CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES
DEPARTMENT OF STATE AND RELATED AGENCY DEPARTMENT OF STATE
MOROCCO. – Prior to the obligation of funds appropriated by this Act under the heading: “Foreign Military Financing Program” for assistance to Morocco, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations on steps being taken by the Government of Morocco to:
(1) Respect the right of individuals to peacefully express their opinions regarding the status and future of the Western Sahara and to document violations of human rights; and
(2) Provide unimpeded access to human rights organizations, journalists and representatives of foreign governments to the Western Sahara.
The US has granted funds for many years to Morocco to support their military, as Morocco is a long-time friend of the US. Before future funds can be given to Morocco’s military by the US government, the Secretary of State will have to give our government a report about how Morocco is doing 2 important things:
(1) The people of Western Sahara must be able to freely express their opinions in a peaceful manner about their destiny as well as how they are treated by Morocco. If you recall, there have been many Saharawi imprisoned, tortured, and killed for speaking out against Morocco’s occupation of their homeland of Western Sahara. This peaked in November, 2010, when a “tent city” demonstration of thousands of Saharawi was violently destroyed by Moroccan troops. These actions will now affect Morocco’s access to funding from the US.
(2) For decades, since Morocco took occupation of Western Sahara, “objective eyes” have been kept out of the Saharawi’s homeland…..organizations like human rights watchers, foreign government representatives, and journalists. This has kept the truth of what has been done to the Saharawi away from the world’s awareness.
We are very happy to see that the US is taking this stand. The Saharawi are thrilled. They have longed for America to use its influence to help end the decades-long oppression of those living in the Homeland. They have longed to be able to have a voice as to the future of their homeland….whether to be an independent nation or to become part of Morocco. This ruling by the US Congress is a wonderful start in changing the stalemate that the Saharawi have been caught in for 37 years.
Thank you to all who have used your voices to speak to our government, and for using your voices to speak to God on the behalf of the Saharawi.
by Janet Lenz
Janet Lenz is the Director of International Partnerships for NFI. She has been involved with the Saharawi since 1999. Janet also knows American Sign Language and is a Certified Interpreter for the Deaf.
NOT FORGOTTEN, 26/1/2012