Activists gather to demand that Morocco’s king stop obstructing Referendum or leave Western Sahara


(Washington, DC)…Human rights activists, including representatives of the US-Western Sahara Foundation, Nonviolent International, Sahrawi refugees and a former MINURSO official, gathered at the Embassy of Morocco Friday, November 6 at 10 am to submit a petition demanding that King Mohamed VI of Morocco stop obstructing the UN planned referendum over Western Sahara or withdraw from their illegal occupation of Western Sahara.

“The recent devastating floods of October have caused further hardship for the people of Western Sahara who have been forced to live in refugee camps since Morocco invaded their homeland on November 6, 1975, ” said Suzanne Scholte, Chairman of the US-Western Sahara Foundation. “Because this ongoing suffering is a direct result of the King of Morocco’s obstruction of the UN’s promised referendum, we are calling for the referendum to be held or for Morocco to withdraw from their illegal occupation of Western Sahara.”

“Because November 6th also marks the anniversary of the Green March which followed Morocco’s illegal invasion of Western Sahara which began that October, it is ever more important to raise our voices on this day,” said Michael Beer of Nonviolent International, who has been a long time advocate for self-determination.

“The people of Western Sahara need to know they are not forgotten during this latest crisis,” said Gare Smith, who served under President Bill Clinton as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. “This is the only remaining African colony and it is the obligation of the United Nations and the international community to see that a free, fair, and impartial referendum is held. The only alternative is Morocco’s withdrawal from Western Sahara.”

Katlyn Thomas, who served as the Member of the Commission responsible for legal affairs at MINURSO, pointed out, “There is absolutely no reason why a referendum cannot be held which would permit the indigenous people of Western Sahara to choose their future. The excuses offered by Morocco and certain other officials are patently false.”

Zeiny Ali Taleb, a Sahrawi speaking on behalf of the refugees said, “This latest hardship makes us even more determined that our people will achieve their legal right to self-determination.”

“We are now 40 years on with an occupation that was illegal from the outset. We are now 25 years on after a promised referendum for self-determination, both an established right and a continuing obligation of the international community,” explained attorney Jeffrey Smith of Canada. “If not justice now for the Sahrawi people, then when? And if not justice in this clearest of cases, then what in the future for other peoples burdened by gross human rights abuses and the taking of their resources?”

For further information, contact Suzanne Scholte at 202-257-0095.

Suzanne Scholte
President, Defense Forum Foundation
Chairman, US-Western Sahara Foundation