AMINATOU HAIDAR | WHITEWASHING WESTERN SAHARA’S STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM | 2016


Ladies and gentlemen, honorable audience First I would like to thank the founder of the Oslo Freedom Forum, Mr. Thor Halvorssen for inviting me to this important human rights event. It is a great honor for me to be here today at the Oslo Freedom Forum. I am Aminatou Haidar, of Western Sahara. I am fighting peacefully for the freedom of my people and the respect of their legitimate rights. My country, Western Sahara is a non-autonomous territory located in the northwest of Africa. It is surrounded by Morocco in the north Mauritania in the south Algeria to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The people of Western Sahara are known for their moderate practice of Islam and their values of peace cultural openness, and tolerance. Women occupy an incredibly important place in the Sahrawi society. Western Sahara was colonized by Spain for a century. In the early sixties, the UN began demanding the right to self-determination for the Sahrawi people in accordance with resolution 1514 (XV) published in 1960 by the UN general assembly. On October 31, 1975, in violation of international law Western Sahara was annexed forcibly by the Moroccan state. Decolonization was blocked and this is where the tragedy of the Sahrawi people began. Since the illegal Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara Morocco has systematically violated all aspects of human rights. Thousands of Sahrawi civilians found themselves forced to leave the occupied territories in Western Sahara to save their lives. Their temporary encampments were bombed by the Moroccan air force with napalm, white phosphorus, and cluster bombs. Tens of Sahrawi civilians succumbed to their wounds. The survivors have lived in immensely difficult conditions for 41 years in Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria. This is how my people, the Sahrawi people find themselves torn, divided into two parts by a 2600 km long wall and thousands of antipersonnel mines which have caused the deaths of hundreds of Sahrawi civilians. The Sahrawi civilians who were unable to flee continue to live under the fierce repression of the Moroccan authorities. Hundreds of Sahrawi civilians have fallen victim to enforced disappearances for periods ranging from three months to 16 years. They have been sequestered in secret places in Morocco and Western Sahara where they have been subjected to the cruelest methods of physical and psychological torture including enforced nudity and rape, particularly against women. Sahrawi women continue to live with the trauma of these humiliating acts. Personally, when I was 20 years old I was victim of this crime against humanity. My only sin was to have organized a peaceful demonstration in favor of independence for my country during the visit of a UN commission in Sahara. I was among 10 women over the course of nearly 4 years, who were subjected daily to the most atrocious forms of torture. Throughout our confinement in the secret prison in El Aaiun in Western Sahara we were kept blindfolded all the time. We were denied medical care, nutrition and hygiene, and we were totally isolated from the outside world. Many other abducted Sahrawi women died under torture at various secret sequestration centers in Morocco and Western Sahara. According to credible testimonies from some survivors tens of Sahrawis were buried alive in mass graves while others were thrown from the helicopters of the Moroccan army. Hundreds were arrested illegally and sentenced with no hope of a fair trial. To date, more than 50 Sahrawi activists are behind bars in deplorable detention conditions. Maybe this picture can better illustrate my point. Furthermore, there are still hundreds of Sahrawis missing and we have no information about their situation. Honorable audience, my people, the Sahrawis struggle today in their civil and peaceful resistance to obtain their right to self-determination independence, and respect of their legitimate rights. Despite the peaceful nature of their popular resistance and appeals by foreign governments and numerous international human rights organizations and European institutions Morocco consistently fails to honor its commitments concerning the respect of human rights in Western Sahara. Thus, the systematic and excessive use of force is still practiced by the Moroccan authorities to suppress peaceful Sahrawi protesters demanding respect for their legitimate rights, as shown in the video. This excessive use of force has undermined the right to life of tens of Sahrawi citizens. The most recent assassinations claimed the lives two young Sahrawis Brahim Saika and Adnan Rahali. I myself have been a victim of these brutalities on multiple occasions. In June 2005, during a peaceful protest, I was beaten in the middle of the street and the picture shows the brutality that I was subjected to. I was illegally detained and sentenced to 7 months of prison. In November 2012, immediately after a meeting with the UN Secretary General’s Personal Envoy to Western Sahara, Ambassador Christopher Ross I was again beaten and threatened at knifepoint and threatened at knifepoint by Moroccan police officers. The windows of my car were completely smashed my house was surrounded, and attacked by the police, and my family terrorized. During the latest occurrence, a year ago during the visit of a delegation of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the police attacked my house and prevented victims from meeting with the UN delegation. Torture and degrading treatment are still always used against Sahrawi civilians arrested arbitrarily by Moroccan police. Women and minors are not spared by this repression. The Moroccan judiciary system refuses to investigate these torture cases presented by Sahrawi civilians. This refusal guarantees total impunity to the Moroccan officials involved in these acts of torture and degrading treatments. Ladies and gentlemen despite the fact that the organization I lead, the CODESA remains devoid of legal recognition I have never ceased to defend the rights of my people and to raise awareness about the daily suffering of my people and the repression from which they suffer on a daily basis. This has not pleased the Moroccan government and to silence me on November 14, 2009, Moroccan authorities expelled me after my return from the United States where I received a prize from the John Train Foundation. They expelled me to the Canary Islands because of my work and took away my passport and separated me from my family and children. This is when I started a 32-day-long hunger strike to protest this illegal expulsion. Thanks to the solidarity of the international community in particular the pressures from the UN and the USA I was able to demand my return to Western Sahara and see my children again. Honorable audience in Western Sahara the socio-economic rights of the Sahrawi people are trampled on by Morocco. Mining and halieutic resources of Western Sahara are pillaged and illegally exploited by the Moroccan state and its Western partners without any benenfits to the Sahrawi people and without their consultation. Finally, given the gravity of human rights violations in the occupied territories of Western Sahara given the poor living conditions of the Sahrawis given that the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) does not have a mandate to protect human rights in Western Sahara and given the military and media siege on Western Sahara maintained by Morocco which does not allow international observers access to this territory I am calling on you so that the OFF community may undertake any action that would promote values of peace and tolerance in the occupied territories of Western Sahara. Let the participants of this important conference join me in defending the right of my people to freedom and guaranteeing the respect of our right to self-determination and contribute to the stability of peace in Western Sahara and the entire world. Finally I want to thank you and thank the organizers of this event the translators and donors. Thank you very much.

10 thoughts on “AMINATOU HAIDAR | WHITEWASHING WESTERN SAHARA’S STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM | 2016

  • Aminatou Haidar is talking on behalf of the algerian government. She had never represented the Western Sahara community. She has no serious knowledge on universal Human Rights principles. She uses HR to serve her own affairs. She has no effective role in our territory in terms of HR. She is everything except a HR stakeholder. The Western Sahara community condemn her propaganda for the account of the algeria military regime. Thanks

  • Aminatou Speech was written in algiers. She has not the required skills to write such speech full of fallacies and inconsistencies. The Western Sahara community is fed up with the maneuvers of algeria agents including Aminatou Haidar. Thanks

  • Vive la Kabylie libre et indépendante du régime assassins d'algérie
    Signé la pétition contre la Mafia des Génraux d'alger et des massacreur https://www.makabylie.org/index.php/soutien-militants-kabyles-

  • الصحراء مغربية.. اكبر متسولة. باسم المخيمات. لتصبح اغنا امرأة في افريقيا. تنهب الاموال من المغرب. والمخيمات. والجزائر والمنظمات فالي جهنة الخائة

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