morocco, are now requested to apply to the University of Agadir only.
“The Sahrawi students applied for studies at several universities, but the university administrations have now rejected their applications, saying that everyone from the “South” [Western Sahara] has to go to Agadir”, said a Sahrawi student to the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara yesterday.
This means that when the current Sahrawi students at the universities of Marrakech, Fez, Casablanca and Rabat have finished their studies, we might not longer see a presence of Sahrawi students in the most important Moroccan cities.
But the students fear that the process of clearing Moroccan universities of Sahrawi students might be going faster than that.
At the University of Fes, 40 Sahrawi students were reportedly expelled from campus. They got the news on 27th of October this year. They have since been protesting at the university. Since they have nowhere else to sleep, and since the only alternative is to return to Western Sahara, they have since then been sleeping two nights in front of the administration of the campus. The administration, however, has refused to talk to them. The same students lived in the same campus last year. The last update, from October 30th, the police is surrounding the university and campus area. Demonstration photo on right is from demonstration in Fes, taken end of October or beginning of November.
It is not clear yet whether they have also been denied their right to study. The Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara is awaiting further reports from Fez on this.
In Marrakech, a group of Sahrawi bachelor students have just been denied their rights to master studies.
The students are 24 year old Brahim Bariaz, bachelor in law and political sciences, Ablar Alisalem 25 years old, and Abd Alhadi Arfiki. The three are Sahrawis from the city of Gulimin in Southern Morocco. To protest the university’s decision, they October 15th started a sit-in in front of a governmental building in Gulimin.
On 17th of October, a group of other Gulimin students staged a demonstration in solidarity with them, and from the 19th, the three students started a 48 hour hunger strike. The same day, the police attacked them, and beat them in front of the city’s TV station. Two of the students were run over by a police car. One girl made it fine, while one guy, Abd Eljalil Nidbaja, was taken to the hospital.
25 year old Ablar Alisalem was detained for 6 hours in the police station, where he was tortured and forced to sign a declaration. He is set to be judged at a trial on October 25th this year.
Another new development that causes fear among the Marrakech students is the new walls erected around the university area. See photos here.
This story is updated continuously. The illustration photo at the top of this article is from May this year.
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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