The Collective of Saharawi Human Rights Defenders in Western Sahara (CODESA) released its first annual report on July 28 titled, “Continuous war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Moroccan occupation against Saharawi civilians. What future for the decolonization process in Western Sahara?” According to Mahjoub Maliha, head of CODESA’s external relations, the report reflects “the gravity and scale of the violations committed by the Moroccan occupation forces against Saharawi civilians.” It records human rights violations and war crimes committed in the occupied Western Sahara in the period between September 2020 and December 2021. Morocco claimed sovereignty over Western Sahara after Spain withdrew its colonial control from the territory in 1975.
International institutions have failed the Sahrawi people. Over 100 resolutions adopted by the United Nations have recognized the Sahrawi peoples’ right to self-determination, to no effect. The International Court of Justice condemned Mauritania and Morocco’s claims to Western Saharan land as far back as 1975, but Morocco continues to occupy the land illegally. In 1991, the United Nations promised to hold a referendum on Western Saharan statehood, but that referendum has not yet come to pass. Today, some 200,000 Sahrawis live in conditions of violent occupation in Western Sahara. Another 200,000 live in refugee camps in Algeria near the Western Saharan border and in parts of Western Sahara under the control of the Polisario Front. A 2,700km wall with an estimated seven million landmines separates the two territories.
On June 24th, approximately 2000 African migrants made a desperate attempt at a mass border crossing, climbing the iron fence separating Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla. Footage of African bodies piled up at the foot of the fence, many lifeless, while others were being savagely beaten by Moroccan Security Forces, went viral. To date, the number of African migrants who lost their lives has climbed to 37. We join with those all over the world, to condemn, in the strongest possible terms, this horrific attack by Moroccan security forces.
Algeria announced suspension of its two decade-old-treaty of friendship with Spain on Wednesday, June 8. It also announced the suspension of all imports from the European country over its decision to support Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara. The Algerian President’s office said in a statement on Wednesday that it is suspending the long-term treaty with Spain, called the “treaty of friendship, good neighborliness and cooperation,” signed in 2002. A statement issued by the Algerian Banking Association later declared that the government had also decided to suspend imports of all goods and services from Spain. According to the Algerian government, the decision to suspend political, economic, financial, educational and defense ties with Spain was taken after it supported the Moroccan position on occupied Western Sahara earlier this year in March.
Three US women heading to visit their friends in Boujdour, Western Sahara, were forcibly turned back on May 23rd, when they landed at Laayoune Airport. Twelve men and six women Moroccan agents physically overpowered them and placed them against their will on a plane back to Casablanca. During the scuffle, one of the women’s shirt and bra were pulled up to expose her breasts. In the cultural context of the passengers on the plane, this was a serious form of harassment and violence against women. Wynd Kaufmyn said of her treatment by the Moroccan forces, “We refused to cooperate with their illegal actions. I repeatedly shouted out on the departing airplane that I wanted to go to Boujdour to visit Sultana Khaya, who has endured torture and rape at the hands of Moroccan agents.
Spain has announced that it has endorsed a proposal by the Kingdom of Morocco to designate the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) as an “autonomous” region within the North African state. Former United States President Donald Trump in 2020, recognized Moroccan control over the Western Sahara in an attempt to strengthen relations between the Kingdom and the State of Israel. Formerly known as the “Spanish Sahara”, the people of the territory have been demanding national independence for decades. All of the former colonies of Europe within the African continent have sought independence from the former imperialist masters. Although there are 55 African countries which are members of the African Union (AU) and the United Nations, the phenomenon of neo-colonialism has hampered genuine liberation and continental unification.
The collective of the Sahrawi Human Rights Defenders in Western Sahara (CODESA) has called for global support to save the lives of Sahrawis as occupying Morocco resumed its oppression in the region fighting for self-determination. Last week, CODESA appealed to international organizations including the International Committee of the Red Cross for solidarity and action in “saving lives and humanity in Western Sahara.” CODESA appealed to the Red Cross to immediately establish a permanent mission for humanitarian operations in Western Sahara. It also asked other international organizations and individuals to sign a petition to that effect. The campaign to collect signatures had started on January 20 and ended on February 15.
The Trump administration’s announcement on December 10th 2020 that the USA recognised Moroccan sovereignty over the territory of Western Sahara disregards international law by endorsing colonialism and occupation. It also threatens prospects of future peace in northwest Africa. The decision reflects the priorities of Trump’s administration, but it is not new that global leaders disregard international law and prospects for peace in Western Sahara, nor that they tolerate and support colonialism and occupation there. Rather, the Trump administration’s decision has given these realities new public visibility. Ongoing efforts to support Sahrawis’ right to self-determination must go beyond pushing for a reversal of US recognition, and advocate for genuine conditions for decolonization.
There is a new U.S. war in Western Sahara, being waged by Morocco with the support of the U.S. military. The U.S. military, unbeknownst to most people in the United States — it’s perfectly knowable but few give a damn — arms and trains and funds the militaries of the world, including almost all of the most brutal governments of the world. I can’t compare this with the outrage in the U.S. media over the U.S. government feeding a few hungry people in the United States, because there isn’t any outrage over it at all.
Huge crowds have rallied in the Moroccan capital to demand the release of activists who staged mass anti-poverty demonstrations in 2016. One campaigner's father said he feared his son would die in prison. Thousands of protesters have marched through downtown Rabat to denounce jail sentences given to dozens of activists over their role in the Hirak Rif movement. The poverty-fighting campaign, which began in 2016 in the impoverished Rif region, led to the biggest unrest seen in Morocco since the 2011 Arab Spring.
By Staff of Answers Africa - Morocco has activated the world’s largest solar power plant in the Sahara desert, near the city of Ouarzazate. According to Climate Investment Funds (CIF), the plant is capable of powering over one million homes by 2018 and will also reduce carbon emissions by 760,000 tons per year. The plant which is called the Noor-Ouarzazate power complex uses concentrating solar power (CSP) which enables energy to be stored and used for nights and cloudy days.
By Staff of The New Arab - Thousands of demonstrators in Morocco have defied a government ban to march in a tense protest over planned cuts to Morocco's education system. Marchers on Sunday chanted "We're prepared to go to prison" as they neared the parliament building in Rabat, Morocco's capital. Teacher trainees have been protesting against the cuts around the country for the past few months, and the response from security forces during demonstrations has frequently been violent.