AdalaUK believes that the time has come for the Moroccan authorities to cease their repression of Saharawi demonstrations which demand the right of self-determination in the occupied territories of Western Sahara.
The Saharawi people have the right to freely express their views and to demonstrate peaceably without running the risk of being violently attacked.
The Moroccan authorities have for many years shamelessly suppressed the Saharawi people’s freedom of expression by prohibiting public meetings and demonstrations, often using excessive force against the Saharawi demonstrators, without any respect for the requirements of international law. Their aim is to silence the voices which demand the Saharawi people’s right to self-determination, as recognised by the UN under Resolution 1415.
Saharawi demonstrators have for the last few months arranged peaceable demonstrations in different cities of the occupied territories on every 15th of the month until April. They do so as a means of requesting an end to the repression through an increase in the power of MINURSO (UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara) and the creation of an independent mechanism for human rights monitoring.
(15 April each year is the date when the UN reconsiders the MINURSO mandate).
The Moroccan authorities accuse the Saharawi demonstrators of threatening the security of the country and have vowed to harshly retaliate against demonstrators, in order to legally justify the repression of peaceable protests.
On 15 March, during the last demonstration, the Moroccan security forces resorted to the use of excessive force using sticks, stones and abusive language alongside other means of humiliation in order to dissuade the demonstrators from continuing. The threat of arbitrary detention is also used, as in the case of Mohamed Lamine Alboudani.
The Moroccan authorities continue to detain and torture journalists and photographers and other activists from civil society groups and human rights activists, as in the case of Salha Boutanguiza, a television correspondent for ‘RASDTV’ who was brutally mistreated until she lost consciousness and was later hospitalized. Khalid Rohi, a photographer for ‘Western Sahara News’ and Mohamad Laghdaf Lafkir, member of ‘Equipe Media’ were also arrested and subjected to interrogation and other illegal treatment.
Activists covering the demonstrations were also victims of Moroccan repression, including Hasana Aba (ASVDH), Brahim Dahane (ASVDH) and AdalaUK members, Sidi Ahmed and Salima Obaid.
AdalaUK is concerned about:
*the block on international press imposed by the Moroccan authorities in the occupied territories which prevents the entrance of foreign journalists into the country to cover the demonstrations;
*the worsening situation with regard to human rights in the occupied territories;
*the repeated use of excessive force by the Moroccan security forces against demonstrators;
*the arbitrary detentions of dozens of activists, some of whom are tried in front of a military court and many of whom are subjected to torture as punishment for their actions.