Boy detained by Moroccan police for drawing Western Sahara flags

The arrest and maltreatment of Saharawis by the Moroccan police goes against the commitment to respecting the rights of the child and related covenants. Anass Oamri, an eleven year old boy, was detained on 18 January, taken from his family in El Aaiún, the capital of Western Sahara and spent a night at the police station, and was going to be taken to Morocco to the orphanage in Salé over 1000km from his home.

The Moroccan authorities accused him of drawing and making Western Sahara flags. Anass Omari is a Moroccan orphan who was adopted by the Saharawi family with whom he lives in El Aaiún. Anass sent a text from the place where he was being detained to ask his friends, other Saharawi children, not to forget about him and to remember that he is Saharawi like them.

“These actions is a deliberate retaliation on the part of the authorities towards our family and especially Anass for feeling ‘Saharawi'” stated one member of his adoptive family.
There has however been a campaign against his detention on social media resulting in the boy being released and returned to his family.

The Moroccan occupation forces continue to use a policy of systematic arrests of Saharawi children as a form of collective imprisonment. These children are subjected to different kinds of psychological and physical torture
“Anass is one of very few orphaned children fortunate to be adopted by a family and saved from the Hell that are the Moroccan orphanages” commented Mastafa Alhamidi who is working on Anass’ case. Children such as Anass are victims of the society in which they live, where those living in poverty who fear the reprisals of a society where having a child out of wedlock is so harshly frowned upon. Young single mothers flee their homes during pregnancy in order to hide themselves away and then abandon their babies.

Moroccan orphanages are known to be unsafe places and are part of peadophile networks.
Children fear the orphanages. Many say that a life on the street is better than a life in an orphanage. Chidlren are subjected to violence and many are raped, sometimes by other older children in the orphanage.

Young girls are often made to become domestic workers whilst the boys are forced to sell tissues on the streets or clean people’s shoes. They are exploited by gangs known as ‘Samsara’ from a young age. Orphans, without family support, often end up living in poverty are socially excluded and in the case of young women, often end up being sexually exploited.

UNICEF has launched a campaign: ‘Supporting mothers to prevent abandonment in Morocco’

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