Ramos-Horta discusses Western Sahara

July 26, 2009

MELBOURNE— Federal Labor MP Janelle Saffin was interrupted by heckling from five Moroccan protesters at a forum called "Western Sahara and East Timor: What has really been stolen?" on July 23.

The protesters interjected each time Saffin spoke, and verbally abused
Kamal Fadel, the Saharawi representative to Australia and ambassador to East Timor, and Fatima Mahfoud from the women's union of Western Sahara. The protesters were eventually escorted from the auditorium by Victorian Police and Federal Police.

Guest speaker and East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta said unlike East Timorese party Fretlin — which in its history fighting Indonesian occupation had done things it couldn't be proud of — the Polisario (the Saharawi liberation front) had always respected the rule of law is in its struggle against Morocco's occupation.

Lyn Allison, president of the Australia Western Sahara Association, spoke of
Australia's role in the exploitation of resources from the disputed zone, which is against international law.

All speakers had visited Saharawi refugee camps, and refuted the charge of a recent documentary, Stolen, which claimed slavery was rife in the camps.

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