Morocco jails Saharawi activists for peaceful protests

Moroccan authorities have sentenced Western Saharan political prisoners to long jail sentences. The the prisoners had already spent two year in jail waiting for a trail. Amnesty International had called the trials flawed from the outset.

Eight Saharawi were sentenced to life in jail for peacefully demonstrating for the people of Western Sahara to be given a vote of self-determination, as promised by the United Nations. A further four activists received 30 years, seven received 25 years and two got 20-year sentences.

The activists were tried under military law, ignoring calls for them to be given a civilian trial. against calls for a civilian trial.

Morocco invaded Western Sahara in 1975 and continues to occupy most of its territory.

Amnesty International said: “Most of the defendants have said that they were tortured and otherwise ill-treated at different stages of their two-year pre-trial detention. Some are said to have been coerced into signing statements.

“Allegations of the torture of detainees must be investigated and any evidence obtained under torture must be dismissed by the court.”

Amnesty also called on Morocco to launch an independent investigation into the violent dismantling of the Gdeim Izik Sahrawi refugee camp by Moroccan security forces in November 08, 2010.

Recently, the Robert F Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights witnessed first hand the brutality of Moroccan authorities. Visiting human rights activist Sukeina Jed Ahlu was viciously assaulted by police in the occupied zone.

No country officially recognises Morocco’s control over Western Sahara.

To the credit of Australian company Wesfarmers, it has announced it will no longer be purchasing phosphate sourced from Western Sahara. Wesfarmers was targetted by activists calling for it to cease violating international law by buying the resources of an opccupied nation.

Unfortunately Incitec Pivot and Impact have not budged on their indifference to social justice.

The four big Australian banks are major shareholders in Incitec Pivot and may not know about this ethical issue. If you are concerned with the on-going plight of Saharawis living under Moroccan occupation and bank with the major banks, please call them about Incitec Pivot and the issue of phosphate stolen from Western Sahara.

[Ron Guy is secretary of Australia Unions for Western Sahara.]

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