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Human rights in jeopardy

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  • Sue B.
    Human rights in jeopardy Dear Friends The situation continues to be very unsettled in occupied Western Sahara. A Norwegian delegation arrived to attend a trial
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 6, 2005
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      Human rights in jeopardy

      Dear Friends
      The situation continues to be very unsettled in occupied Western Sahara. A Norwegian delegation arrived to attend a trial on Tuesday of 16 demonstrators, but was forced to leave under escort of 25 police, with 200 troops waiting nearby in case the Saharawis demonstrated about the expulsion. This is the fifth international observer mission to be turned back, and this one was led by the president of the Rafto Foundation which awarded its 2002 prize for human rights to Mohamed Daddach, Saharawi former prisoner of conscience and human rights defender. At least he could see that they had chosen a situation where human rights really are in jeopardy.

      Fiasco at the trial of 15 demonstrators (the 16th was in hospital following
      torture): the accused appeared in court wearing traditional Saharawi clothes, saying that the Moroccan colonial court had no competence to try them. The lawyers for the defence refused to take part in the show trial. The court postponed proceedings until 12 July.

      Meanwhile we can be proud of the excellent statement made last week by Justice John Dowd, president of the Australian ICJ - see below. We hope that the UN will soon take some action towards hastening the peace process in Western Sahara.

      If you would like to do something, then please sign the appeal for the release of Aminatou Haidar and the Saharawi political detainees: http://www.arso.org/formah.htm.


      -- Cate Lewis Australia Western Sahara Association (Melbourne) tel :
      0407 288 358 email : awsamel@... post : AWSA, P O Box 164,
      Clifton Hill, Vic 3068 ------------------------------------------------
      MEDIA RELEASE ICJ Australian Section calls for an end to human rights
      abuses in Western Sahara by Morocco International Commissions of Jurists
      (Australia) Sydney 1 July 2005 President of the Australian Section of
      the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) Justice John Dowd (ret) QC
      AO has said in a statement from Sydney today that The International
      Commission of Jurists (Australian Section), expresses its deep concern
      for the situation in Western Sahara which has been illegally occupied by
      Morocco for the last thirty years. The tortures, arbitrary arrests and
      show trials must end and the UN supervised referendum must take place.
      Western Sahara is known as the last colony in Africa and has many
      striking similarities to East Timor. Justice Dowd who has visited the
      Saharawi refugee camps in Western Algeria has said that an independent
      Western Sahara can play an important role in that region. I know from my
      visits to the camps and meetings with President Abdel Aziz that the
      leadership would make every effort to normalise relations, with Morocco
      after free and fair elections Western Sahara is one of the few remaining
      countries on the UN list of non-self-governing territories. It is of
      note that in May and June this year the Moroccan army and police have
      brutally suppressed peaceful demonstrations in the territory and that
      hundreds of innocent Saharawis have been imprisoned, tortured and
      kidnapped; we ask that the Moroccan authorities desist from these cruel
      practices and go ahead with the referendum, Justice Dowd said. The
      Saharawis are demanding their right to self-determination and
      independence, and the show trials of those who participated in the
      demonstrations the Moroccan authorities have sentenced Saharawis to up
      to 25 years imprisonment are unhelpful and will only hinder progress
      Amnesty International and the UN have called for the end of the human
      rights abuses in Western Sahara and the speedy organisation of a free
      and fair referendum in the territory. The ICJ therefore: * Condemns the
      torture and inhuman treatment of the Saharawi civilians by the Moroccan
      police and army. * Deplores the show trials and the severe prison
      sentences handed to Saharawis by Moroccan courts. * Demands the release
      of the Saharawi human rights activist Aminatou Haidar and all other
      Saharawi political detainees. * Asks the Moroccan government to allow
      independent observers and the media to visit the occupied areas of
      Western Sahara. * Urges the UN and the African Union to redouble their
      efforts so th0at a free and fair referendum is organised in Western
      Sahara as soon as possible & also requests the UN to include human
      rights monitoring in the mandate of its mission in the territory
      (MINURSO). * Calls upon the Australian government to put pressure on
      Morocco to respect human rights in the Western Sahara as well as to
      cooperate with the UN and AU and allow the organisation a free, fair
      referendum of self-determination in Western Sahara. Media Enquiries:
      John Dowd QC AO + 61 2 9266 0950 +61 [0]439 625 077
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