quinta-feira, 11 de dezembro de 2008

Morocco doubles military budget

According to reports by the Moroccan press, the 2009 defence budget will be the double of this year’s budget in real terms, rising to 16 percent of all state expenditures.

This comes at the same time as Morocco becomes the major recipient of EU funds. These rare details about Morocco’s 2009 military budget increase were published recently by the Arabic language weekly Nichane, a sister publication of Morocco’s renown French-language Tel Quel magazine.

According to Nichane, "a huge budget has been assessed to the Army through the finance budget of 2009, thus doubling the budget of the previous year."

The weekly adds that "all this happened in the Parliament under silence," asking why this significant budget rise has not been debated publicly.

The Rabat parliament had approved a budget for 2009 that supplies National Defence with a total of Dirham 34.526 billion (euro 3.11 billion).

According to Nichane, this represents a record 16% of Morocco’s national budget, and in real terms, the defence budget approved by parliament is twice the budget of last year.

"Four years before the defence budget did not exceed Dirham 12 billion," the weekly adds. According to Nichane, the doubled defence budget was "making it possible to enter deals to buy sophisticated weapons in order to create equilibrium in the region with Algeria."

Neighbouring Algeria is seen as an arch-rival in Morocco, and blamed for the Moroccan failure to have its occupation of Western Sahara recognised internationally.

The independent weekly expressed its dismay over the lack of openness about the huge increase in military spending, while expressing that it understood the need to spend more on defence as Algeria had a military upper hand.

It noted that during the reign of late King Hassan II, defence budgets were approved in silence by parliament, without public debate, but that under his son and successor Mohamed VI, also defence budgets had been revealed and discussed in the press.

Nichane deplored this setback, in particular at a time when the increase in military spending was doubling.

The huge increase in Morocco’s military spending comes at a time when the Western Sahara conflict is deadlocked and the King insists he will only accept autonomy for the former Spanish colony, while the Saharawi liberation movement POLISARIO demands former peace agreements be respected, which include a referendum over independence.

POLISARIO has threatened to break the 1991 UN-brokered ceasefire, which is overseen by a UN peacekeeping mission, MINURSO.

The doubling of the Moroccan military budget also comes at the same time that the Kingdom’s economy is expected to expand rapidly because of a new treaty giving it an "advanced status" in the EU.

The advanced status opens up EU markets for Moroccan products, but also will give the Kingdom cash transfers from Brussels in order to further its economic development.

According to recent reports by the state-controlled news agency MAP, Morocco will now become the principal recipient of European funds earmarked for the countries of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).

The Kingdom next year will get an annual financial assistance of more than euro 190 million. This financial assistance from the EU has allowed the Rabat government to expand budget spending in all sectors in 2009.

Morocco becomes major recipient of EU funds

Moroccan government’s owned pres agency, MAP, indicated that Morocco has become the major recipient of the European funds earmarked for the countries of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), with an annual financial assistance of more than 190 million euros, Morocco.

This EU aid to Morocco doesn’t take into consideration the catastrophic records of the Moroccan regime in terms of the human rights violations, not only against Moroccan citizens, but also against the citizens of the occupied territories of Western Sahara.

The EU has recently granted Morocco the advanced status within the Union, which exceeds partnership but below EU membership.

MAP, reported the head of the European Commission in Rabat, Bruno Dethomas saying that the union is set to beef up its financial assistance to Morocco, pledging that the northern African country is due to receive a sum of 654 million euros between 2007 and 2010.

Morocco, on the other hand, has doubled his defence budget, AFROL news reported, quoting the Moroccan magazine, NICHAN.

This fact, makes specialist wonder how can the EU provide such a country with all this aid, while it is listed as one of the worse dictatorships in the world, and is so far refusing to implement more than 100 UN’s resolutions on Western Sahara.

France must grant favourable conditions to Saharawis’ self-determination

The Secretary General of the Saharawi Women Union, Mrs. Fatma Mahdi, estimated that France must work to provide favourable conditions for the Saharawi people to freely exercise their right to self-determination, in a statement she gave Tuesday in Paris.
France can play this role by respect of the principles of international justice, human rights and peace consolidation," Fatma Mahdi told the press.

It should be recalled that the French government has always backed the Moroccan colonial adventure in Western Sahara, in complete opposition to the international law.

IN the early 70ies, the French army even backed Moroccan army to invade Western Sahara. French Jaguars attacked POLISARIO Front’s freedom fighters in 76 causing many deaths.

The French government also supports Morocco in the UN, and usually opposes any kind of mentioning of Rabat’s human rights violation in Western Sahara.

In 2006, France refused to allow the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights to publish a report elaborated by a mission to the region, because it clearly states that Morocco’s violation of the right to self-determination is the reason for all human rights violations in Western Sahara.

CODESA Press Release on International Day for Human Rights

El Aaiun, Western Sahara,

December 10th, 2008.

Press Release

The Collective of Sahrawi Human Rights Defenders, CODESA, celebrates The International Day for Human Rights, which coincides with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights under the theme: "Freedom and Hope for the Prisoner and the Disappeared".

The aim is to express the CODESA's commitment to speak out against the human rights violations and to work for the release of the Sahrawi political prisoners. Yahya Mohamed Elhafed, the CODESA and the AMDH Tantan-section member, is the human rights defender sentenced to the longest detention period, 15 years imprisonment.

While commemorating the international day for human rights, the CODESA expresses its great concerns about the human rights situation in the Western Sahara, south of Morocco and at the Moroccan universities where the Sahrawi students continue their high studies. During the few years, but especially the year 2008, the Moroccan authorities intensified its repressive campaigns against the Sahrawis wherever they are. As a way of illustration, we will site a few examples here:

-Yahya Mohamed Elhafed, a human rights defender, already sacked out of work for his political position concerning the Western Sahara issue, was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. Four other Sahrawi youth from Tantan, south of Morocco, were sentenced to four years' imprisonment in Inzegane Prison, Morocco. Two of these youth (Najem Baouba and Mahmoud Elbarkawi) had been raped by glass bottles while in custody in Tantan police station before they were sent to court.

-Elmoustapha Abdedayem, a human rights defender and a "surveillant general" in a high school in Assa, south of Morocco, was arrested and sentenced in the first instance for three years' imprisonment, 50000 dhs fine (about 5000 US dollars) and ten years ban from work at any sector. Abdedayem had been arrested for removing the Moroccan flag from the high school he was working in as a protest against the fierce Moroccan oppression against Sahrawi demonstrations in Assa, calling for the Sahrawi people's right to self-determination in October 2008.

-In late November/early December 2008, the Moroccan authorities intensified its repression against the Sahrawi university students and the whole Sahrawi population, which ended in the killing of two Sahrawi students in Agadir, Morocco at a peaceful sit-in. On December 01st, the Sahrawi students were protesting against the travel agency SUPRATOUR for not keeping their promise to bring enough buses for the Sahrawi students in order to take them to their home cities. The police agents, surrounding the sit-in and controlling the situation, intervened after the coach ran over many of the demonstrators and murdered two students on the spot ( Elhoucine Abdessadeq Lekief, 20 years old, and Baba Khaya, 22 years old). A third student was sent to hospital in coma, and many others were seriously injured. Instead of arresting the bus driver, the police only intervened to beat and arrest the other Sahrawi students at the bus station.

-The human rights defenders in general and the CODESA members in particular, have increasingly been banned, from continuing their higher studies at the Moroccan universities while there is no single university in the whole Western Sahara for political reasons. Ali Salem Tamek and Alamine Sahel, both members of the CODESA, have not been allowed to study this year at university in Mohamedia and Agadir, Morocco for their advocacy for self-determination of the Western Sahara.

-The Moroccan states is still doing its best to keep the European Parliament commission from meeting the Sahrawi victims in the Western Sahara by deciding a prearranged schedule for them that excludes the Sahrawi human rights organisations.

- It is also still working hard together with other countries not to publish the report made by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights after their visit to Morocco and the Western Sahara between May 16th and 19th, 2006.The report insists that the main reason behind all the abuses in the Western Sahara is the violation of the right to self-determination.

-The Sahrawi human rights defender, El Haiba Emah, has been a target for the Moroccan police in Tantan, south of Morocco, represented by the police head officer in the city, Mustapha Kammour, known for his aggressiveness against the Sahrawis and responsible for the miscarriage of a Sahrawi woman, Ghlaina Barhah, in El Aaiun, Western Sahara by deliberately kicking her on the belly after urinating on her in the police station. Recently, El Haiba Elmah, a member of the CODESA and AMDH –Tantan section, was aggressively attacked by Mustapha Kammour, on December 2008 at the funeral of the Sahrawi student Elhoucine Abdesadeq Lektief, murdered at the university students sit-in in Agadir, Morocco.

-The Moroccan authorities are still continuing to ban the Sahrawi population fro peaceful protest (Sahrawi students at middle and high schools) Sahrawi workers at the Phosphate company controlled by the Moroccan state, university graduates and high diplomas holders as well as the other Sahrawi groups calling for their rights for work and organisation.

-The Sahrawi victims of landmines are still being neglected by the Moroccan authorities and the landmines still continue to kill the Sahrawi nomads on a daily basis.

-The CODESA and the other Sahrawi human rights organisations are still denied the right to organise their constitutive assembly and get their legal documents in order to work publicly.

In this context, the Collective of the Sahrawi Human Rights Defenders based in El Aaiun, Western Sahara

1. expresses its unconditioned solidarity with the victims of human rights abuses worldwide in general and in the Western Sahara in particular.

2.calls the Moroccan state to start a fair and transparent investigation in the murder of the two Sahrawi students, Elhoucine Lektief and Baba Khaya on December 01st, 2008 in Agadir, Morocco.

3. expresses its great concern about the intensifying of the human rights abuses by the Moroccan state against the Sahrawis (Sultana Khaya lost her eye while being tortured in a police van in Marrakesh, Morocco, Elouali Qadimi is still completely paralysed after being thrown from the fourth floor by the Moroccan police at a violent intervention against the Sahrawi students in Marrakech university campus).

4. charges the Moroccan state for the death of the Sahrawi students Baba Khaya and Elhoucine Lektief December 2008, and the other Sahrawis, Dadda Ali Hamma Ennafaa in July 2008 in Ait Mellou Prison, Sidha Abdelaziz in September 2007, Hamdi Lembarki in El Aaiun, on October30th, 2005, Abba Chaikh Lekhlifi in Tantan on December 03rd, 2005, Laamar Sidi Brahim, Mohamed Sidi Brahim and Taleb Sidi Menna murdered by a military lorry on the way to Dakhla, Western Sahara and the three Sahrawi common law prisoners Mohamed Boussetta, Ramdan Ellaithi and Hassan Haddi in 2004 and Slaiman Chwihi in 2004.

-calls all the international human rights organisations and associations to exert pressure on Morocco to respect the Sahrawis right to free expression, assembly peaceful protest and access to their passports and to disclose the fate of the Sahrawi disappeared.

The Executive Board of the CODESA,

El Aaiun, Western Sahara,

December 10th, 2008.

L’Envoyé spécial du président de la République reçu par la secrétaire des relations extérieures de la Surinam

Paramaribo (Surinam), Le ministre délégué auprès du MAE chargé de l’Afrique, Mohamed Yeslem Beissat a été reçu mardi par la secrétaire des relations extérieures de la République du Surinam, Jin Irland Manho, qui lui a remis une lettre du président Mohamed Abdelaziz à son homologue, Rollando Ronald.

L’entretien a porté sur les relations bilatérales et les questions d’intérêts communs. Il a été également l’occasion pour la secrétaire des relations extérieures de la République du Surinam, Jin Irland Manho de réitérer la position de solidarité et de soutien de son pays en faveur de la lutte du peuple sahraoui.

La République de Surinam avait reconnu la République sahraouie en 1979 et depuis cette date les deux pays maintiennent d’excellentes relations, rappelle-t-on.

Le statu quo au Sahara occidental ne sert personne (diplomate sahraoui)

Bruxelles, Le statu quo au Sahara occidental ne sert personne et peut même menacer la paix actuelle, en raison de la frustration que ressent le peuple sahraoui, a souligné le représentant du Front Polisario à Bruxelles, M. Jamal Zakari.

"Cela fait plus que 17 ans que nous attendons que la communauté internationale parvienne à imposer au Maroc la tenue du référendum sur l’autodétermination du peuple sahraoui, qui a été reporté 29 fois", a rappelé M . Zakari, lors d’une conférence, organisée mardi soir, par les amis du "Monde diplomatique" de Belgique, sous l’intitulé "Le conflit oublié du Sahara Occidental".

Il a, d’autre part, insisté sur la situation de détresse dans laquelle vivent actuellement les populations sahraouies "oubliées", situation qui a, d’ailleurs, été présentée aux participants à la conférence dans un documentaire réalisé par l’ONG internationale Oxfam, dans les camps de réfugiés sahraouis et dans les territoires libérés.

Pour le diplomate Sahraoui, "parler d’un conflit presque oublié", peut aider et faire avancer les choses". "Nous sommes oubliés dans le désert depuis le 6 septembre 1991, date de la signature du cessez le feu entre le Front Polisario et le Maroc, mais il ne faut pas oublier que le conflit date lui depuis plus de 33 ans, et que les souffrances de ce peuple ont commencé à ce moment là", a-t-il encore rappelé.

"Le processus de paix est au point mort, et nous demandons à tous ceux qui sont disposés à nous aider d’essayer de faire réveiller la communauté internationale avant que ça ne soit trop tard, et avant que le feu ne reprenne", avertit t-il, avant d’ajouter que "la guerre c’est la plus mauvaise chose à envisager, et le pire qui puisse arriver c’est de la reprendre".

Il a aussi regretté les tergiversations des autorités marocaines qui ne font que retarder la reprise des négociations entre les deux parties, pour empêcher l´organisation du référendum d´autodétermination du peuple sahraoui.

Le Maroc bloque également la nomination du représentant personnel au Sahara occidental, après la fin de mandat, non renouvelé, de Peter Van Walsum, a-t-il encore regretté.

Pour mieux éclairer l’auditoire sur la situation actuelle, M. Zakari a énuméré toutes les concessions déjà faites par le Front Polisario pour aller dans le sens d’une solution consensuelle.

Il a indiqué que le Front Polisario a présenté à l’ONU une proposition de solution basée sur le référendum d’autodétermination incluant en plus de l´option indépendance les deux autres options marocaines d´autonomie et d’intégration.

"Les autorités Sahraouis ont également donné des preuves de leur bonne volonté et des assurances à leur voisin le Maroc qu’elles sont prêtes à discuter et même en chiffre sur la question des richesses sahraouies", qui sont, selon lui, les raisons réelles au centre de ce conflit.

A ceux qui s’inquiétaient au sujet de l’inaction de l’Union européenne, il affirmera que l’UE a les moyens de faire pression sur la Maroc, mais qu’elle ne les utilisent pas.

"Nous estimons que l’UE a les moyens de faire pression sur le Maroc, mais qu’elle ne les utilisent pas. Nous estimons aussi qu’elle devrait lui faire comprendre que la guerre et que le statu quo ne peuvent avoir que des conséquences négatives pour les deux parties".

"Ce que nous exigeons, du moins, c’est que le Sahara occidental ne soit pas intégré dans les nouveaux accords bilatéraux, dont celui du "statut avancé" accordé récemment par l’UE au Maroc", a-t-il conclu.

Le Prix International des droits de l'homme de Pola de Siero (Asturies) remis à un militant sahraoui des droits de l'homme

Madrid, Le militant sahraoui des droits de l'homme, Hmad Ali Hammad, a reçu le Prix international des droits de l'homme 2008 décerné par la municipalité de la ville de Pola de Siero (Asturies, Nord-Ouest de l'Espagne) au Comité Sahraoui de soutien à l'autodétermination du peuple sahraoui, dont il est le vice-président.

La remise de ce prix, qui coïncide avec la célébration du 60 ème anniversaire de la Déclaration universelle des droits de l'homme, s'est déroulée en présence de plusieurs responsables locaux de la ville de Pola de Siero, de militants de droits de l'homme et de représentants d’associations de soutien au peuple sahraoui.

A cette occasion, Hammad qui a subi lui-même la torture et l'emprisonnement à plusieurs reprises dans les geôles marocaines, a remercié de nombreuses organisations pour leur soutien à la cause sahraouie, à travers le Prix international des droits de l'homme "qui signifie beaucoup de choses pour nous et qui montre que notre voix a été écoutée", a-t-il déclaré.

Il a dénoncé, en outre, le Maroc qui "viole les droits de l'homme depuis plus de 30 ans" dans les territoires sahraouis occupés, rappelant à cet égard que plus de 500 sahraouis sont portés disparus, que des familles entières ont été enterrées vivantes, soulignant l'usage de bombardements au napalm et au phosphore contre les populations civiles sahraouies", ainsi que l'assassinat récent de deux étudiants sahraouis à Agadir (Maroc).

Pour le militant sahraoui, le "Maroc poursuit sa politique d'extermination" dans les territoires sahraouis occupés, et l'Espagne "collabore avec lui en lui fournissant des armes et décore ses soldats qui ont participé au génocide du peuple sahraoui".

Le peuple sahraoui "vit depuis 30 ans des souffrances, l'extermination et les tortures devant la passivité du gouvernement espagnol qui l'a trahi pour un accord tripartite signé avec le Maroc et la Mauritanie", a-t-il conclu.