Saharawis in the Occupied Territories attacked and abused by Moroccan authorities in the wake of the death of the Saharawi President

ghjkThe family of the late Saharawi President erected a tent to honour his death. This tent has been pulled down by the Moroccan authorities and those present paying their respects to their President have been violently attacked by the Moroccan authorities. Members of Adala UK in the Occupied Territories, explained that the tent was put up outside the house of Erguibi, one of Abdelaziz’s brothers, as an act of solidarity. Erguibi is a well-known lawyer and former prisoner of conscience who spent 16 years in the appalling conditions of the Secret Prision in Meguna where dozens of Saharawis are detained and tortured throughout their detention.

We came to the house of the President’s brother to pay our respects to our President and show our pain following his death. He fought his whole life for our rights. The Moroccan government must understand our pain rather than subjecting to us cruel treatment and preventing us from gathering in acts of solidarity to pay tribute to Mohamed Abdelaziz and acknowledge our grief” said one witness to members of Adala UK.

The occupied cities of Western Sahara are under siege at the moment from Moroccan forces who are constantly patrolling the streets in order to quash any demonstration or act of solidarity by the Saharawis for their President. (Watch this video)

Following his death, military presence has been higher everywhere. Especially outside Erguibi’s house where I saw people violently attacked. Some were intimidated by members of the armed forces, especially women who were being sexually harrassed” described one member of Adala UK, in the city of Boujdour.

Watch this video to see scenes from the attacks by Police against peaceful demonstrators.

Salma, a 20-year old woman from Smara told Adala UK: “We were going to our classes. My friend Fatima was hit in the face and I was kicked – right there in the street in broad daylight. We ran into someone’s house because we were so scared. We stayed there for 2 hours as we were too scared to leave”.

Reports say that uniformed and plain clothes officers used excessive force against men, women and children.

Adala UK has continuously denounced the actions of the Moroccan authorities when it comes to the use of violence against members of the public, and the impunity they seem to have following such attacks. The statement made by the Moroccan Police spokesperson that their officers are merely responding to the violence perpetrated by the Saharawis is false. Loval government officials cannot produce one piece of evidence to corroborate this claim.

We demand that the local and national government launches an independent and thorough investigation against all claims of the use of excessive force by the Moroccan police toward the Saharawis, bringing to justice those found guilty of the use of excessive force.

Additional information:

31 May 2016, the President of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), and Secretary General of the Polisario Front, Mohaned Abdelaziz, died. Abdelaziz was elected Secretary General on 9 June 1976, following the declaration of SADR on 27 February the same year. In 1982 he was elected President and he remained in both offices until he death.

The Polisario Front has received countless messages of solidarity and condolences from Presidents, governments and organisations worldwide who express their sadness regarding the death of Abdelaziz.

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