23 Saharawi prisoners have today, December 1, been on an indefinite hunger strike for one month, bringing awareness to the plight of the Saharawi people of Western Sahara, invaded and occupied illegally by Morocco in 1975, and who have since been denied the right to a vote to determine their future. What does the world community do? Nothing.
Morocco annexed, invaded and repopulated Western Sahara against international law in 1975 and has since refused to hold a referendum on independence or autonomy. Now there are allegations that Morocco is illegally exploiting the resources of the territory it annexed.
The Moroccan Army invaded Western Sahara in 1975 when the Spanish left their North African colony and after the annexation (the Green March), the Moroccan government started repopulating it with Moroccans, diluting the native Saharawi population, trying to create an imbalance by which the Saharawi people would be in the minority in their own country. In 1991 the United Nations Organization brokered a peace treaty between the Moroccans and the Polisario Front, under which Morocco pledged to organise a referendum on self-determination.
Morocco has refused to live up to its promise and has repeatedly blocked and stalled, while it tightens its grip on the country it invaded – against every fibre of international law – and over 165.000 Saharawi refugees are forced to brave the inhospitable Algerian desert where they live in exile.
Under international law, the native population of the Western Sahara, namely the Saharawi population, should give its approval and agreement to the use of its resources by the controlling power and should benefit from these.
Local Saharawi residents have complained about their marginalization in their own country as Moroccan settlers, brought in to create an imbalance in the event of any referendum, benefit from the exploitation of fisheries and phosphates, in which Western Sahara is rich. Local Saharawi residents face an unemployment rate of 45%, while Moroccans pour in to the territory and siphon off its products. Despite all this, the European Union has signed trade agreements with Morocco, giving EU countries access to goods in transactions that do not benefit the Saharawi people.
Today 23 young Saharawis are imprisoned in horrific conditions in Morocco’s notorious Saleh Prison, conditions which violate their human rights.
Again, we are forced to be the clear voice of our brothers and sisters unjustly imprisoned for their involvement in the camp of dignity Gdeim Izik of defending the universal right of any people to be free and independent.
Today marks the 30th day of the hunger strike of Sahrawis in Saleh prison in Rabat, Morocco, claiming their basic rights as citizens Sahrawis. From the platform of support for the Saharawi people we denounce the inhuman situation in which the 23 activists live, activists who have no right to sunlight, suffer from lack of ventilation plus a host of verbal and physical abuse by the occupying forces and prison staff.
These political prisoners hold merely a legitimate claim regulated by various international conventions for the protection of any prisoner. Moroccan security forces violated all international rules by not complying with the law governing prisons 98/23.
Not only political prisoners suffer in deplorable conditions, but also subjected to this inhumanity are their families who have to travel 1300 km from their homes in the occupied territories of Western Sahara to Rabat in Morocco to see them, with a maximum of 15 minutes per visit once a the week.
Since 31 October a group of human rights activists began a hunger strike to denounce the flagrant violation of human rights and their own rights as prisoners of conscience in calling for the holding of a fair trial without humiliating treatment to which they are accustomed.
Given these circumstances and unfortunately accompanied by the international community’s silence, young people from different cities of Spain join together to denounce the situation in Salé prison together with the comrades of the Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf for 48 hours seconding the hunger strike last October 31, 2011 for our brothers imprisoned in Saleh.
FREEDOM for Saharawi political prisoners!
SAHARA ALWAYS FREE!