sexta-feira, 17 de abril de 2009

President of SADR meets with delegation of Basque youth after week-long exchange with Saharawis

Five young activists from the Basque region of Spain were received by President Muhamed Abdelaziz in the headquarters of the executive branch of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) on Thursday.

The group, which included students and graduates who had been involved in the Western Sahara for over 10 years, had helped to organize a week-long youth encounter between Basque and Saharawi youth, which primarily took place in the refugee camp of Ausserd.

After inquiring about the health and well-being of the 74 Basque visitors, the soft-spoken President Abdelaziz began the meeting with a heartfelt thank you to the young activists, but his comments quickly took on a political tone.

"First of all, I want to thank you for all of the support you have given to the Saharawi youth," said the President. "Your solidarity means the world to them and to all of us.

"As you know, ours is a political conflict that is based around four objectives: first and foremost, the organization of a free and transparent referendum that includes the option of independence; second, the cessation of human rights violations in the occupied Western Sahara; third, the destruction of the Moroccan wall that divides the Western Sahara and its people; and fourth, the end of the illegal exploitation of the natural resources of our country by Morocco."

After detailing the intricacies of the current conflict under international law, the President did not hesitate to pass around the room, pouring glasses of water for his international and Saharawi guests, which included Muhamed Sidati, the SADR foreign minister to Europe, and Musa Selma, secretary general of the Saharawi Youth Union (UJSARIO).

Through fire and flames

Next the floor was taken by the young Basque organizers. The activists detailed the events and conclusions drawn from their five days of conferences, workshops and visits for the President, who listened attentively as they expressed their commitment to the Saharawi young people, the movement for independence and the Polisario Front – the leaders of the Saharawi movement.

"Tomorrow is the last day of our trip," said one of the young activists, "but it is not the end of this exchange – it is only the beginning. We will continue the fight with you. The important thing now is that we return to our own country and put into motion all the ideas that have been floating around all week."

Another one of the organizers, Alfred, has been involved with the Saharawi cause since the late 1990s. After detailing some of the protests, hunger strikes and meetings with the Spanish government that he and other young Basques had undertaken in the past decade, he talked about the reality he has seen in his many visits to the Saharawi camps.

"Every time I visit the camps," said the young Basque, "everybody asks me if I like it here. Of course I don’t like it here. This is a living hell that is not fit for any human being. But what I do like are the people here, especially your hope and happiness in the face of difficult odds."

The kids are alright

Before the meeting concluded, President Abdelaziz spoke on the role of the Saharawi youth within the movement for independence.

"The young Saharawis are of utmost importance for the success of our movement," insisted the President. "It is the youth who have staged the peaceful protests in the Occupied Territories; it is the youth who continue to resist the human rights violations by Morocco; and it is the youth who are responsible for the success of these temporary camps.

"We in the Polisario Front have been taking extra steps to make sure that both the youth and women are appropriately represented in all of our institutions. The Saharawi young people are the Saharawi movement."

Final days

The meeting with the President of the SADR was the last organized event of the six-day visit to the Saharawi refugee camps. While the five Basque organizers were meeting with the President, the other 69 Basques and their dozens of Saharawi counterparts were taking part in a trip to the dunes outside of the refugee camp of Ausserd.

On Friday, the leaders of the youth exchange will unite to publish a final declaration concerning their activities in Ausserd, their conclusions drawn from the workshops and their plans for continuing to work together in the future.

The Basque youth will be heading back to their own country on Friday night, after a final day of free time to be spent with newfound friends and families.

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