The Moroccan government must protect freedom of peaceful assembly in the Western Sahara

Uniformed and plain clothes Moroccan police and auxiliary forces Image by AdalaUK membres

Uniformed and plain clothes Moroccan police and auxiliary forces Image by AdalaUK membres

The Moroccan authorities must protect the right to peaceful assembly following the recent prohibition of a meeting planned by Saharawi NGOs in the ‘Linaash’ neighbourhood of El Aiun, Western Sahara.

The Moroccan occupying authorities violated the right to peaceful assembly by preventing NGOs and activists in favour of the Saharawi population’s right to self-determination – recognised by the UN – from holding a gathering in the Saharawi capital, El Aiun.

Residents of the street in which said gathering was planned were barred from accessing their homes.

Mohamad Salem, one such resident, spoke to members of AdalaUK present at the scene: ‘As you can see the road is totally blocked by both uniformed and plain clothed police officers and their cars. They won’t let me past to my house. As you can see my son is three years old and he’s cold, they wouldn’t let him go with his mother either, who is in the house.’

The possibility of disturbance to the peace and acts of violence, such as the Moroccan occupying authorities had alleged, was not sufficient motivation to justify the banning of the meeting.

Peaceful gatherings expressing an opinion against that of the state regarding the Western Sahara have always been declared ‘not authorised’ by the authorities and been broken up by the police, be they held in Moroccan universities, the occupied territories of the Western Sahara or in any other location.

The decision of the Moroccan authorities has violated the right to peaceful assembly. AdalaUK clearly recalls that all people should enjoy this right, free from political or any other kind of discrimination.

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