Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Western Sahara: The Forgotten Injustice

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 25th October, 2010

A delegation of British MPs and Peers, including Mark Williams (LibDem), Jonathan Evans (Conservative) and Jeremy Corbyn (Labour), went in a delegation to see Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt MP today, to protest yesterday’s fatal shooting of a 14-year-old Saharawi boy, Nayem el-Garhi, by Morrocan security forces. The boy was attempting, along with his brother and a number of others, to enter a protest camp which has been set up outside El Aauin (Laayoune) by 10,000 Saharawis who wish to draw attention to the ongoing occupation of the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara that has endured since 1975. When Namibia became independent, many British media incorrectly reported that the decolonisation process in Africa was complete, but that was not true. Though Saharawi forces (the Polisario) managed to defeat Mauritanian troops who had occupied the southern part of the territory after the Spanish withdrew and succeeded in getting their withdrawal, the Moroccans are still there and have been settling many tens of thousands of Moroccans in the territory. An enormously long earth wall separates the occupied part of Western Sahara from the desert fiefdom of the Polisario, many of whose supporters live in refugee camps just inside Algeria, as they have done for decades now. In 1991 (just one year after I visited the Polisario-controlled areas), the UN brokered a ceasefire between Morocco and the Polisario, which was meant to lead to a referendum in which the Saharawis could choose their destiny, but this has not happened. Bizarrely, MINURSO, the UN peacekeeping mission to the Western Sahara, has no mandate to monitor the human rights situation there, unlike other such missions elsewhere in the world. The current protest camp — which Moroccan forces have effectively blockaded — was set up a fortnight ago to highlight the situation at a time when a UN special envoy, Christopher Ross, is visiting the region. As Mark Williams comments, ‘We cannot continue to ignore the brutality of the Moroccan authorities against those who peacefully demonstrate for their rights to independence. The first step is for the Security Council to implement human rights monitoring in Western Sahara.’



One Response to “Western Sahara: The Forgotten Injustice”

  1. Aymane said


    I just want to make a point about this article. The demonstration in the south of morocco was about providing jobs and other social things and not for independence. What happened is that there was a meeting in Tindouf (Algeria) where separatists planned to organise the comp in Laayoune to ask for legitimate demands to be provided from Morocco. the plan is that when the comp is set, a group of paople who were instructed in Tindouf got into the camp and forbidded people from leaving it. The agenda was to attack the authorities and this is what happened. more than 10 people were killed among the authorities.
    As an outsider, I see that Morocco was the only one hich claimed the southern territories from Spain and gained independence in 1975. It was until 1976 that Polisario came into existence.


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