Moroccans attack 11 Saharawi human rights activists in El Aaiun upon their return from a visit to the Saharawi refugee camps
Hundreds Moroccan settlers, backed by police attacked 11 Saharawi human rights activists upon their landing at the airport of the occupied capital of Western Sahara, El Aaiun, maltreating them and stripping them naked under the orders of the Moroccan police to beat them up.
The victims are: Mr. Sidi Mohamed Daddach (24 years imprisonment), Mrs. Sukeina Jad Ahlu (12 years in Moroccan secret detention camp), Mrs. Najat Khneibili (10 years in Moroccan secret detention camp), Ms. Sultana Khaya, Ms. Aajina Bouhan, Ms. Fakka Abdadi, Mr. Hamada Ismaili, Mr. Hasanna El Wali, Mr. El Mahjoub Aoulad Cheikh, Mrs. Ameilmnin Sueyah, Ms. Fadah Aghla Manhum.
Sidi Mohamed Daddach was awarded the Norwegian Rafto Prize for human rights following his release from prison in 2001. At that point he was the longest serving prisoner of conscience in the world.
The activists were returning from a visit to the Saharawi refugee camps, where they spent a couple of weeks meeting their families, and investigating the truth about the situation in the camps, an action that the Moroccan authorities do not agree with, and try with all means to hinder.
A group of international observers planned to accompany the human rights activists but the Moroccan authorities deliberately prevented them from booking on the same flight. They also delayed the release of the luggage of the 11 activists on arrival until the rest of the passengers had left the airport. The Moroccan settlers could then have complete access to the activists in the absence of any witnesses except the Moroccan police.
Local sources also report that the houses of the activists are now under siege by police and citizens in El Aaiun are under threat.
A group of 7 Saharawi human rights activists (also known as the Casablanca 7), who did the same trip last September 2009, was arrested by the Moroccan authorities at the airport of Casablanca on 8 October last. Apart from one who was released pending the trial, they are still in the prison of Sale awaiting trial in a military court. No formal charges have been laid although the Moroccan colonial authorities talk of treason, collaborating with the enemy and endangering state security. 5 of these 7 activists started a hunger strike on 18 March in protest at their conditions of detention and calling for their release unless an immediate trial is held.
They have been joined in their unlimited hunger strike by 19 political prisoners in the prison of Tiznit, 3 in Marakech prison, 2 in Taroudant prison, 2 in Qnitra prison, and 1 in Bensliman. In total 32 Saharawi political prisoners are in an unlimited hunger strike protesting against the Moroccan colonial presence in Western Sahara and the human rights violations, including the violation of the prisoners’ rights as prisoners of conscience.