Göttingen / Berlin, 22. Januar 2007
First visit to Germany of a human rights worker from the West Sahara controlled by Morocco - Morocco’s repression in the West Sahara is increasing: almost 700 arrested in the year 2006
The Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV) reported on Monday on a considerable increase in the violations of human rights in the areas of the West Sahara controlled by Morocco. The human rights organisation showed in a report the arrest of 685 Saharauis in 2006, who had protested peacefully against the occupation, which went against international law. Sippenhaft (i.e. the arrest of relatives), torture and the arrest of persons under age have been taking place regularly, states the GfbV in a 23-page report. In May 2005 a national uprising had started in the West Sahara against Morocco’s rule.
Three quarters of those arrested were set free within 48 hours, reports the human rights organisation. Before being released most of them were tortured and massively threatened. The detainees were often driven into the desert, beaten and thrown into ditches beside the road. "Morocco’s brutal actions against the civilian population in the West Sahara are aimed at intimidating the people and wiping out from the start any criticism of Morocco’s arbitrary rule”, said the GfbV Africa correspondent, Ulrich Delius.
"Anyone resisting peacefully against the Moroccan occupation policies is arbitrarily arrested”, said the Sahara human rights worker, Ali Salem Tamek, on a visit to Germany. "The conditions under which people are kept in the prisons in the West Sahara and in Morocco are inhuman and unacceptable.” Tamek spent 14 years of his life in Moroccan prisons. The last time he was arrested in July 2005 on his return from talks with politicians in Western Europe. Tamek was only released in April 2006.
Last week a human rights worker from the areas in the West Sahara occupied by Morocco visited Germany together with Ali Salem Tamek. In talks with the spokespersons of all the parties represented in the Bundestag working in committees for foreign affairs, development policies and humanitarian aid Tamek asked for support for the hard-pressed civilian population in the West Sahara. The mandate of the UN peace-keeping force (MINURSO) must be widened for the protection of human rights. Any political solution for the West Sahara must be based on the right of peoples to self-determination and be backed by a free vote by the people. The parliamentary representatives assured the guest from the West Sahara that they would speak up for the more effective protection of human rights in the West Sahara and better living conditions in the Moroccan prisons.
P.S. We shall be glad to send on request the 23-page report.