Australia Western Sahara Association PRESS RELEASE 28 April 2008

Appeal for release of Brahim Sabbar and all Saharawi political prisoners

Today the Australia Western Sahara Association (AWSA) wrote to Mr Chakib Benmoussa, Moroccan Minister of the Interior asking for the release of Saharawi political detainees, held in Moroccan prisons. Brahim Sabbar is the secretary general of ASVDH, the Saharawi Association for victims of violations of human rights for Saharawis living under Moroccan rule and has been in prison since June 2006 (see:

Since deciding to join with other associations working for justice for the Saharawi people around the world calling for the liberation of Saharawi prisoners of conscience, AWSA has noted a massive crackdown by the Moroccan authorities against Saharawi students and human rights defenders has taken place, making our appeal especially timely. We have sent the message via the Moroccan Ambassador in Canberra, Dr Badre Eddine Allali.

Morocco attempts to silence every demonstration of the Saharawi people’s expression of their right to self-determination. As well as trying to prevent any freedom of expression, the Moroccan authorities also curtail Saharawis freedom of movement with a curfew in occupied Western Sahara, and deny any freedom of association. Every human rights organisation supporting the Saharawi people has been refused the right to register as a legal organisation in Western Sahara. So when a Saharawi married to a French woman and living in Paris set up an organisation, CORELSO, with the aim of establishing basic freedoms and rights in Western Sahara, the Moroccan authorities felt threatened. Its president, Enaama Asfari, on a visit to Marrakech, was arrested on 13 April, beaten and tortured and accused of false charges in court. The trial was postponed until Monday 28 April because of conflicting evidence from the prosecution witnesses. A delegation of human rights defenders from France due to attend the trial as observers was expelled on Friday 25 April. Amnesty International issued a statement on 25 April ( ) expressing concern that the charges may be politically motivated and calling for an inquiry into Asfari’s claim of having been tortured. Amnesty fears that the incident may be designed to prevent Asfari from his activities as a human rights defender and his advocacy for the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people.

Morocco is trying hard to promote a proposal for autonomy within the UN as an alternative solution to a vote on independence of the country. The UN Security Council will be voting on this matter in the coming week.

For information about The Australia Western Sahara Association (AWSA), see: