In a letter to Ms. Sarah Leah Whitson, director for the Middle East and North Africa for Human Rights Watch in Washington, DC, AFAPRDESA gave the international organisation a brief summary about the serious human rights situation in Western Sahara and the special cases of the Saharawi prisoners of conscience in Moroccan prisons.
On the other hand, the President of AFAPRDESA, Mr. Abdeslam Omar Lahsen, sent another letter to Mrs. Irene Khan, Amnesty International Secretary General, about the same subject.
AFAPREDESA called on Amnesty International “to do everything possible to bring the Moroccan authorities to interact positively with international law and international humanitarian law and do your utmost to save these human lives”.
Here is the complete text of the two letters sent today by AFAPRDESA to HRW and AI:
Ms. Sarah Leah Whitson,
director for the Middle East and North Africa for Human Rights Watch Washington, DC
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
I would like to inform you regarding the seriously deteriorating situation of human rights in the occupied territories of the Western Sahara by Morocco as a result of the grave violations and inhumane practices of the occupying Moroccan authorities and dangerous behaviour contrary to all conventions and to International Law on Human Rights.
Indeed, from the beginning of its military invasion and occupation of the territory of the Western Sahara on October 31, 1975, Morocco has paid only lip service to International Law while using sheer force against the defenceless, peaceful and isolated populations of the occupied territories. Since then, Morocco continues to resort to violent, arbitrary and systematic policies to crash the will of the Sahrawi people, despite the peaceful methods used by these populations to assert their legitimate and basic rights.
Since 21 May 2005, peaceful demonstrations calling for the respect and the implementation of the United Nations and the Security Council resolutions and demanding the inalienable right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination have been met by violent repression for which the Moroccan officials are held directly responsible. The chain of command goes unbroken from the King to local officials, the police and security and administration officials on into the ground. All those forces, various forces of police, gendarmes, security, the special forces, and the so called “Croatian forces” and even the army have been directly involved in the intimidation, arrest and torture in the aftermath of the daily confrontations with the peaceful demonstrations and the sit ins and other peaceful exercises, strikes and the hunger strikes organized by the Sahrawi civil society.
Over the years, the constant deterioration of human rights in the Western Sahara has been reported again and again by many human right organizations and specialized agencies that have been allowed to visit the territories such as Human Right Watch. These reports have not barred the Moroccan occupied authorities from pursuing flagrant violations of these same basic human rights and continue paying lip service to the different call for the respect of human rights in the territories.
I would like to bring to your attention the particularly aggravating deterioration of the health of a group of Sahrawi political prisoners, who have started hunger strike February 13, 2009, in order to draw the attention to the urgent need for the implementation of international legality on the question of the Western Sahara and to address their particular conditions of detention by the Moroccan authorities in jail where the minimum norms and conventions to ensure the protection of human dignity is lacking and ignored. This is the case of Brahim Beryaz, Khalihenna Abu El Hassan and Ali Salem Belar.
It is also the case for another group of detainees that have started hunger strike in the Moroccan notorious jail of El Aaiun, called the Black Jail, in order to promote the implementation of the Sahrawi people right to self-determination in conformity with the United Nations decisions, while expressing solidarity with the detainees in the Bulmhazem Jail in Marrakech. Among them are Bechri Ben Taleb, Ahemdat Ahmed Salem and El Gasmi Mohamed Lahbib.
We call upon you -- since your organization has gained its reputation in the defence of human rights worldwide, to intervene immediately in order to prevent the unfolding human tragedy resulting from the persistent of the Moroccan authorities in their savage repression while ignoring the basic rights of those political prisoners on hunger strike. We call on your high moral authority to do everything possible to bring the Moroccan authorities to interact positively with international law and international humanitarian law.
In conclusion, I would like to express to you our utmost respect and esteem for the dedicated work your organization has done in the defence of human rights.
Accept dear Madame, the expression of my highest respect.
Abdeslam Omar Lahsen
President of AFAPREDESA
Mrs. Irene Khan
Amnesty International Secretary General
April 02, 2009
Mrs. Irene Khan
Amnesty International Secretary General
Amnesty International UK
The Human Rights Action Centre
17-25 New Inn Yard
London EC2A 3EA
Phone +44 (0) 20 7033 1500
Fax +44 (0) 20 7033 1503
Textphone +44 (0) 20 7033 1664
Dear Mrs. Secretary General,
You are for sure aware that the Moroccan authorities continue unabated their serious violations of human rights, whether in the occupied territories of the Western Sahara, in the south of Morocco or in the Moroccan universities where the Sahrawi students pursue their education.
I would like in particular to draw you attention on the uninterrupted violation of human rights and the deterioration of the humanitarian situation of the Sahrawi peaceful activists as a result of the Moroccan persistent and systematic repression. Morocco continues to ignore international Law and international humanitarian law, as well as the decisions and resolutions of the international community. Not only did the Moroccan government put in place a military and information blockade around the territory in order to suppress and intimidate the Sahrawi activists from demanding their legitimate rights and respect for their dignity but goes on to persecute them in their work places, in their homes, and campuses, as it is the case for the students in the Moroccan Universities.
On April 13, 2008, Khalihenna Abu el Hassan, who is studying in Marrakech, was kidnapped at 4 am at the bus station by Moroccan security agents with plain clothes. At the same station, he was subjected to all kind of torture, and then he was taken to the police local headquarters, where they continued his interrogation. The police sought to fabricate an accusation against him when the real reason of his arrest and detention was his political convictions and namely his participation with others activists to call through peaceful means for the respect of the Sahrawi people to self determination and the respect of basic humanitarian rights and for the immediate release of the political prisoners.
The Moroccan authorities arrested also Ali Salem Belar and Ibrahim Bryaz because they have persisted to call and take action for the same demands. They have protested against the difficult conditions inside the jail and to shed light on the inhumane practices of the Moroccan authorities with no respect to human dignity. On February 13, 2009, they have started hunger strike calling for the recognition of their status as political prisoners. The hunger strike continued nonstop for the last forty-seven days.
The condition of these activists on hunger strike has come to a dangerous crossroad. Their struggle has been rendered even more difficult, affecting seriously their health. Their precarious health has shown aggravating symptoms such as the vomiting of blood, and strong pain felt at the level of the kidneys, the stomach and the joins, and at the level of the intestines, while entering in continuous dizziness and losing of consciousness (coma), rendering their movement very painful and difficult. As a result Ibrahim Beryaz was taken urgently on March 30, 2009 to the nearby hospital of the town.
Despite the deteriorating situation and health of the detainees, the Moroccan authorities refused to intervene or to investigate or review their conditions of detention and overall situation. The Moroccan authorities continue to defy international humanitarian law and violate human and individual rights and basic liberties of the Sahrawi citizens.
We would like to draw your attention on other violations which are unprecedented by the Moroccan repressive authorities against our innocent and peaceful citizens on hunger strike in the Moroccan Black Jail in El Aiun, capital of the territory for over 8 days, since Tuesday March 24, 2009. Their health is badly deteriorating, including that of Bechri Ben Taleb, who is hurting at the level of the stomach and the head, Hamdati Ahmed Salem, who feels strong fatigue, and pains at the level of the intestines, while Gasmi Mohamed Lahbib is suffering strong pains at the level of the stomach and the head.
Those Sahrawi activists are only protesting in a peaceful manner against the inhuman condition of their detention. The Moroccan jailing authorities have no respect for the international norms and conventions that should be observed in jail in conformity with international humanitarian law. They are calling on the Moroccan authorities to grant them a status of political prisoners, and for their immediate release. They have committed no crime other than they are Sahrawis citizens and want to be recognized as such, while they are calling for the respect and the implementation of the Sahrawi people right to self determination in line with United Nations resolutions.
We call upon you, since your organization has gained its reputation in the defense of human rights worldwide, to intervene immediately in order to prevent further deterioration of human rights that could result in a tragedy shaped by the stubbornness of the Moroccan authorities in their savage repression while ignoring basic rights of those political prisoners. We are making this call to your consciousness to do everything possible to bring the Moroccan authorities to interact positively with international law and international humanitarian law and do your utmost to save these human lives. The Moroccan government is alone entirely responsible for the health and the fate of these political prisoners on hunger strike. They alone are responsible for the deterioration of human rights and of the aggravating situation in Western Sahara.
Please do accept the expression of our high esteem.
Abdeslam Omar Lahsen
President of AFAPREDESA.