sexta-feira, 6 de março de 2009

Western Sahara awareness week at Mount Holyoke College

Saharawi student, Senia receiving awards from her College in US last February

The Western Sahara Project, a student initiative at Mount Holyoke College (US), will organize an awareness week on Western Sahara from March the 9th to 11th.

The organisers will host two speakers, Carlos Gonzalez, L.A.-based film director, and Stephen Zunes, professor of Politics and International Relations at the University of San Francisco, and Chair of the program in Middle Eastern Studies, who will present, on Monday 9th and Tuesday 10th respectively, lectures about the conflict.

On the other hand, three acapella groups from Smith, Mt. Holyoke and Amherst College, will perform, in the final show on Wednesday (11th), a concert as part of a fundraising effort for a library that will be created in the Saharawi refugee camps. The Library building project is engineered by Mt Holyoke students Senia Bachir-Abderahman and Nina Nedrebo.

Senia Bachir-Abderahman was awarded, last February, three prizes at the Mount Holyoke Student Awards Ceremony for her work in promoting the Saharawi cause.

The awards included the Kelly Sotille Award for Community Service, the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives Global Engagement Award and the Weissman Center for Leadership Award for Excellence.

Senia hopes, above all, the Saharawi cause will become known to people that can do something to prevent oppression and limitation of the rights of the Saharawis in the occupied territories of Western Sahara.

Carlos Gonzalez will present a talk and film screening of his own documentary called “Children of the Clouds,” about the human rights situation in the occupied territories of Western Sahara, on March 9, 2009, 7-8.30 pm, Cleveland L-3, Mount Holyoke College.

In the past few years, many Saharawis especially youth and students have been subject to systematic human rights violations committed by the Moroccan authorities simply because they demanded a basic human right; self-determination. Unfortunately, very few people have been able to cover the actual situation as reporters and González is one of the few.

While in El Aaiun, the capital city of Western Sahara, Conzález was detained and interrogated for eight hours by the Moroccan police once they found cameras in his possession. (see

On his side, Stephen Zunes is a professor of Politics and International Relations at the University of San Francisco where he chairs the program in Middle Eastern Studies. He will present a lecture about Western Sahara’s occupation under Morocco, and the thirty-five year conflict that has called International Law, its legitimacy, and its global value into serious question.

Principal editor of Nonviolent Social Movements Blackwell Publishers, 1999), the author of the highly-acclaimed Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism (Common Courage Press, 2003), he has a forthcoming book on the topic, Western Sahara: Nationalism, Conflict, and International Accountability (co-author with Jacob Mundy). A recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship on Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies at Dartmouth College and a Human Rights Fellowship at the Center for Law and Global Justice at the University of San Francisco, Dr. Zunes has made frequent visits to the Middle East and other conflict regions, where he has met with top government officials, academics, journalists and opposition leaders. (For more information, see

As part of the awareness of Western Sahara week in March special project, Amherst’s Route 9, Smith’s Vibes, and Mount Holyoke’s V8s will perform an a capella. The event will be priced at 2 dollars, to fundraise for a library building project in a largely neglected refugee camp in South-West Algeria, where there are hundreds of thousands of refugees waiting for the country of Western Sahara to be granted its independence.

Events are sponsored by the Weissman Center for Leadership, the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives, the MHC History Department, the UMass History Department, V8s, Youth Action International, Amnesty International, the Five College Program in Peace and World Security Studies, and the Five College Program in African Studies.

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