A Comprehensive Report on the Recent Human Rights Situation in Western Sahara.

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By: Saharawi Association in the USA (SAUSA).

Occupied Western Sahara has been living in a nightmare of human rights violation since the start of the occupation in 1975. Despite all cries and calls for justice and international law application, the situation remains the same, and Morocco still violates the people’s of Western Sahara rights.

Unfortunately, such events, violations, and tension have escalated since the resumption of war in Western Sahara. These events coincided with the rapid and disturbing developments in the Guerguerat region, which led to the breaking of the ceasefire and the UN peace settlement plan’s collapse on November 13, 2020. It seems that Morocco is aiming to retaliate against Saharawi civilians who are pro-Western Sahara self-determination and independence.

For the past 90 days, the Sahrawi activist, Sultana Khayya, with some of her family members, has been living under house arrest in the city of Boujdour in Western Sahara. The Moroccan security forces have illegally imposed this house arrest. During the past three months, this Sahrawi activist was subjected to all kinds of torture and brutal repression to prevent her from leaving her home. She almost lost her life in a brutal attack against her and her family’s house a few days ago. Sultana and her sister are in critical condition and require urgent care and hospitalization – see videos:https://www.youtube.com/embed/dPpotsmvM80?feature=oembed&wmode=opaque

– and herehttps://www.youtube.com/embed/dcXAbIzvzoY?feature=oembed&wmode=opaque

She was stoned several times at the head level while her sister’s teeth fell out due to beating, and then the torture exercised on all parts of the body. Besides, it is worth mentioning that Sultana had previously lost her eye during an intervention against Saharawi students in Marrakech by the Moroccan security forces in 2007.

Western Sahara has been under security siege in conjunction with the military blockade on the territory. Sadly enough, we have been witnessing the weakness and the inefficiency of the United Nations, the European Union and the African Union which are all depicted as being unable of carrying out their role in exerting pressure on Morocco to stop these violations and enabling the people of Western Sahara of enjoying the right to self-determination.

Most Saharawi activists in occupied Western Sahara are living in a state of siege imposed on their homes while some of them are under strict surveillance. In the last 72 hours, some others have been arrested under trumped-up charges and are awaiting trial. The following Saharawis are victims of this malpractice:

Muhammad Bemba Al-Daf

Ghali Bouhalla

Mohamed Nafie Boutasoufra

Zakaria Rguibi

Akram El-Hanafi

Malanine Elwali.

Today marks the 35th of the hunger strike for the political prisoner: Mohamed Lamine Haddi. He is one of the Saharawi political prisoners and is a member of the Gdeim Izik group. His situation is very dire, and he is still demanding his immediate release alongside his other colleagues illegally convicted and imprisoned.

Since the breaking of the ceasefire between the Polisario Front and Morocco on November 13, 2020, clashes between the Moroccan security forces and the Saharawi civilian peaceful protesters broke out in the city of El-Aaiun and in other Western Sahara cities, where peaceful demonstrations were planned or organized.

 The deployment of heavy security forces and groups of Moroccan auxiliary forces in abundance occurs in most Saharawi populated neighborhoods I the city of El-Aaiun and in other cities in occupied Western Sahara. Any observer would quickly conclude that this is an imposition of an undeclared state of emergency in the whole territory of Western Sahara. Entire neighborhoods and streets are surrounded by police cars and auxiliary forces 24/7. Meanwhile, groups of uniformed alongside plain-cloth police officers and the Auxiliary Forces were deployed in every neighborhood and street, namely in El-Aaiun where Smara Boulevard and Mohamed Abdelaziz streets, among other streets, are under strict, undeclared curfew and surveillance. Such places are MaataAllah, Colomina, and Raha neighborhood watched and monitored by surveillance cameras. While in Boujdour city, the house of activists Sultana Khaya and her family has been constantly attacked and brutalized.Saharawi activist residing in Boujdour: Hasanna Duihi was banned from exiting Boujdour few times in destination to El-Aaiun where his family lives. He has been exiled to Boujdour few years ago under the subterfuge of work transfer. He remains under strict surveillance up to now. In Smara city, things are not that different where most activists are being watched and monitored as the local authorities fear mass demonstrations and keep a tight grip on all known activists, including the house and the movements of Saharawi activists Hammadi Nassiri. 

Last week, February 12, 2021, in Dakhla city, Moroccan Gendarmerie and local authorities led an attack on Saharawi bedouins outside the city of Dakhla. They dismantled a local Bedouin camp 43 kilometers away from the city in the middle of the desert. Dwellers of the camps of the Swayhla were told to leave the grounds and to go back to the city while their tents and belongings were destroyed and ruined. The victims are: -The family of Ahmed Zain, the family of Bakkar, the family of Kawri, the family of Sheikh Bouseif, the family of Bombari, the family of Hassan Zekrawi, the family of Bouamoud, the family of Aloumairi,… etc.

The freedom of movement seems to be a concern for Moroccan authorities restricting all Saharawi activists’ activities. Yesterday, the police checkpoint at the SouthWestern exit of EL-Aaiun detained Saharawi activist Hmad Hammad from leaving town. He was interrogated for an hour and then later released when the police made sure he was not traveling to Boujdour city to join Sultana Khayya in solidarity. It seems that the Moroccan regime is taking advantage of the Covid-19 restriction of movement and gathering. Anyone can be arrested and fined 0ver this, especially if there is a planned demonstration by the Saharawis. Other non-political entities in Western Sahara were also prevented from protesting for their legal rights; the case of the Saharawi unemployed groups in the city of Smara who recently took it to the street and called for equal opportunities, for the right to access to jobs and for the right to benefit from their natural resources. Other groups of Saharawi civilians in Boujdour have been prevented from peacefully protesting the siege and the attack on Sultana Khayya in the last few days.

These protesters were confronted with severe repression by the agents of the local Moroccan local authorities which used excessive brutal force and severe violence against them. Many protesters were injured while some others were brutally attacked and intimidated.

This situation resulted in gross violations of human rights practiced by the public forces’ various factions against Saharawi citizens, whether they were protesters, demonstrators, or citizens who happened to be at places of protests and confrontations. In this context, the office of the association’s branch registered:

-The law enforcement agencies’ forces (police, auxiliary forces, men, and agents of the authority) resort to besieging neighborhoods and streets in the cities, thus preventing movement by deploying checkpoints and patrols.

Usually, when there is a demonstration, the local forces resort to excessive and severe violence in confronting the protesting citizens and the peaceful demonstrators with extreme repression and targeting them with batons and sticks on various parts of the body intense and excessive violence. Women and children are not spared this miserable and brutal aggression.

The Moroccan police sometimes raided Saharawi families and thus damaged their property. Such actions are done without any warrant or legal basis; Raiding the house of Sultana Khaya in Boujdour and that of Hasanna in El-Aaiun are clear examples. This raiding also resulted in kidnapping, such as in the case of Ghali Bouhalla in El-Aaiun a few days ago. On another occasion, on December 23, 2020, the raiding would result in serious injuries, such as in the case of Mina Baali, wife of Hasanna Duihi, who was left after raiding with a broken hand and arm ( See video: https://youtu.be/kPmcJEddHEI ). Police often use Batons and stones when attacking Saharawi activists.

Some other activists were intimidated and threatened, as it is the case of Hassanna Duihi who, yesterday, tried to check on Sultana Khayya and was brutally intimidated and threatened by the police if he tried to approach her house and show solidarity with her 

See video: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1645559975646958&id=100005789143551).

Many Saharawi activists were put under house arrest in the last few months, especially those who are members of the newly established Saharawi association: ISACOM, namely: Ghali Djimi and her husband Dafa, Mina Baali and Aminatou Haidar

All this happens while Western Sahara has been undergoing security, military, and economic blockade for decades, but these days things are getting worse, and the situation is unbearable. No observer is allowed in, and no press has access. Morocco is enforcing a total media blockade on Western Sahara to hide all atrocities it is committing against the people of Western Sahara.

 Police brutality and aggressiveness go unpunished and unquestioned by any Moroccan institution even though all violations are documented, and most perpetrators are known. Yet, they still roam the street without any fear of punishment or protection.

 Moroccan officials responsible for such hideous acts still enjoy impunity for their human rights violators. Justice is absent and only serves the Moroccan occupation agenda. The judicial system does not treat Saharawi complaints, and the police would often disregard these complaints. Instead, the Moroccan regime rewards these perpetrators, and they are often promoted or transferred to a better position in a better place and city.

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