domingo, 14 de junho de 2009

Mohamed Abdelaziz’s letter to Gordon Brown (complete text)

The President of the Republic, Mohamed Abdelaziz sent a letter to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Gordon Brown, asking the UK to put pressures on Morocco to respect the Saharawi people’s right to self-determination.

Here is the complete text of the letter:

His Excellency Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown MP,
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
10 Downing Street
London, SW1A 2AA

Bir Lehlou, 11 June 2009

Right Honourable Prime Minister,

It gives me immense pleasure and honour in writing to you about the latest developments of the long-running conflict in Africa’s last colony, Western Sahara.

As your Excellency is aware, Western Sahara remains the only African Non-Self-Governing Territory on the agenda of the Special Committee of 24 and the General Assembly whose resolutions have consistently affirmed the inalienable right of the Saharawi people to self-determination, and the need for its exercise through a free and fair referendum. Yet the decolonisation process of Western Sahara was dramatically disrupted owing to Morocco’s illegal invasion and occupation of the Territory in 1975 in violation of UN resolutions and the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice.

Your Excellency is also aware of the tremendous efforts that the United Nations have been deploying to bring the decolonisation process of Western Sahara to conclusion, including the OAU-UN Settlement Plan that was accepted by the two parties, the Frente POLISARIO and Morocco, in August 1988, and adopted by the Security Council resolutions 658 (1990) and 690 (1991).

The objective of this peace plan was to hold a free and fair referendum under the UN supervision where the Saharawi people could exercise their right to self-determination choosing between independence and integration into Morocco. Nonetheless, the referendum has not yet taken place due to Morocco’s obstructionist attitude and its rejection of any solution that would not ensure, from the outset, its illegal occupation of Western Sahara . Its “proposal of autonomy”, presented in 2007, epitomises this volte-face, which is a clear violation of Morocco’s own prior commitments and UN resolutions regarding a question of decolonisation.

To overcome the deadlock created by Morocco, the Frente POLISARIO presented to the UN, on 10 April 2007, a proposal for solution that is based on two pillars: First, the need for the referendum on self-determination that would include the options that have already been accepted by the two parties and endorsed by the Security Council. Second, if the referendum would lead to the independence of Western Sahara, the Frente POLISARIO will be willing to negotiate with Morocco the establishment of privileged and strategic relations between the two sovereign countries in all vital domains.

Following Morocco’s rejection of the self-determination referendum, the Security Council, via its resolution 1754 of 30 April 2007, called on the two parties to engage in direct negotiations in good faith and without precondition. All subsequent resolutions of the Security Council have reaffirmed that the ultimate goal of the negotiations would be “a lasting, just and mutually acceptable political solution which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara ”. The Council’s latest resolution 1871 of 30 April 2009 also affirmed this position and stressed the importance of making progress on the human dimension of the conflict.

Direct negotiations between Morocco and the Frente POLISARIO began in Manhasset, New York , in June 2007. After four rounds of talks, it became very clear that Morocco was unwilling to abide by the terms of Security Council resolutions, and to engage in negotiations without preconditions. Morocco came to the negotiation table not to negotiate but to dictate that its “proposal of autonomy” be the only basis for talks. Moreover, it rejected the constructive Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs) that were proposed by the UN with a view to creating a positive climate between the two parties.

The Frente POLISARIO came to all rounds of negotiations encouraged by the same sense of responsibility and good faith with which it had participated in the preceding processes of negotiation initiated by Mr. James Baker III. It cooperated fully with the UN in the discussion of all issues during the negotiations and accepted the whole package of CBMs.

Morocco’s position has not substantially changed. It still conditions the resumption of negotiations on accepting its own proposal whose aim, apart from putting aside all the achievements made so far by the UN to settle the conflict, is to gain recognition by the international community of its colonial fait-accompli in Western Sahara.

In the meantime, Morocco continues to pursue a policy of systematic violation of human rights in the territories under its occupation, which have dramatically intensified since the beginning of the peaceful uprising in Western Sahara in May 2005. Many of Saharawi activists have been detained, tortured and even murdered. The occupied territories remain under a military siege and an unprecedented media blackout.

There are numerous reports by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the report of ad hoc delegation of European Parliament so is the report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, inter alia, that document these gross human rights violations against the Saharawi population in the occupied territories

The Frente POLISARIO considers that the respect for and protection of human rights are sacred obligations and a general rule that admits no exceptions. Western Sahara is a territory pending decolonisation and is now under the responsibility of the United Nations. It is unacceptable that the UN mission in the Territory (MINURSO) is still the only UN mission that does not have any human rights monitoring component. The Frente POLISARIO also considers that respect for human rights in Western Sahara and making progress on the human dimension of the conflict are not only an obligation but also a crucial step towards creating a much-needed climate of confidence between the two parties.

The Moroccan authorities have also been engaged in the illegal and massive exploitation of the natural resources of Western Sahara in violation of the right of its own people to have a permanent sovereignty over its resources.

As another step in its defiant policy towards the international community, the Moroccan Government intends to organise local elections, on 12 June 2009, which will extend to the territory of Western Sahara, over which Morocco does not exercise any sovereignty. This is yet another provocative move that demonstrates Morocco ’s bad faith and its determination to perpetuate its colonial fait accompli in defiance of international legality and UN resolutions.

Morocco’s reneging on its commitments to the UN peace process, its violation of human rights and plundering of the natural resources of a Non-Self-Governing Territory are all transgressions that should make democratic countries all over the world reconsider their bilateral relations with this country. The European Union should thus re-examine its association agreement with Morocco as well as the advanced status membership to be granted to this country.

Right Honourable Prime Minister,

The United Kingdom, as a permanent member of the Security Council, shoulders a major responsibility for maintaining peace and security in the world. The UK Government has always supported the efforts of the United Nations to reach a peaceful, just and lasting solution that would provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. We hope that the UK would engage more actively in supporting the UN efforts and in employing its leverage to exert pressure on Morocco to engage in substantive negotiations in the context of Security Council resolutions and the principle of self-determination.

The violations of human rights, which are perpetrated systematically by Morocco in the Saharawi occupied territories, cannot be separated from the overall peace process. Ensuring respect for human rights in Western Sahara is not only a prerequisite for a purposeful negotiation process, but also a moral obligation on all members of the international system. It is also our hope that the UK will work actively at the Security Council and other fore for establishing a mechanism for protection and monitoring of human rights in Western Sahara pending the definitive settlement of the conflict.

Please accept, Right Honourable Prime Minister, the assurances of my highest consideration.

Mohamed Abdelaziz,
President of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic
Secretary-General of the Frente POLISARIO

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