Hassana Aalia (26) is a founder member of the ‘Equipo Medio’, a group of young Saharawi journalist working in secrecy in the Occupied Territories of Western Sahara, and risk their lives to produce images and news of the human rights violations suffered by Saharawis on a daily basis for the outside world. Aalia is also a member of ASVDH, and internationally known Saharawi organisation for the victims of human rights violations.
In October 2010, Hassana was one of over 20,000 Saharawis who gathered in the desert, near El Aaiun, for the peaceful Gdeim Izik protest camp, which Noam Chomsky has called the beginning of the Arab Spring. The camp was violently broken up by the Moroccan security forces on 9th November 2010.
Back in El Aaiun, like many other participants, Hassana went into hiding but was arrested two months later. Following his arrest he was tortured. He received a 4 month suspended sentence and a few months later travelled to the Basque Country in Spain to study, as he had received a scholarship. He entered and left Spain several times without any problems, until 2012.
In November 2012, whilst in Spain, he found out that Morocco has issued a search and arrest warrant for him. In February 2013, a military tribunal handed down a life-sentence to him, in absentia. During the same trial, 24 other Saharawi political prisoners received long prison sentences for their participation and organisation of the Gdeim Izik camp. According to international observers, the trial did not adhere to the basic principles of a fair trial and violated the Geneva Convention and the Moroccan Constitution.
Hassana was forced to seek political asylum in Spain; however on 19th January of this year, he was informed that he only had 15 days until he would have to leave the country. If he is forced to return to Morocco, his fate will be the same as that of hundreds of other Saharawi political prisoners – torture, starvation, daily ill-treatment and humiliation.
Adala UK regrets the decision taken by the Spanish authorities to deny Hassana Aalia asylum, particularly as the suffering of the population of Western Sahara is a direct result of the Spanish state’s failure to meet its responsibility to conduct a proper decolonisation process and fulfill its role as administrative power.