A British Delegation visited the Occupied Territories of Western Sahara from 13-16th February 2014, showing the British people’s solidarity with the people of Western Sahara. The delegation was organized by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Western Sahara and was made up of two MPS, Jeremy Corbyn and Mark Williams; John Gurr, Coordinator of the Western Sahara Campaign; and John Hilary, Executive Director of War on Want.
The objective of the visit was to gain first-hand experience of the dramatic human rights situation in Western Sahara and the daily human rights violations committed by the Moroccan regime against Saharawi citizens and against peaceful demonstrations. The delegation also showed support for the Saharawis’ right to self-determination.
The delegation met with representatives of civil society associations, concerned with human rights (including Adala UK), workers’ rights, and disabled people’s organisations. During the meeting, activists reported on crimes committed against Saharawis as well as on Morocco’s exploitation of Western Sahara’s natural resources which goes against international law and UN resolutions.
The delegation and a member of Adala UK also witnessed a Saharawi demonstration, demanding the right to self-determination and the widening of the MINURSO mandate to include human rights monitoring. Here the delegation witnessed blatant violations of the rights of Saharawi citizens, including women and minors, by the Moroccan authorities.
Members of the delegation were also interrogated by the Moroccan police. They were detained by more than 30 plain clothes Moroccan police whilst travelling in the car of Lakhal Mohammed Salem, a member of human rights organisation CODESA. During their detention John Gurr’s camera was confiscated in order to delete images of the demonstration.
John Hilary and Mark Williams will present a report of their visit at a public meeting in the House of Commons. Adala UK will attend this public meeting.