15/01/2014: The Saharawi population took to the streets and peacefully demonstrated for the integration of a mechanism to monitor human rights into Minurso’s (the UN mission for a referendum in Western Sahara) mandate. Protests took place in Smara Street, one of the main streets of the occupied capital city of Western Sahara, El Aiun. Many Saharawis were unable to reach the demonstration due to road blocks.
The Maatala neighbourhood was completely blocked with shops being forced to shut, with only Moroccan security forces allowed in the streets.
At 5pm the Moroccan forces violently attacked a group of Saharawi demonstrators who were holding up signs and chanting slogans demanding respect for basic human rights of the Saharawi population. Dozens of Saharawis were seriously injured and many other Saharawi citizens who were on their way to the demonstration were followed and threatened.
Demonstrators moved to other areas of the city and according to eye witnesses, the Moroccan forces used excessive force against the demonstrators and intimidated women by forcing them to take off their clothes in the street, pulling their hair and dragging them across the floor, which is what happened to Adala member Slaima Mohamad Obayd.
A member of Adala visited victims in El Aiun hospital where there was a large group of people who had been injured during the demonstrations awaiting treatment. According to one of the doctors, there was a “special room” for those who were injured during the clashes to separate them from other patients. Meanwhile the hospital was surrounded by security forces in civilian clothes.
The city continues to be guarded by military and auxiliary forces and Moroccan military vehicles continue to arrive in El Aiun. Several Saharawi houses in the Maatallah neighbourhood have been raided.
Adala UK condemns the use of violence against peaceful protesters in El Aiun.