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  • Madrid, November 17, 2009 -- An award-winning Western Sahara activist went on hunger strike in Spain on Monday to protest Morocco's refusal to allow her to return to the disputed territory, a member of her entourage said. Aminatou Haidar stopped taking food at midnight on Sunday, said the head of the National Union of Western Sahara Women, Zahra Ramdan. Haider was arrested by Moroccan authorities on her arrival in the Western Sahara capital of Laayoune on Friday on a flight from Spain's Canary Islands, and then sent back to Spain. Haidar has filed a complaint against the Moroccan authorities for forced expulsion as well as against Spain, which she said is holding her in the country against her will, Ramdan said. The Spanish foreign ministry said Sunday that Haidar cannot leave Spain "without a passport or other travel document, which she currently does not have, because she has declared that her Moroccan passport has been taken away." It said she re-entered Spain on Saturday using her Spanish residency permit. Haidar in September was awarded the Civil Courage Prize by the Train Foundation in New York for "her campaign on behalf of the self-determination of Western Sahara and against (Moroccan) government abuses and disappearances of prisoners of conscience". The Polisario Front has been fighting for the independence of Western Sahara since it was annexed by Morocco after Spain left in 1975. On 6 November, King Mohammed VI warned of a crackdown against "opponents of the territorial integrity of Morocco," referring to Sahrawis who support the Polisario Front. With Algerian backing, the Polisario Front is holding out for independence.

    Comment



    • ARRECIFE, Spain, November 17, 2009 — A prominent Western Sahara activist on a hunger strike at an airport in Spain's Canary Islands has been cited by a Spanish court for public disorder, a member of her entourage said Tuesday. Aminatou Haidar, a winner of several human rights awards, stopped taking food at midnight on Sunday to protest Morocco's refusal to allow her to return to the disputed territory of Western Sahara. She was arrested by Moroccan authorities on Friday on her arrival in the Western Sahara capital of Laayoune, where she lives, on a flight from Spain's Canary Islands, and then sent back to the archipelago.

      Haidar, who defends the self-determination of Western Sahara, has filed a complaint against Moroccan authorities for forced expulsion as well as against Spain, which she said is holding her in the country against her will. She was cited to appear before a judge on Wednesday at a court in Arrecife, the capital of the Canary Island of Lanzorote, following a complaint from airport management firm AENA for public disorder, a spokesman for the Western Sahara in the Canaries, Hamudi Isemo Mussa, told AFP. Haidar hopes to board the next available flight to Laayoune which is scheduled for Saturday even though she does not have a passport since it was confiscated by Moroccan authorities, he added. The Spanish foreign ministry says she re-entered Spain on Saturday using her Spanish residency permit. She has stayed at the airport in the company of other Western Saharan militants, except at night when the building closes to the public and she camps out at the entrance.

      In September Haidar was awarded the Civil Courage Prize by the Train Foundation in New York for "her campaign on behalf of the self-determination of Western Sahara and against (Moroccan) government abuses and disappearances of prisoners of conscience." The Polisario Front has been fighting for the independence of Western Sahara since it was annexed by Morocco after Spain left in 1975. On November 6, King Mohammed VI warned of a crackdown against "opponents of the territorial integrity of Morocco," referring to Sahrawis who support the Polisario Front. With Algerian backing, the Polisario Front is holding out for independence.

      Comment



      • November 17, 2009 -- The detention and deportation of Western Sahara’s most prominent human rights activist could backfire on Morocco as the action attracts worldwide condemnation. Aminatou Haidar, known has the "Sahrawi Gandhi", was deported from her home to Lanzarote by the Moroccans on Saturday and has been on hunger strike in the airport terminal ever since. Haidar, winner of the 2008 Robert F Kennedy human rights prize and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, had just flown back to Laayoune, the main city in Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara, from a trip abroad. At the airport she refused to declare her nationality as Moroccan on the arrival form and the police detained her, confiscated her passport and expelled her to the Canary Islands.

        The Spanish government have indicated that she will not be allowed to leave Spanish territory until she has some travel papers. However, she has accused Spain of complicity in her deportation pointing out that she should not have been allowed to travel without a passport. “I would rather be imprisoned in Western Sahara than detained in Spain,” Haidar insisted today, the third day of her self-imposed starvation. Indeed, the 42 year-old mother-of-two is no stranger to detention. In 1987, she was "disappeared" and tortured for more than three years for her pro-independence activities and in 2005 she spent seven months in the so-called "black prison" of Laayoune.

        This incident comes at a time of heightened tensions in the so-called occupied territories. Since the start of October, human rights groups within occupied Western Sahara have documented a steep rise in instances of violence, arrest and torture of Saharawi activists, most notably the detention of seven prominent human rights defenders currently awaiting sentence from a military court in Rabat. Their ‘crime’ was to visit the refugee camps in the Algerian desert where around 165,000 Saharawi refugees have lived for three decades and their arrests have been condemned by politicians and human rights organisations around the world including Amnesty International.

        This escalation of repression and the expulsion of Aminatou Haidar follow the appointment of Christopher Ross as the new UN Special Envoy to Western Sahara and recent hopes that, with support from the Obama government, a breakthrough to the diplomatic stalemate might finally be found. Indeed some analysts believe that the crack-down is an attempt by the Moroccan authorities to scupper long awaited UN-sponsored negotiations before they even start.

        Stefan Simanowitz, chair of the global campaigning organisation, the Free Western Sahara Network, argues that such a collapse “might backfire” on Morocco. “By perpetrating violence and repression against the very people they have committed themselves to negotiate with, Morocco could be seen as not playing a straight hand and as a result come under greater international diplomatic and political pressure.

        "Already Moroccan claims of sovereignty are not recognised by a single nation and have been dismissed by the International Court of Justice. Over 100 UN resolutions have been passed calling for a referendum on self-determination for the Saharawi people. With President Obama committed to using negotiations to resolve the conflict in the Western Sahara, it is unlikely that any attempts to derail the talks by arresting human rights defenders and deporting human rights activists such as Ms Haidar, will be looked on kindly.”

        Tuesday, Amensty International released a statement in which it stated that the organisation "deplores the decision of the Moroccan Authorities to expel Haidar" and "urges the authorities to immediately allow her to return to her home in Laayoune"

        Comment



        • Mercredi 18 Novembre 2009 -- La militante sahraouie des droits de l’homme, Aminatou Haidar, a entamé lundi ?* l’aéroport de Lanzarote (archipel espagnol des Canaries) une grève de la faim illimitée pour protester contre son expulsion par le Maroc d’El Ayoun occupé et faire pression sur les autorités espagnoles afin de la ramener auprès de "sa famille et de son peuple "dans les territoires sahraouis occupés. "Elle a entamé une grève de la faim illimitée ?* l’aéroport de Lanzarote pour pouvoir rentrer ?* El Ayoun occupé auprès de sa famille de son peuple. Son état de santé est fragile, mais son moral et sa détermination sont très forts", a déclaré son avocate, Ines Miranda ?* la radio Cadena Ser.

          Comment



          • MADRID, November 20, 2009 — Spain will grant refugee status to a Western Sahara activist on hunger strike in the Canary Islands if Moroccan authorities reject her request for a new passport, the foreign ministry said Friday. Aminatou Haidar, a winner of several human rights awards, launched a hunger strike at midnight on Sunday to protest against Morocco's decision to expel her from her native Western Sahara. "The government is ready, if Ms Haidar asks, to grant her refugee status as soon as possible and provide her with all the necessary documents (so she can travel)," the Spanish foreign ministry said in a statement. The ministry added this step would only be taken if the Moroccan consulate in Spain turns down her request for a new passport. Moroccan authorities arrested Haidar on November 13 on her arrival in the Western Sahara capital of Laayoune from Spain's Canary Islands. Immigration officials immediately sent her back to the archipelago after confiscating her passport. Haidar used her Spanish residency permit to re-enter the country. In October, Haidar received the Civil Courage Prize from the New York-based Train Foundation for her human rights campaigning in the disputed Western Sahara territory. The Polisario Front rebel movement has been fighting for the independence of Western Sahara since it was annexed by Morocco after Spain left in 1975. With Algerian backing, the Polisario Front is holding out for independence.

            Comment



            • Samedi 21 Novembre 2009 -- La Commission européenne est-elle complice dans le drame humain que vivent les Sahraouis depuis plus d'une trentaine d'années ? En tous les cas, Pierre Galan, le président de la Coordination européenne de solidarité avec le peuple sahraoui (EUCOCO) l'a clairement suggéré, hier, ?* l'occasion d'une conférence de presse organisée ?* Barcelone en Espagne. La ville de Barcelone, faut-il le préciser, abrite depuis hier soir, la 35ème Conférence de l'Eucoco qui a pu rassembler cette année d'autres défenseurs de la cause sahraouie, ?* l'image de parlementaires d'Amérique latine et d'organisations de défense des droits de l'Homme venues expressément des Etats-Unis. Ainsi, selon Pierre Galan, un inconditionnel de la cause sahraouie, certains proches de Javier Solana, le Haut-Commissaire ?* la politique étrangère au sein de la Commission européenne, lui ont clairement signifié que l'Europe n'est pas encore disposée ?* bouger le petit doigt pour trouver une issue au conflit arguant que les intérêts des pays du vieux continent ne seraient pas assurés si le Sahara occidental accédait ?* l'indépendance. L'Europe serait, estiment les interlocuteurs de Pierre Galan, plus vulnérable et verra un déferlement d'immigrants clandestins en plus de la multiplication du trafic de drogue, dont la destination finale serait bien évidement les pays du Nord. Le président de l'Eucoco était, hier, outré d'entendre ces «arguments fallacieux», sachant que l'immigration clandestine bat déj?* son plein et le premier producteur de Cannabis au monde est connu du monde entier, d'après des rapports établis par les Nations unies.

              Pour autant et malgré tous les obstacles, l'heure n'est pas ?* la résignation et au fatalisme. Pierre Galan a déclaré que jamais la cause légitime du Sahara occidental n'a été aussi soutenue de par le monde que ces dernières années. Il souligne qu'il y a une sorte de prise de conscience des peuples ?* travers toute la planète sur ce conflit, mais aussi sur toutes les atrocités commises par le Maroc ?* l'encontre des Sahraouis. Le président de l'Eucoco a, par ailleurs, été particulièrement virulent ?* l'endroit de l'Espagne et de la France notamment qui portent, estime-t-il, la responsabilité sur ce qui se passe dans les territoires occupés par le Maroc en matière d'exactions, de tortures et d'emprisonnement des citoyens sahraouis. «En fermant les yeux, l'Europe viole ses propres règles de démocratie et de droits de l'Homme», déplore le conférencier qui rappelle que certains pays, en contradiction avec leurs propres lois, continuent de vendre des armes au Maroc. Pierre Galan a fait savoir qu'il attendait une position courageuse du nouveau Parlement européen au sujet du Sahara occidental dont les richesses sont pillées par le Maroc et certains pays européens.

              Le ministre délégué du Front Polisario en Europe, Mohamed Sidati, a pour sa part déclaré que la 35ème Conférence de l'Eucoco intervient dans des conditions particulières. Près d'une cinquantaine de Sahraouis croupissent dans les geôles marocaines, a-t-il dénoncé, non sans rappeler l'arrestation puis l'expulsion vers une enclave espagnole de la militante sahraouie des droits de l'Homme, Aminatou Haider. Interrogé sur les dernières déclarations de la secrétaire d'Etat américaine aux Affaires étrangères, Hillary Clinton, Mohamed Sidati a fait savoir que la responsabilité des Etats-Unis est au même titre que l'Europe pour ce qui est de l'autodétermination des peuples. L'implication du gouvernement espagnol pour aider ?* résoudre le conflit qui oppose Sahraouis et Marocains doit être un impératif, soutient Sidati qui ajoute que cette conférence, qui rassemblera des centaines de militants de la cause, sera l'occasion de lancer un cri de détresse sur le sort de ses compatriotes qui vivent l'enfer au quotidien depuis la décision prise par le Maroc d'annexer le Sahara occidental en foulant au sol le droit international. La conférence de soutien au peuple sahraoui se poursuivra jusqu'?* dimanche soir. Plusieurs parlementaires algériens des deux Chambres y prennent part. Le président de la RASD, Mohamed Abdelaziz, devrait être présent ?* la clôture des travaux de cette conférence devenue au fil des ans une conférence intercontinentale du fait de la participation de parlementaires et militants des droits de l'Homme de presque tous les continents.

              Comment



              • Dimanche 22 Novembre 2009 -- La cause sahraouie a gagné hier un autre appui de taille, dans son combat pour l'autodétermination et l'indépendance. En effet, la 35eme Conférence européenne de soutien au peuple Sahraoui (EUCOCO), dont les travaux se poursuivront jusqu'?* aujourd'hui dans la capitale catalane Barcelone, a vu la naissance de la Coordination intercontinentale de parlementaires. Cette coordination a été créée ?* l'initiative de parlementaires catalans, d'Amérique latine et d'Afrique, qui ont fait la proposition ?* l'ouverture de l'EUCOCO, dans la soirée de vendredi, avec la participation de centaines de personnes représentant divers pays dont la position officielle n'est pas forcement du côté des Sahraouis et du droit international. La nouvelle coordination est représentée, pour ce qui est du continent africain, par l'Algérie et l'Afrique du Sud, du Mexique, pour ce qui est de l'Amérique du Sud, qui sera épaulé par des élus vénézuéliens et colombiens, et d'un député du Parlement catalan, pour ce qui est du vieux continent. Il faut savoir que l'idée de mettre sur pied une coordination de parlementaires (Députés et sénateurs) pour soutenir le peuple sahraoui dans sa lutte est, ?* l'origine, algérienne. L'idée a été proposée par le président de l'EUCOCO, Pierre Galan, lors de son discours d'ouverture de la conférence de soutien aux Sahraouis, dans la nuit de vendredi, et les parlementaires de divers continents ont vite saisi cet appel en se réunissant le lendemain pour annoncer la naissance de cette instance créée pour sensibiliser et faire pression sur les gouvernements afin de reconnaître la République arabe sahraouie et démocratique (RASD). Pour le moment, c'est le Parlement catalan, qui a dépêché une trentaine de députés ?* la conférence, qui a été choisi pour «parrainer» cette coordination interparlementaire.

                «Paix et liberté pour le peuple sahraoui» tel est le slogan lancé par cette instance qui promet de travailler d'arrache-pied pour défendre les droits des Sahraouis au niveau des parlements respectifs, mais aussi au niveau des instances internationales pour faire valoir les droits des citoyens sahraouis, notamment le droit ?* la liberté et ?* l'indépendance. L'émotion était avant-hier soir ?* son comble lorsqu'un documentaire sur les conditions de vie des Sahraouis dans les territoires occupés a été projeté. Le président brésilien Lula a dépêché personnellement un émissaire de son parti pour soutenir la conférence de l'Eucoco. Le député travailliste brésilien parlant au nom de son parti et de son chef de l'Etat a proposé d'accueillir la première conférence latino-américaine sur le Sahara occidental dans son pays. La proposition d'organisation d'une telle conférence en Amérique latine était l'idée d'un parlementaire vénézuélien dont le pays a clairement affiché depuis longtemps sa position en faveur de l'autodétermination du peuple du Sahara occidental, conformément aux résolutions des Nations unies et de son Conseil de sécurité. À noter que la délégation algérienne ?* la 35 conférence est conduite par le président de la Commission des Affaires étrangères ?* l'APN, M. Si Affif. Par ailleurs, l'Algérie abritera du 12 au 13 décembre prochain une conférence internationale de jumelage des villes sahraouies occupées avec des villes du reste du monde. Des délégations du monde entier se rendront ?* Alger dans le cadre de cette manifestation qui sera l'occasion de soutenir les Sahraouis dans leur lutte pour se libérer du joug marocain.

                Comment



                • BARCELONE, Lundi 23 Novembre 2009 -- Plusieurs centaines de personnes ont manifesté, samedi soir ?* Barcelone (nord-est de l’Espagne), devant le siège de la présidence du gouvernement régional de Catalogne pour soutenir et revendiquer le droit ?* l’autodétermination du peuple sahraoui et pour dénoncer la vague de répression du Maroc contre la population civile sahraouie dans les territoires sahraouis occupés. Cette manifestation a été organisée ?* l’occasion de la tenue dans cette ville de la 35e Conférence de coordination européenne de soutien au peuple sahraoui. Elle a permis ?* plus de 600 participants ?* cette rencontre internationale de soutien ?* la cause sahraoui et ?* son vaste mouvement de solidarité locale de faire entendre leur voix pour revendiquer l’exercice par les sahraouis de leur droit ?* la liberté et l’indépendance.

                  Comment


                  • Yassine Mohellebi :


                    Lundi 23 Novembre 2009 -- La 35e conférence des comités de soutien avec le peuple sahraoui (EUCOCO) a réaffirmé dans sa déclaration finale que «le référendum d’autodétermination est la seule issue au conflit du Sahara occidental». Les 530 délégués venant de 37 pays en appellent ?* l’ONU pour mettre en œuvre «sans délais» l’application des résolutions pertinentes du Conseil de sécurité et de l’Assemblée générale de l’ONU relatives au droit ?* l’autodétermination du peuple sahraoui en lutte pour son indépendance. «Toutes les forces démocratiques de par le monde doivent être mobilisées pour exiger l’arrêt immédiat de la répression féroce dont sont victimes les populations civiles sahraouies, pour que cesse l’exploitation des ressources naturelles et que soient démantelés les 2 700 kilomètres de murs marocains en territoire sahraoui», soulignent les participants qui n’ont pas manqué de rappeler que «le Sahara occidental n’a jamais été un territoire marocain». Un appel ?* la communauté internationale ?* «mettre fin immédiatement ?* l’occupation marocaine du territoire sahraoui» a été lancé. Les participants ont, en outre, salué la résistance sahraouie, surtout la grève de la faim engagée par Aminatou Haider ?* Lanzarote, afin d’exiger le droit au retour dans son pays, le Sahara occidental. Une lettre a d’ailleurs été adressée ?* cette dernière et lue devant les participants par le récipiendaire du prix Nobel de la littérature 2009, José Saramago. L’EUCOCO demande la «libération immédiate des sept défenseurs sahraouis des droits de l’homme détenus ?* Casablanca» de même que celle de tous les autres détenus politiques dans les autres prisons marocaines. C’est la phrase prononcée par le président de la RASD, Mohamed Abdelaziz, devant les participants de la 35e conférence de l’EUCOCO dans un discours tranchant. Une énième réponse aux appétits de Mohammed VI qui vient de criminaliser le fait que des Sahraouis revendiquent leur droit ?* l’autodétermination. Intervenant ?* la clôture des travaux de cette conférence, il s’est félicité de l’engagement et de l’élargissement de l’EUCOCO aux pays d’Afrique et d’Amérique latine, venus ?* Barcelone pour réaffirmer leur soutien ?* la cause sahraouie. Il a aussi tenu ?* saluer le mouvement de solidarité qui ne cesse de se développer et de se diversifier. «Le Sahara ne sera jamais marocain», a-t-il martelé. Par ailleurs, cette 35e conférence a approuvé les conclusions des travaux des onze ateliers qui ont défini le contenu et les propositions de travail pour l’année prochaine. Quelque 350 participants entre représentants d’Etat, parlementaires et acteurs de la société civile ont participé ?* cette conférence. Les travaux de la 35e conférence de l’EUCOCO, élargie aux pays africains, asiatiques et sud-américains, a adopté nombre de résolutions qui vont dans l’optique de faire pression sur la communauté internationale, surtout l’UE, afin de respecter le droit des Sahraouis ?* l’autodétermination. Le rendez-vous est pris au Mans (France) pour la 36e édition de l’EUCOCO. D’ici l?*, le combat continue pour les Sahraouis.

                    Comment



                    • November 23, 2009 -- UN Western Sahara Envoy Christopher Ross has begun planning a second unofficial meeting between Morocco and Polisario representatives, APS quoted the Sahrawi News Agency (SPS) as reporting on Sunday (November 22nd). United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reportedly called on Morocco and the Polisario to "pursue dialogue and contacts with the UN High Commission for Refugees in order to guarantee the respect of human rights to the Sahrawi people".

                      Comment



                      • MADRID, November 24, 2009 -- Western Sahara activist Aminatou Haidar has declined an offer by Madrid to grant her refugee status following her expulsion from the territory by Morocco, a representative said Saturday. Jose Morales Brum, a trade union leader in Spain's Canary Islands, said that Haidar, a winner of several human rights awards, was continuing the hunger strike she began at midnight on Sunday. Haidar is at the airport on the island of Lanzarote demanding to be sent back to the Western Sahara capital of Laayoune to recover her passport confiscated by Moroccan authorities last week.

                        "The government is ready, if Ms Haidar asks, to grant her refugee status as soon as possible and provide her with all the necessary documents (so she can travel)," the Spanish foreign ministry said in a statement Friday. The ministry said it would act if the Moroccan consulate in Spain turns down her request for a new passport. But Haidar refuses to apply to the consulate, saying she wants her old passport back.

                        Morocco's ambassador to Spain, Omar Azziman, said she could receive her passport back if she recognized her Moroccan nationality. "Perhaps if Aminatou Haidar recognized her Moroccan nationality, her passport would be returned. At the moment it is impossible," he told reporters. "It is not Spain or Morocco that has a problem, it is she, and the solution therefore is in her hands."

                        Moroccan authorities arrested Haidar on November 13 on her arrival in Laayoune from Spain's Canary Islands. Immigration officials immediately sent her back to the archipelago after confiscating her passport. She used her Spanish residency permit to re-enter the country. Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said that in the face of Haidar's refusal there was nothing more he could do, adding that he had already expressed his concern about her case Thursday in a meeting with his Moroccan counterpart Taieb Fassi Fihri.

                        In October, Haidar received the Civil Courage Prize from the New York-based Train Foundation for her human rights campaigning in the disputed Western Sahara territory. Morocco annexed phosphate-rich Western Sahara after Spain left in 1975 and has pledged to grant it widespread autonomy but rules out independence demanded by the Polisario Front rebel movement which has the backing of Algeria.

                        Azziman said Haidar had been an activist who never had any problems but had recently "drifted towards the separatist thesis of the Polisario". Earlier this month Morocco's King Mohammed VI warned of a crackdown against "opponents of the territorial integrity of Morocco," referring to Sahrawis who support the Polisario Front. While fighting halted in 1991, UN-sponsored talks on Western Sahara's future have made no headway.

                        Comment



                        • UNITED NATIONS, November 24, 2009 -- Renewed tension between Morocco and the Polisario Front independence movement over Western Sahara has the UN chief worried, the United Nations said Monday in a statement. "Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is concerned by the growing tension between the parties to the Western Sahara negotiations, which has increased following the recent detention of several groups of Saharawi activists and the situation of Aminatou Haidar," the UN statement said.

                          In October, Morocco arrested seven Saharawis who visited a Polisario-controlled refugee camp near Tindouf, in south-west Algeria. Western Sahara activist Aminatou Haidar began a hunger strike Sunday at a Spanish airport where she had to return after her Moroccan passport was confiscated November 13 when she arrived at Western Sahara capital of Laayoune. A winner of several human rights awards for her human rights campaigning in the disputed Western Sahara territory, Haidar has turned down Spain's offer to grant her refugee status.

                          Morocco annexed phosphate-rich Western Sahara after Spain left in 1975 and has pledged to grant it widespread autonomy, but has ruled out independence as an option demanded by the Polisario Front. While fighting halted in 1991, UN-sponsored talks on Western Sahara's future held in the New York suburb of Manhasset have so far made no headway. Ban, the UN statement said, "has urged both parties to continue to cooperate with his Personal Envoy, Mr. Christopher Ross, in seeking to schedule another set of talks and to work together to achieve progress toward a mutually agreed political solution."

                          Comment



                          • MADRID, Mercredi 25 Novembre 2009 -- Le Prix Nobel de littérature, le Portugais José Saramago, a demandé au Maroc de renoncer ?* sa "voracité expansionniste" et de respecter les résolutions de l’ONU concernant l’autodétermination du peuple sahraoui. Dans une lettre adressée ?* la militante sahraouie des droits de l’homme, Aminatou Haidar, en grève de la faim ?* l’aéroport de Lanzarote depuis son expulsion par le Maroc de la ville occupée d’El Ayoun, Saramago a souligné que le "mépris" ?* l’égard des Sahraouis est "la démonstration que la Charte des droits de l’homme n’existe pas au sein de la société marocaine et prouve que le Maroc ne se respecte pas lui-même, car celui qui est sûr de son passé n’a pas besoin d’exproprier le voisin pour exprimer une grandeur que personne ne reconnaîtra jamais".

                            Comment



                            • Dimanche 29 Novembre 2009 -- La santé de la militante sahraouie des droits de l’homme Aminatou Haider, qui observe depuis 12 jours une grève de la faim pour réclamer son retour au Sahara occidental, s’est détériorée, a-t-on appris vendredi dans son entourage. «Au 12e jour de grève de la faim, Aminatou Haider connaît une détérioration de son état de santé» en conséquence de plusieurs maladies chroniques dont «un ulcère ?* l’estomac», a indiqué José Morales Brum, leader syndical canarien et porte-parole de la militante. Mme Haider a arrêté jeudi dernier son traitement contre l’ulcère, a précisé M. Morales Brum, joint par téléphone. Il a prié le gouvernement socialiste espagnol «d’accroître la pression» sur les autorités marocaines pour qu’elles acceptent le retour de Mme Haider ?* Laâyoune, principale ville du Sahara occidental. Mme Haider a reçu plusieurs soutiens de personnalités, notamment le prix Nobel de la paix 1996, le président du Timor oriental José Manuel Ramos-Horta qui l’a appelée vendredi matin et l’acteur espagnol Javier Bardem. Les Etats-Unis sont «inquiets pour la santé et le bien-être» de la militante, lauréate du prix Robert F. Kennedy pour les droits de l’homme 2008 et du prix 2009 du courage civil de la fondation Train», a indiqué jeudi la diplomatie américaine dans un communiqué. Mme Haider devait recevoir vendredi des représentants du Centre Robert F. Kennedy pour la justice et les droits de l’homme ?* l’aéroport de Lanzarote où elle mène sa grève de la faim. Mme Haider, qui a rejeté une offre du gouvernement espagnol de lui concéder le statut de réfugiée politique, est, depuis le 16 novembre, en grève de la faim ?* l’aéroport de l’île de Lanzarote (Canaries) après avoir été expulsée le 14 novembre du Sahara occidental par les autorités marocaines. Madrid «fait tout son possible» pour qu’elle puisse «le plus rapidement possible voyager en toute liberté et retrouver sa famille», a souligné vendredi la numéro deux du gouvernement espagnol, Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega.

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                              • MADRID, December 2, 2009 (IPS) - The firm stance taken by Western Sahara independence activist Aminatou Haidar, in her third week of a hunger strike in an airport in Spain's Canary Islands, contrasts with the weak position of the Spanish government vis-?*-vis the Moroccan government, which it has failed to pressure to allow the activist to return to her homeland. Haidar, who is president of the Collective of Sahrawi Human Rights Defenders (CODESA), is reportedly so weak she can hardly stand or speak.

                                The Moroccan authorities confiscated the passport and identity card of Haidar, who is known as the "Sahrawi Gandhi", and expelled her to Spain on November 14 as she was returning to Western Sahara via this European country after a trip to receive a human rights award in the United States. Mohamed Jadad, the delegate in Spain of the Polisario Front - the Sahrawi independence movement based in Algeria - told IPS that the government of socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodr?*guez Zapatero should press Morocco "to allow Aminatou to return to her home in El-Ayoun, to her family and her children."

                                El-Ayoun is the capital of Western Sahara, which Morocco annexed after Spain pulled out in 1975. Although fighting came to a halt in 1991 in the phosphate-rich disputed desert territory on the northwest coast of Africa bordered by Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania, the Polisario Front continues to demand independence, but Morocco has only offered "autonomy." Jadad said the Spanish government does not dare risk annoying the Moroccan government, and "is turning a blind eye to human rights violations and to that country's rejection of the United Nations 1991 and 2003 plans."

                                The 42-year-old Haidar, one of the leading activists for self-determination for Western Sahara, and the winner of the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy human rights prize in 2008, has been forcibly disappeared, held and tortured in Moroccan prisons in the past. On November 14, on her way back from receiving the Civil Courage Prize from the Train Foundation in New York on October 21, the police took her aside for 12 hours of questioning at the El-Ayoun airport. On her entry form, Haidar had left the citizenship line blank and listed her place of residence as "Western Sahara" rather than "Morocco" - which she says she has frequently done in the past without any problems.

                                But this time Moroccan authorities said she had thus waived her Moroccan citizenship, and they confiscated her passport and put her on a plane, against her will and without papers, back to Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Morocco. Since November 16 she has been on a hunger strike in the Lanzarote airport, demanding to be given back her passport and allowed to return to El-Ayoun.

                                The Spanish Foreign Ministry initially said Haidar could not leave the country because she did not have a passport. But Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos then offered her refugee status, which she turned down because it would not allow her to return home. And on November 28, the minister personally telephoned to offer her Spanish nationality and a passport, as an "exceptional measure." However, she also rejected that proposal. On Tuesday, the minister said he was in contact with Moroccan authorities, and that he had suggested that they send Haidar a passport, "either her old one or a new one." But a senior Moroccan official said Haidar must "apologise" before her passport is returned. A Spanish Foreign Ministry official announced Tuesday that the Spanish government had asked United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to help work things out.

                                Haidar, meanwhile, has received an outpouring of international support. British MPs from the three main political parties tabled a motion stating that "this House condemns the escalating wave of human rights violations against Saharawi human rights activists…(and) is dismayed over the expulsion of prominent Saharawi human rights activist and winner of the 2009 Civil Courage Award Aminatou Haidar from Western Sahara." In a November 17 statement, Amnesty International said it "deplores the decision of the Moroccan authorities to expel human rights defender Aminatou Haidar from Western Sahara on 14 November, and urges the authorities to immediately allow her to return to her home in Laayoune (El-Ayoun). Amnesty International is concerned that she is being targeted because of her human rights work and her public stance in support of self-determination for the people of Western Sahara."

                                Human Rights Watch Middle East and North Africa director Sarah Leah Whitson said "Morocco cannot summarily denaturalise and deport its own citizens because of the way they fill out entry forms at the airport. They must let Haidar return home and stop harassing her for peaceful advocacy of Sahrawi self-determination." The U.S. State Department said in a communiqué that "The United States remains concerned about the health and well-being of Saharawi activist Aminatou Haidar…We urge a speedy determination of her legal status and full respect for due process and human rights."

                                Her supporters around the world include 87-year-old Portuguese Nobel Literature Laureate Jose Saramago - who visited her at the airport; East Timor President José Manuel Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Peace Prize-winner; Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar; Spanish Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem; Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano; British filmmaker Ken Loach; and British actor and former Monty Python, Terry Jones. Among the friends and supporters accompanying her at the airport are activists from the Washington-based Robert F. Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights.

                                But Gustavo de Ar?*stegui, the foreign policy spokesman for Spain's centre-right Popular Party, the main opposition force, said the only thing that Haidar, "with her stubborn position…is doing is messing up, muddying and complicating the negotiations" on Western Sahara. He also criticised Spanish artists and personalities who have expressed their support for the activist, saying they should mobilise for other causes, rather than this one, which he said "just makes them look more progressive and gives them greater visibility."

                                The talks on Western Sahara are at a standstill over incompliance with agreements reached by the U.N. in 1991 and 2003. In 1991, then U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed former U.S. secretary of state James Baker as his special U.N. envoy to Western Sahara, and the U.N. Security Council established the U.N. Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), which was to oversee the ceasefire that went into force that year, and to organise a referendum in which Sahrawis would choose between integration with Morocco and independence. In 2003, the U.N. passed resolution 1495, known as the Baker Plan II, which proposed autonomy for a five-year period, followed by a referendum including the option of independence.

                                Leire Paj?*n, the secretary of the governing socialist party (PSOE), underlined that Haidar is in Spain against her will, and that all she wants is to return home to her mother and children. Paj?*n urged Morocco to immediately help resolve the situation, because Haidar's deportation "violates the U.N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that Morocco has also signed." Mar?*a José Fernández of the Asturian Association of Friends of the Sahrawi People flew to Lanzarote last week to accompany Haidar, who she said was extremely weak and occasionally fainting, and needs help just to get up and go to the bathroom. But she added that despite the Sahrawi activist's physical weakness as a result of the hunger strike, her spirit is strong and she is clear-headed, reading the newspapers and receiving everyone who visits her. The activist told Fernández that "she doesn't want to talk to Moratinos on the phone anymore; if the minister wants to talk to her, he can come here."

                                The coordinator of the United Left opposition coalition, Cayo Lara, criticised the stance taken by the government and told it to stop being an "accomplice" in Morocco's "illegal" actions against the activist, who he said should be allowed to go home immediately. In statements to Spain's leading newspaper, El Pa?*s, Haidar said that "from the very start, I saw there was complicity between the Spanish and Moroccan governments, and that my being sent back to Spain was a political matter. "The Spanish government must rectify this flagrant violation of human rights, of Spanish law, and of international treaties," she added. In a communiqué, she said it is her convictions and conscience that tell her what she has to do, not those who support or oppose her, "neither the Polisario Front, nor Morocco, the United States, Moratinos or anyone else."

                                PSOE's secretary of social movements and relations with NGOs, Pedro Zerolo, and senior Foreign Ministry official Agust?*n Santos talked to Haidar at the airport Tuesday. But the only conclusion they reached, Santos said at the end of the meeting, was that the contacts with Morocco must continue. An odd footnote to the whole incident, perhaps indicative of the official treatment Haidar has received, is that Judge Ángela López fined the activist 180 euros (370 dollars) for creating "public disorder."

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