quarta-feira, 15 de abril de 2009

Polisario Front asks UN Security Council to take on greater responsibility

In a letter addressed to the President of the United Nations Security Council, Ahmed Boukhari, the representative of the Polisario Front to the UN, refuted Moroccan claims of a Saharawi violation of the 1991 ceasefire and called for the international organization to expand the mandate of the UN Mission for a Referendum in the Western Sahara (MINURSO) and ensure that Morocco comes to the negotiating table with an open mind.

Boukhari s letter was written on behalf of the Polisario Front in response to a statement released by the minister of foreign affairs and the minister of the interior of the Kingdom of Morocco on Friday following a peaceful protest march in the desert.

The ministries of the Moroccan Kingdom released a statement falsely accusing the protestors of possessing weapons and firing shots into the air. The statement accused the Polisario Front of breaking the 1991 ceasefire – which was signed between the Moroccan monarchy and Polisario under the authority of the UN and the African Union (AU) – and requested that the UN take action against the Saharawis.

The protest, known as the International March against the Wall of Shame, was arranged by the National Union of Saharawi Women (UNMS), the Saharawi Youth Union (UJSARIO) and a group of Spanish students known as Consciencia Saharaui, or Saharawi Conscience. Over 2,000 international activists took part in the demonstration.

During the protest, a group of Saharawi youth approached the Moroccan-built wall that separates the Western Sahara in two. The young Saharawis tore up barbed wire fencing and hurled rocks towards the wall. Their approach ended in tragedy, however, when one of the demonstrators stepped on an anti-personnel landmine, losing his foot and injuring several others.

In Boukhari s letter (included below), the Polisario representative expresses his solidarity with the victims families, calls on the UN to protect human rights in the occupied territories of the Western Sahara and encourages the Security Council to pressure Morocco to de-mine and withdraw its troops from the Western Saharan territory.

New York
13 April 2009

Mr President,

Following official instructions, I have the honour to bring the following to your attention:

On 10 April, a peaceful demonstration took place before the military wall erected by Morocco in the very heart of our country, a symbol of what the General Assembly resolution 34/37 described as a “military occupation”, which gathered hundreds of human rights defenders, artists and intellectuals and representatives of both Sahrawi and international civil society groups. Several young Sahrawis were wounded as a result of the explosion of an antipersonnel mines planted by Morocco in the Territory and one of them has lost his foot.

The POLISARIO Front, which has expressed its sympathy and solidarity with the wounded and their families, considers that this tragic incident highlights the urgent need for Morocco to put at the disposal of the United Nations and European NGOs, such as Landmine Action, all the information available to detect, map and deactivate the mines in order to ensure that the lives of Sahrawi civil population and others as well as the huge flow of cattle that often roam the area are effectively protected from the risk created by the absence of sufficient demarcation of the fields that are believed to be infested with about 5 million antipersonnel landmines.

Contrary to the official and public allegations of Morocco, it was not a military activity or action. It was a huge peaceful demonstration carried out by Sahrawi civilians and foreigners who were neither armed nor equipped with any mine detectors and did not fire a single shot. International media were present there.

Morocco violates systematically human rights in Western Sahara and exploits illegally the natural resources of the Territory in which it does whatever she pleases under the protection of an illegal occupation that persists in blatant defiance of the resolutions of the General Assembly, the Security Council, the African Union and the Non-Aligned Movement.

Morocco is certainly in no good position to request the United Nations to shoulder any responsibility after it has sabotaged all efforts deployed by the Organisation throughout three decades, and particularly in relation to an incident that it has deliberately distorted to present it as a breach of the ceasefire.

The terms of the military agreements signed by the two parties with MINURSO are crystal clear, and it has been indicated in several reports of the Secretary-General that Morocco did not respect them, the same as it did not respect the terms of the main mandate that the Security Council gave, in its resolutions 650 (1990) and 680 (1991), to MINURSO to hold the self-determination referendum in Western Sahara, which is an inseparable element of the ceasefire currently in force.

Morocco should give better proofs to the international community that it is motivated by a sincere political will to cooperate with the United Nations in the just and lasting solution of the conflict created by its prolonged occupation of our country, instead of engaging in diversionary activities aimed at diverting the attention from what is essential.

Firstly, and given the urgency prompted by facts documented and evidenced by different international organisations, the decisive proof that cannot be postponed is to allow MINURSO to include in its mandate the issue of human rights in the Territory. If the two parties claim that they do not have anything to hide from the international community, this inclusion should not pose major difficulties and the Security Council would certainly give it its approval.

Secondly, to accept the political and military confidence-building measures that were proposed to the two parties during the negotiations held in Manhasset to help reduce the growing tension and to protect the innocent lives of civilian residents, illegal immigrants and visitors to the region from the mine-infested fields.

Lastly, to go to a possible resumption of the direct negotiations with an open spirit, in good faith and without pre-conditions that could affect the framework or the substance and objectives of the process of peaceful solution that was initiated within the ambit of resolution 1754 (2007).

I shall be grateful to you, Excellency, if you would bring the content of the present letter to the attention of the Members of the Security Council.

I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to you the assurances of my highest consideration.

Ahmed Boukhari
Representative of the POLISARIO Front

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