“Free Mustapha Abd Daiem”
Saharawi Journalist, writer and human rights activist
Save the life of the family of a Saharawi prisoner of conscience in hunger strike
Dear Sir or Madame
I am writing you, on behalf of The Saharawi Journalists’ and Writers’ Union (UPES), to inform you about a critical human situation that needs your immediate and urgent care.
The Saharawi prisoner of conscience, human rights activist, short-stories writer and journalist, Mustapha Abd Daiem, who is serving a three years imprisonment sentence in the Moroccan prison of Inzegan is undertaking an unlimited hunger strike in his cell since last Saturday 13 December 2008 to protest against the unfair judgement he was victim to.
The Moroccan colonial court sentenced him 3 years imprisonment, 50.000 Moroccan dr fine and 10 years ban from public employment.
The members of his family, (his father, Mohamed Abd Daiem (81 Years old/ he fainted twice on the 21 and 22 December and refused to take medication), his mother Raquia Chkili (70 years old), his two sisters Khadija and Mariam, his wife, Raquia Amay, and his two nephews Saaid and Yuness, are also hunger striking since the same day (13 Dec), sitting in front of the house of their son in Assa (a city in the southern zone of Morocco).
So far, many members of the family fainted, lost consciousness and all of them started feeling side effects of the hunger strike, especially the mother, who needs Insulin, but also his sister Khadija who was transferred on Saturday 20 Dec because she started vomiting blood, and the doctor ordered her transfer to the hospital of Gulmim (100 Km west of Assa) because her state is serious, he said.
Mustapha’s wife, Raquia Amay, and his nephew Youness also lost consciousness last week, but they refuse to take any medication unless the prisoner of conscience is given justice by the Moroccan court.
In their last press release, of which UPES received a copy (read the translated copy below), the hunger-striking members of the family reiterated their determination to keep up with the hunger strike until their son is given justice.
The story of Mustapha Abd Daiem
Mustapha Abd Daiem was born in March 1962 in the Moroccan city of Sale, he graduated in Philosophy from the university of Mohamed V in Rabat in 1984, and graduated from the Regional Centre of Teachers in El Qunaitira (Morocco) in 1986, to work as a teacher of Arabic language and Islamic sciences.
Meanwhile, he worked as a reporter to many Moroccan newspapers, especially: “El Watan”, “Al Alam Assiyasi”, “Al Ahdath Almaghribiya” and used to publish in many other Moroccan newspapers.
In 2006 he became a member of UPES, and started publishing short stories and articles on the UPES website, criticising the Moroccan authorities’ violations in Western Sahara and unveiling the truth about many phenomenon and realities on the ground.
He used to be very active in Moroccan political parties and civil society, and is an ex-member of : “the Moroccan socialist youth”, “Ex-Member of the Bureau of the Moroccan youth workshops”, “Ex-Member of the Bureau of the Popular childhood”.
In December 2007, he was one of many Saharawis who decided to found a Saharawi Committee for the Defence of Human Rights in Zag (a city in the south of Morocco) and he was elected Secretary General of the new human rights body.
Because of his writing and criticism to the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara, and because he clearly indicates that he is for an independent Western Sahara, Mustapha Abd Daiem started having problems with the Moroccan authorities, especially since 2005, when he started working in the city of Zag and Assa, where there is a majority of Saharawis. As a journalist, he kept reporting in his articles about the Moroccan serious human rights’ violations and abuses in these two cities and in the other cities of Western Sahara under Moroccan occupation, and this didn’t suit the authorities in the city, who tried many time to intimidate him, the members of his family and his friends.
In 8 December 2006, he tried to make an end to his life in public, by pouring fuel on his body aiming to set himself on fire. Saharawi population in the street stopped him from doing so in the last minute.
In March 2007, he was attacked by a person on the sold of the Moroccan authorities, who tried to kill him. The result of the attack for the Saharawi journalist and writer was a broken arm and he was officially advised by his doctor to take 60 days off to recover (in an official certificate).
The Moroccan police didn’t arrest the criminal, and instead, the Saharawi journalist was brought before the Moroccan persecutor.
In October 2008, Mr. Mustapha Abd Daiem was arrested on the 28th October 2008, in the city of Assa (south of Morocco), because he clearly expressed support to Saharawi demonstrators in the city who were confronting Moroccan forces after the latter attacked their peaceful sit-in the same day.
When he heard about the serious attacks by the Moroccan forces against many Saharawi families’ houses (many were ransacked) he decided to release his students to give them a chance to go help their parents. He also decided to lower the Moroccan flag “as a sign of sadness and solidarity with the victims of the attack”, he said in a testimony that he sent to UPES from his prison, and published on the website.
The same day of his arrest in Assa, his sister Khadija was arrested in the city of Dakhla (a city in Western Sahara occupied by Morocco). Khadija had a misunderstanding with a Moroccan settler who works with the secret police, she went to complain at the police station, and instead of arresting or calling the Moroccan settler for interrogation, she found herself accused of a so-called “attack against a public agent while doing his duty”.
The Saharawi Journalists’ and Writers’ Union (UPES) would like to inform all international human rights organisations, associations, and the UN’s relevant bodies that it is deeply concerned about the fate and physical and moral safety of Mr. AbdDaiem, and calls on them to adopt the necessary demarches to help release him as soon as possible, especially that he was judged in the absence of his lawyers in the last trial in the Moroccan court of appeal in Agadir simply because they were even not informed about the date of the trial.
The Saharawi Journalists’ and Writers’ Union (UPES) also expresses deep concerns about the state of health of the hunger-striking members of the family of Abd Daiem, especially that the father and the mother are very old for such a strike (81 and 70 years old), and that at least three other members (the prisoner’s sister, wife and nephew) are in immediate danger.
The Saharawi Journalists’ and Writers’ Union (UPES) would like to inform you that it tried to contact Reporters Without Borders, and other human rights organisations to inform them about the situation, in vain. And would like to seize this opportunity to inform you that it will soon launch a campaign of support and solidarity with the Saharawi journalist, short-stories writer and human rights activist, Mustapha Abd Daiem, and will need your support, assistance and advices.
The Saharawi Journalists’ and Writers’ Union (UPES) would like to highly praise Amnesty International support, having issued a press release on the subject on Tuesday 23 December (read the press release bellow). And would like to call on the international organisation to remain seized of the subject until it’s settlement.
Today, 24 December, the Saharawi Journalists’ and Writers’ Union (UPES) launched an urgent appeal towards the members of the family to stop their hunger strike, so as to give us an opportunity to campaign in favour of the prisoner of conscience without risking to lose anyone of them because of the strike.
For this, please check the UPES website (www.upes.org) in the coming days for further information, and for any correspondence send your emails to the Secretary General of UPES, Mr. Malainin Lakhal on his email below.
Finally, please accept Sir or Madame, my best regards.
Mr. Malainin Lakhal
Saharawi Refugee camps
URL Arabic: www.upes.org
URL English: www.upes.org/default_eng.asp
URL Spanish: www.upes.org/default_es.asp
Cell phone: +213.722.214.171.124
The hunger-striking members of the family Abd Daiem
20 December 2008
For the eight successive day of our open hunger-strike, and despite the deterioration of our health and also the deterioration of the health of the Saharawi prisoner of conscience, writer and journalist, Mustapha Abd Daiem, imprisoned in the local prison of Inzegan, we, the family of the Saharawi prisoner of conscience Abd Daiem declare:
1- Our attachment to the Saharawi people’s right to self-determination and our reaffirmation of POLISARIO Front as its legitimate and only representative.
2- Our determination to continue the open hunger-strike until justice is done.
3- Our call to all Saharawi human rights organisations to assume their responsibilities in front of God, in front of history and in front of the Saharawi people.
4- Our call to the UN and to international organisations and bodies to put more pressures on Morocco to force it release all Saharawi prisoners of conscience.
All the country free or martyrdom
Index: MDE 29/016/2008
Date: 23 December 2008
Morocco/Western Sahara: Irregularities in Sahrawi activist’s trial
Amnesty International is concerned about the recent sentencing of Sahrawi activist Mustafa Abdel Dayem, currently on hunger strike, to three years in prison on the basis of what he claims was a falsified record of statements he made in custody. The organization is also concerned that other aspects of Mustafa Abdel Dayem’s trial proceedings did not meet international fair trial standards as he was denied the right to legal counsel during his appeal hearing. His case was submitted several days ago to Morocco’s highest court, the Court of Cassation, which can review the alleged irregularities in his trial and, if confirmed, dismiss the ruling and send the case for retrial by a lower court.
Amnesty International fears that Mustafa Abdel Dayem’s conviction may have been intended to punish him for his public support for the right to self-determination for the people of Western Sahara and for the Polisario Front, which calls for an independent state in Western Sahara and runs a self-proclaimed government-in-exile in refugee camps in south-western Algeria.
Mustafa Abdel Dayem, member of both the Assa-Zag Branch of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights and the Sahrawi Journalists’ and Writers’ Union, was arrested without a warrant on the evening of 27 October 2008 at his home in Assa in southern Morocco and taken to the Royal Gendarmerie Station in the same city. His arrest followed anti-government protests in Assa earlier that day by Sahrawi members of the population calling for the creation of employment opportunities and the right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination. While Mustafa Abdel Dayem claims not to have participated in the protests, he admits to having lowered the Moroccan flag from the ‘Alal Al-Fassi secondary school, where he worked as a security guard. He explains that his action was intended to show his support and solidarity with the demonstrators and his opposition to the intervention of law enforcement officers to break up the protests.
On 4 November 2008, the Court of First Instance of Guelmim sentenced Mustafa Abdel Dayem to a three-year prison term and a fine of 50,000 dirhams (approximately US$6,220) for offending the flag of the Kingdom of Morocco, rebelling and inciting an armed gathering, participating in the destruction of public property and participating in the contempt of public officials on duty. The sentence also included a prohibition on Mustafa Abdel Dayem from practicing teaching or working in any educational institution for a period of 10 years. Mustafa Abdel Dayem insists that the record of his questioning by the Royal Gendarmerie (procès-verbal), on which his conviction was largely based, was falsified – attributing to him acts which he neither committed nor confessed to committing during his interrogation at the Royal Gendarmerie station in Assa. He argued that he had signed a procès-verbal following his questioning, whereas the one presented to the court was unsigned. During the hearing, his defence team walked out in protest at the court’s refusal to call on the Royal Gendarmerie to produce as evidence the procès-verbal signed by Mustafa Abdel Dayem.
During his appeal trial, Mustafa Abdel Dayem was denied his right to be defended by legal counsel. According to members of his defence team, none of his lawyers was summoned to the appeal hearings which took place at the Court of Appeals of Agadir. Furthermore, Mustafa Abdel Dayem claims that his request to postpone the second hearing on 11 December until his lawyers were present or until he had had the opportunity to constitute a different defence team was rejected by the court, which confirmed the lower court’s conviction later that day. On 19 December his lawyers submitted an appeal against the ruling to the Court of Cassation, which is mandated to review cases only on questions of procedure, but no date has yet been set for its consideration of the case.
Mustafa Abdel Dayem, currently incarcerated at Inzegane Prison in Agadir, has reportedly been on hunger strike since 13 December 2008 to protest the Court of First Instance’s refusal to request as evidence his signed procès-verbal to the Royal Gendarmerie and the Court of Appeal’s insistence on pronouncing its decision despite the absence of his defence team. Seven of his family members in Assa, including his parents, who are elderly, started a hunger strike on the same day in solidarity with him, threatening to continue it until he is retried in a trial meeting international standards.
Since 2005, dozens of Sahrawis have been charged with violent conduct and detained after being arrested during or after demonstrations against Moroccan rule in Western Sahara. Many of those arrested allege that they were tortured or otherwise ill-treated to force them to sign confessions, to intimidate them from protesting further or to punish them for demanding the right to self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.
The Moroccan authorities continue to claim that those imprisoned were involved in criminal acts and are not being held for their views. Amnesty International has serious concerns about the fairness of their trials, including that some of the evidence was tainted on account of unexamined claims of torture or other ill-treatment and that defendants were not permitted to call defence witnesses
In October 2008, Yahya Mohamed ElHafed, member of the Collective of Sahrawi Human Rights Defenders, was found guilty of violent conduct and sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment in connection with his participation in a protest in Tan Tan against Moroccan rule. Eight other defendants received sentences of up to four years in prison. Allegations that they were tortured during questioning were not investigated.