quarta-feira, 8 de outubro de 2008
POLISARIO UK and Ireland Representation addresses a letter to European Parliamentarians
POLISARIO Front’s Representation in the UK and Ireland addressed a letter on the different issue of the problem in Western Sahara, to members of the European Parliament, this week.
The letter focussed on the legal aspect of the conflict, tackling at the same time the questions of human rights violations, UN involvement and peace process and the state of siege imposed on the occupied zones of Western Sahara and the efforts that the European Parliament can make to break this siege.
Here is the complete text of the letter, of which UPES received a copy:
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Dear Member of the European Parliament,
As the new POLISARIO Front’s representative in UK and Ireland, it gives me an immense pleasure to send you, honourable members of European Parliament, this letter on the question of Western Sahara.
As you may be aware, the Western Sahara conflict has been going for the last three and a half decades. Western Sahara remains the last Non-Self-Governing Territory in Africa whose decolonisation process was dramatically disrupted owing to Morocco’s invasion and subsequent annexation of the Territory in 1976 in violation of UN resolutions and the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice. This will be discussed again at 63rd UN general assembly.
You may also be aware of the tremendous efforts that the United Nations have been deploying to bring the decolonisation process of Western Sahara to conclusion. These involved the joint elaboration by the UN and OAU of a Settlement Plan that was agreed to by the two parties, the POLISARIO Front and Morocco, on 30 August 1988 and adopted by the Security Council resolutions 658 (1990) and 690 (1991). The objective of the plan was to hold a free and fair referendum under the UN supervision where the Saharawi people could exercise their right to self-determination choosing between independence and integration into Morocco. Nonetheless, the referendum has not yet taken place due primarily to Morocco’s dilatory tactics and its lack of good will, which immediately caused the whole peace process to halt.
We expect that the General Secretary of UN, Mr Ban ki-Moon, will shortly officially announce the name of his special envoy for Western Sahara - it has been widely speculated that it will be Christopher W.S. Ross, a United States State Department official and former ambassador. His task will be to breathe new life into the UN process. The POLISARIO Front have taken part in the past four direct rounds of negotiations with Morocco under the auspices of UN in good faith and with the same sincerity and the same hopes with which it participated in the preceding negotiations initiated by Mr. James Baker III. It is regrettable however that the Moroccan representatives were reluctant to discuss any substance, expressing once again its unwillingness to move the process forward on the basis of self-determination.
Meanwhile the EU is considering granting “advance status” to Morocco. All agreements made under the auspices of the EU, and specifically the Barcelona declaration that underpins the Euro-Mediterranean partnership, strongly emphases the full respect of human rights.. As a reaction to Morocco’s obstructionist attitude, the Saharawis in the occupied territories started, on 21 May 2005, a series of peaceful demonstrations calling for the respect for the inalienable right of the Saharawi people to self-determination.
There are numerous reports by Amnesty International that detail the Moroccan authorities response:
“Hundreds of Sahrawi activists suspected of participating in demonstrations against Moroccan rule in 2007 and previous years were arrested, including minors. Dozens alleged torture or ill-treatment during questioning by security forces. Some were tried on charges of violent conduct and others were released after questioning. In May, security forces forcibly dispersed demonstrations by Sahrawi students at university campuses in Moroccan cities calling for independence. Dozens of students were arrested and many were beaten. Sultana Khaya lost an eye, apparently as a result of beatings. Most were released uncharged but around 20 were convicted of violent conduct and sentenced to up to one year in prison. Sahrawi human rights activists continued to be harassed.”
And Human Rights Watch states:
“Moroccan authorities bar most activities they consider advocacy for an independent Western Sahara, invoking provisions of Moroccan law that criminalize attacks on the country’s “territorial integrity”.
And the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has also documented the gross human rights abuses perpetrated by the Moroccan authorities against the Saharawi population in the occupied territories.
In the meantime, Morocco continues to plunder the natural resources of Western Sahara in violation of the right of its indigenous population to have a permanent sovereignty over its resources.
The least the Saharawi people can expect from the dialogue that exists between Morocco and EU is pressure on Morocco to end the atrocities carried out against the Saharawi civilians in the occupied territories, to give information about the 500 Saharawi victims of disappearance, and, in addition, to release all the Saharawi political prisoners currently held in Moroccan jails .
Although many delegations (including MEPs, MPs, Journalists. NGOs, diplomats, and students) have been banned or expelled from the occupied territories of Western Sahara I sincerely hope that the European Parliament’s delegation scheduled to pay a visit in the end of this year will be given full access. I trust that the delegation will use this visit as an opportunity to make it clear to Morocco that the benefits of advanced status will only be possible through the respect of human right of the Saharawi and progress in allowing the people of Western Sahara to exercise their right if self-determination without any constraints .
I am utterly convinced if the European Union is going to assume its political responsibility toward the Saharawi people it ought to act quickly and use its influence with Morocco so at last the Maghreb region will have a settled and prosperous future as a close and friendly neighbour to the European Union.
If you would like further information about the current situation in the Western Sahara please do not hesitate to contact me.
Y. Lamine Baali POLISARIO Front Chief Representative UK & Ireland