The Western Sahara Campaign UK (WSC-UK) sent a letter, yesterday, to the Saharawi Journalists’ and Writers’ Union (UPES) affirming support to the campaign run by the union for the release of Mustapha Abd Daiem.
Mustapha Abd Daiem, journalist and short-stories writer member of UPES, was arrested on October 2008, sentenced to 3 years imprisonment and more than 6000 fine in addition to 10 years ban from public employment, because of his political opinion and support to the independence of Western Sahara.
UPES initiated a campaign in favor of the release of the prisoner of conscience, sent an open letter to international human rights organizations, and so far received a clear reaction and support from Amnesty International, Japanese Journalists for Western Sahara and the Western Sahara Campaign UK.
Here is the letter UPES received from Mr. John Gurr, Coordinator WSC-UK on the subject:
17 January 2009
Mr. Malainin Lakhal
Saharawi Refugee camps
The Western Sahara Campaign UK would like to express its support for your campaign for Mustapha Abd Daiem.
We are aware that Mustafa Abd Daiem, human rights activist, journalist and member of the Assa-Zag Branch of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights and the Sahrawi Journalists’ and Writers’ Union is currently serving a 3 year prison sentence in Ait Meloul prison in Morocco, having been transferred there from Inzegan prison. We understand his trial did not meet international standards and believe he was sentenced following an unfair trial.
Mustapha was sentenced 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.
For this he was sentenced on the 4 November 2008 to 3 years imprisonment, a 50.000 Moroccan dr fine and a 10 year ban from public employment by the Moroccan colonial court.
We believe Mustapha’s trial did not meet international legal standards. We are aware that Mustapha claims his trial was based on falsified statements made when he was in custody, and he was denied his right to be defended by legal counsel. Furthermore we understand that none of his lawyers were summoned to the appeal hearings.
We feel it is likely that Mustapha’s treatment is in response to his belief in Saharawi independence and support for the POLISARIO Front.
The campaign is aware of other examples of unfair trials and is greatly concerned about the human rights situation in the occupied territory of Western Sahara. We know that human rights abuses including torture, restriction of freedom of expression and unfair trials are not uncommon, and serve as punishment for those Saharawis who publicly express opposition to the Moroccan occupation.
For these reasons The Western Sahara Campaign supports the campaign run by UPES for the release of Mustapha Abd Daiem.
John Gurr, Coordinator WSC UK