On 19th March, representatives of several organisations working on human rights issues in Western Sahara met at the School of Oriental and African Studies to talk about recent events in the country and discuss ways in which they could focus their activities on current pressing matters there.
Organisations represented included Adala UK, the Western Sahara Campaign, Amnesty International, Sandblast Arts and Students for Western Sahara. Discussions focused on updates on the situation in Western Sahara following the recent sentencing of the 24 Saharawi prisoners, with information from the Polisario representatives about the reactions on the ground and the worsening situation. Adala UK also told the group about accounts from human rights activists in Western Sahara who have seen many recriminations from the Moroccan authorities following the conclusion of the court cases. One of the outcomes of the discussions was that members of the group agreed to send letters to the prisoners through a Spanish campaign of support.
There were comprehensive updates on the Western Sahara Resource Watch and the Western Sahara Campaign Human Rights Project, including news from two representatives’ discussions in Brussels that week. Everyone was urged to do everything they could to get more people to write to their MPs to get them to support the Early Day Motion 1113, tabled by Jeremy Corbyn on 26th February. There were discussions about how the Trade Union movement in the UK may be able to support the Western Saharan cause and several of those present agreed to look into that further, particularly with regard to focusing on workers’ rights in the territories.
Sandblast updated the group on the events they have coming up in April and there were discussions about inviting Javier Bardem to show his film and give a talk in Parliament about the situation which might bring some much needed British press coverage for the situation.
The group agreed to meet in the next few months to continue to work together on issues related to Western Sahara.