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WSC Newsletter May 2021

POLISARIO Holds UN Responsible | International Council for Saharawi Political Prisoner Sultana Khaya Condemns her Torture and Sexual Assault | Morocco Detains UK Citizen in Occupied Western Sahara | UN Confirms Widespread Violations Perpetrated by Morocco | Should Biden Endorse the Decision to Recognise Morocco's Sovereignty over WS | Reversing Course on Western Sahara Serves US National Interest | P for Plunder 2021
POLISARIO Holds UN Responsible
NEW YORK (UN) 13 May 2021 (SPS)

In a letter addressed to UN Secretary-General, Mr António Guterres, the Frente POLISARIO holds the United Nations responsible for the brutal violence and state terrorism pursued by the Moroccan occupying authorities against Sahrawi civilians.

“We energetically condemn the new wave of brutal violence and terror carried out by the Moroccan occupying state against our people in the occupied Western Sahara, and we hold the United Nations fully responsible for their protection and safety. The United Nations cannot stand by and watch as the Moroccan occupying state intensifies its terrorising and atrocious assaults on Sahrawi civilians and human rights activists in full view of the UN Mission in the Territory,” says the letter addressed yesterday to UN Secretary-General from Frente POLISARIO Representative at the United Nations, Dr Sidi M. Omar.

The letter described a series of grave abuses and violent attacks by the Moroccan occupying authorities against human rights activists and Sahrawi citizens over the past few days and weeks, calling on the United Nations to provide protection to Sahrawi civilians as part of its responsibility for the decolonisation of Western Sahara.

Read the letter here

On 29 April Dr Sidi Omar, POLISARIO's Representative at the United Nations, sent a letter to the Heads of Permanent Missions to the UN in which he refutes the allegations contained in recent letters circulated by Morocco's Permanent Mission to the United Nations and reported by Moroccan official media.

In particular, the letter addressed Morocco's allegations regarding its violation of the ceasefire on 13 November 2020, its obstruction so far of the appointment of a new personal envoy as well as its misleading propaganda aimed at covering up its systematic human rights violations in the occupied Territories of Western Sahara.

Read the letter here

International Council for Saharawi Political Prisoner Sultana Khaya Condemns her Torture and Sexual Assault
International human rights lawyer Jared Genser has joined the international legal team for Saharawi human rights defender Sultana Khaya. Khaya has been effectively held under house arrest by Moroccan authorities in Boujdour, Western Sahara since November 2020. During that time, she and others in her family home have been harassed, assaulted, and tortured.

As a prominent advocate for Western Sahara's right to self-determination and the end to violence against Saharawi women, Khaya has long been targeted by Moroccan authorities for her work. She has been beaten and tortured many times, including being beaten so badly by police during a peaceful demonstration in 2007 that she lost her right eye.

Moroccan security forces have been stationed outside her home since November 19, 2020, when she was first told that she would be arrested and tortured if she left. Since then, she has been detained under de facto house arrest with no legal justification. Moreover, in the past six months Moroccan forces have raided Khaya's home without a warrant, physically assaulted her, harassed her and other persons present in the home, thrown noxious substances into the house, cut off the electricity, threated to kill her, and denied her access to medical treatment for the injuries she has suffered. Her detention has been highlighted by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Frontline Defenders, among others.

The situation escalated abruptly over the past few days, seemingly as part of a broader crackdown on Sahrawi activists across the region. On May 10, police raided the Khaya home and removed three human rights activists who had been staying with the family. The police took the three activists into custody and tortured them for several hours before dumping them in a remote part of the desert. Then, during the night of May 11, Moroccan police again raided Khaya's home, brutally attacking and sexually assaulting her. Although she attempted to escape and seek help, the police dragged her back into the home and continued to beat her.

Jared Genser´s former clients include Liu Xiaobo, Vaclav Havel, Desmond Tutu & Elie Wiesel.

Read the press release here

Morocco Detains UK Citizen in Occupied Western Sahara
On 11 April 2021, the British citizen Mohamed Ajdefi was subjected to physical torture and arrested inside the headquarters of the Moroccan police commission in El-Aaiún. This had been preceded by officers enquiring as to the reasons for his brother, El-Zein Ajdefi, and his family being present at the police headquarters.
After interviewing the family of the British citizen and collecting evidence including legal and eyewitness testimonies of the circumstances of his arrest, Adala UK calls for an immediate and independent investigation into the human rights violations committed against Mohamed Ajdefi.

Read the report by Adala UK here

UN Confirms Widespread Violations Perpetrated by Morocco
In a joint communication sent to the Moroccan government, four special procedures of the Human Rights Council underline serious worries concerning a multitude of abuses committed against eight Saharawi human rights defenders, according to a communiqué of Geneva Support Group for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in Western Sahara.

In a strong reprimand to the Moroccan government, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, the Special Rapporteur on Torture and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention published a joint communication addressed to Morocco, expressing serious concerns on the human rights' violations committed against the Saharawi people in the occupied territories of Western Sahara, while focusing on the cases of eight victims.

The victims mentioned in the joint communication are well-known Saharawi activists of the occupied territory who lodged human rights complaints to the United Nations.

Should President Biden Endorse the Decision to Recognise Morocco's Sovereignty over WS
New York Bar Association online event, 15 April, 2021 . Panelists: Ambassador John Bolton, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations and Ambassador Christopher Ross, former Personal Envoy of the U.N. Secretary-General for Western Sahara (2009 to 2017).

View the YouTube discussion here

Reversing Course on Western Sahara Serves US National Interest
By Djaouida Siaci Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, March 29, 2021

The former Trump administration's persistent pattern of violating international law has put the United States on the same level as the rogue nations that subvert international consensus and the rules-based international order.
This pattern is most profound in former President Trump's last foreign policy act: a tweet in which he recognised Morocco's claim of alleged sovereignty over occupied Western Sahara (cont.)

Read the journal article here

P for Plunder 2021
In April WSRW published its 2020 annual overview of the companies involved in the purchase of occupied Western Sahara's conflict mineral: phosphates.

The report reveals that the trade to OCP's joint venture in India and to two farmer cooperatives in New Zealand remains relatively stable, representing 64% and 20,4% of the entire trade, respectively. The remaining trade goes to Brazil, Japan and most likely to China and the Philippines.

The illegally exploited phosphate rock is an important source of income for the Moroccan government, which holds large parts of the Western Sahara territory under military occupation, contrary to international law. Representatives of the Saharawi people have been consistently outspoken against the trade, both in the UN, generally, and to specific companies.

WSRW calls on all companies involved in the trade to immediately halt all purchases of Western Sahara phosphates until a solution to the conflict has been found and the Saharawi people have been assured the exercise of their fundamental right to self-determination. Investors are requested to engage or divest unless companies commit clearly to withdrawing from the trade.

Download the report here



The Western Sahara Campaign works in solidarity with the Saharawi people to generate political support in order to advance their right to self-determination and to promote their human rights. Our role is to lobby the UK Government and the EU. You can help us to ensure the UK does not ignore the voice of the Saharawi people.



Follow the news about EU's illegal fisheries in Western Sahara

The EU pays Morocco to fish in occupied Western Sahara.