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ZNet article:
What's new in Western Sahara?

Human Rights in Western Sahara today
Les Droits de l'Homme au Sahara Occidental

   "The Illusion of Human Rights"




What's new in Western Sahara ?

 

How start the year 2009 in the still conflicted land of the Western Sahara ?

34 years after the beginning of the occupation of this country by Morocco, the situation isn't getting better. Just forget for a while the question of self determination, of the referendum and the right of independence, and lets focus on the question of the Human Rights today in Western Sahara, in the so called "Occupied territories of Western Sahara".

 

The king Mohamed VI is today proud to say that the time of terror is over and that Morocco is now a peaceful land, faraway from the image that still got the reign of his father. But if we look a little bit further, or if we just ask what is occurring now in Morocco and in Western Sahara, we can just see that Human Rights are still an illusion.

 

In December 2008, Human Rights Watch published his report called "Human Rights in Western Sahara and in the Tindouf Refugee Camps". There, the organisation observes that Human Rights are ignored in many cases. Militants for independence are not allowed to meet, manifest or protest. Apprehension is frequent. Houses destroyed by police. Inhabitants beaten. Intimidation is daily against everyone who shows his sahrawi's identity.

To resume, Sarah Leah Whitson from Human Rights Watch tell in the report that Moroccan authorities are asking to be judged with regard to their future engagement, and not in front of their past or present results. In her opinion, a long way is still necessary for Morocco.

 

In march 2009, Dahha Rahmouni came from the occupied territories to testify face to UN to the situation in Western Sahara. He is himself one of the "ex-disappeared" who came back alive from the secret prison of Morocco. But today, the situation has changed. If the Sahrawis don't disappear anymore, police and repression are still very violent. "If police arrest you, they take you to the police-station or to the desert, they beat you, take your clothes and leave you there."

 

The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) observes also some terrible examples. In the article called "Arbitrary arrest, intimidation and rape of a female Sahraouian youth by Moroccan policemen", the organisation state the aggression against Hayat, 19 years old, beaten and raped by the policemen in El Ayoun in February 2009.

 

Of course, no newspaper had reported this story in the Kingdom. It is right that the new Code for the Press in Morocco said clearly that the territorial integrity of the country is sacred and that everyone who would speak about "another version" is subject to be imprisoned.

 

Is the Kingdom of Morocco really protect his citizens? Citizens from Morocco and citizens from Western Sahara? Today, like it was in the past, it seems that Moroccan justice prefers to protect the old "territorial integrity" from rape than a 19 years old women.

 

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