Killing of two Saharawi students condemned

December 7, 2008

Members of the Australia Western Sahara Association (AWSA) are saddened and shocked by the outrageous killing of two young Saharawi students in Agadir, Morocco.

AWSA strongly condemns the killings and sends its condolences to the families of the dead and injured.

AWSA also wishes to express its solidarity with the Saharawi students and people. AWSA urges the Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, and the Australian government to ask the Moroccan government to account for the killing of the two Saharawi young men (aged 20 and 22), to investigate the circumstances surrounding their deaths and to bring to prosecution those responsible.

On Monday 1 December, Saharawi students gathered at Agadir bus station to take advantage of a promise of transport home for the festival of Eid. There were not enough places for the students who showed up and when the authorities did nothing to provide more buses, the Saharawi students began a peaceful sit-in.

Following the arrival of police, a bus-driver drove into the crowd at speed, killing two students and injuring several others. One student remains in a coma. The police then moved in, beating the rest of the students and arresting 11 of them.

According to human rights organizations, the Moroccan authorities have a policy of targeting Saharawi students. In recent years, at least seven Saharawi students have been killed and one severely burned during peaceful protests.

Moroccan authorities target the students particularly during exam periods in order to disrupt their studies. The Moroccan authorities abhor the Saharawi young generation because of its active role in the uprising against the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara.

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