Morocco has been accused of committing genocide in the West African state of Western Sahara by the Saharan branch of the Forum of Truth and Justice, quoted in Moroccan weekly newspaper “Demain magazine”.
The Moroccan publication refuted the claims which it published but the fact that mention was made of the alleged atrocities speaks volumes about the new spirit of openness in Morocco as this hitherto secret and taboo issue begins to be discussed.
The report condemning the Moroccan authorities of genocide in Western Sahara was handed to a delegation of Members of the European Union Parliament by the Forum for Truth and Justice in February, when the delegation of MEPs visited the country. The report was then sent to the United Nations offices in Geneva.
The report claims that the Moroccan authorities have exercised a policy of “atrocious oppression” against the Saharawis since 1975, when the campaign against the Polisario Liberation Front was launched. It is further claimed that hundreds of people are missing in Western Sahara, believed to be held in Moroccan prisons or to have been summarily executed by the Moroccan armed forces or police.
The report cites cases of arbitrary detentions without trial, torture, a military, security and media blockade and illegal exploitation of Western Sahara’s fishing resources by Moroccan vessels.
The report requests the United Nations organisation to supervise free, fair elections for self-determination for the people of Western Sahara. On 10th May, 1973, after years of armed struggle against the Spanish colonial forces, which also perpetrated numerous massacres of the Saharawi people, the Constitutive Congress for the Front for the Liberation of Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO) was set up, realising that the only way the territory was going to achieve freedom and self-determination was through armed struggle.
When the Spanish left on 27th February, 1976, the independent state of the Saharawi Arab democratic Republic was proclaimed at Bir Lahlou and was recognised by a number of African states. Morocco, however, had other ideas, for its eyes were set on the huge mineral resources of its southern neighbour. Western Sahara is rich in uranium, natural gas, oil and phosphates and is involved with Spanish and French multinationals which aim to control these resources
Thirty years later, the world ignores the question and the stakes remain the same – heavily stacked against the Saharawis. It is time somebody started to raise the issue in international circles and it is time the Less Developed Countries began to exploit and enjoy their own natural resources.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru
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