The nine organisations sent a letter to the members of the European Parliament’s ad-hoc delegation that visited the occupied capital of Western Sahara, El Aaiun, last Tuesday 27 January.
Members of the nine organisations, it should be recalled, were intimidated, harassed or even arrested by the Moroccan police, which was sealing the residence where the European delegation was seating, before they finally could meet with the European parliamentarians.
Here is the complete text of the letter
27 January 2009
Saharawi human rights organisations and committees
Letter for the distinguished members of the mission of the European Parliament visit to Morocco and Western Sahara
The Sahrawi associations active in the field of human rights are honoured to send you this letter, through which they wish to express, first of all, welcome and to express the immense joy to take part in this meeting that we have long awaited.
Also, we take this opportunity to share with you our deep concern at the continuing violations of human rights in Western Sahara, with very serious abuses against the Sahrawi civilians in general and the Sahrawi human rights defenders in particular. This is, of course, the result of a political and military conflict that has lasted more than three decades during which it contributed to the climate of frustration that has further increased the suffering of a population which is the victim of all forms of discrimination and humiliations and that is deprived of its right to respect and human dignity.
The Sahrawi associations are aware of the importance of the European Union and its institutions as a force of stability and cooperation in the world that can help reduce all forms of injustice and spread an atmosphere of peace and security beyond its borders.
To this end, we urge the European Parliament and, through it the European Union, to play a central role in the solution of the conflict in Western Sahara, in conformity with international law and multiple UN resolutions that call for respect for the inalienable right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination through the holding of a free and democratic referendum allowing the people to freely choose their future.
A lasting solution to the conflict in Western Sahara, based on international law will undoubtedly contribute to paving the way to building a Maghreb that rejects exclusion and denial of rights and which is united, reconciled, stable and prosperous. Europe, which maintains close ties with Morocco, should put pressure on it to comply with international law by accepting the holding of a referendum of self-determination of the Sahrawi people as soon as possible.
Since the issue of resources is a particular aspect of the very important but more general problem of the right of peoples to self-determination and to decide their wealth, we believe that the fisheries agreement signed between Europe and Morocco, including the territorial waters of Western Sahara was contrary to international law in that it does not recognize the legal status of Western Sahara.
The legal opinion of the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs of the United Nations, in his letter of 29 January 2002 addressed to the President of the Security Council, has rightly highlighted the non-self-governing status of the territory of Western Sahara, which remains since 1963 on the list UN Non-Self-Governing Territories. If we look at all the UN resolutions and Article 73 of the Charter of the United Nations, we can easily see that it has developed rules governing the preservation of natural resources in non-self-governing territories, rules that must also be respected in Western Sahara.
Also, it is worth noting that the fishing accord between Morocco and the European Union contains a paragraph on arrangements to bring benefits to the Saharawi population with the aim, obviously, to give some sort of legitimacy to that Agreement! This population has not received any benefit when there is no mechanism to implement it or guarantee its implementation.
We undersigned Sahrawi associations, active in the field of human rights, hope that the mission of the European Parliament paves the way to a new era, which hopefully will be marked by continued strong links and contacts, and a productive partnership between the EU and the Sahrawi associations active in the field of human rights, but we also hope that Europe will contributes to the solution of the conflict in Western Sahara on the basis of a free and democratic referendum enabling its people to freely choose their destiny.
The Sahrawi associations signatories:
- Sahrawi Association of Victims of Grave Human Rights Violations Committed by the Moroccan State (ASVDH)
- Defence Committee for the Right of Self-Determination of the People of Western Sahara (CODAPSO)
- The Sahrawi Prisoners Defence Alliance
- The Saharawi Committee for the Defence of Human Rights in Smara / Western Sahara
- The Defense Committee for the Settlement Plan and Natural Resources in Western Sahara
- The Committee of Families of Disappeared Sahrawis
- The Committee of the Families and Mothers of the Abducted 15 Youths
- The Committee Against Torture in Dakhla / Sahara Occidental
- The Committee of the Families of the Matyres
El Aaiun, on 27 January 2009