Category Archives: Human Rights

Open letter to UN from Geneva Group of NGOs supporting Saharawi human rights

Saharawis were alarmed to discover that the Moroccan ambassador to the UN, Omar Hilale, had been appointed by the UN to oversee human rights treaties. He will work jointly with the Swiss ambassador, Valentin Zellweger, on how to strengthen human rights treaty bodies of the United Nations.

The open letter from the NGOs Support Group for Human Rights in Geneva was made public on Friday 17 April protesting Hilale’s appointment.
It details why Omar Hilale is certainly not the right man for this job. Firstly a country which is occupying another country in violation of international law should not be entrusted with such work. Secondly, Morocco was found by a UN rapporteur to have imposed lengthy prison sentences on Saharawis based on “ “confessions” extracted under torture and has not investigated the claims as required to do.

16 April 2020 Open Letter to UNGA President

The Geneva support group for Saharawis’ human rights also issued a press release to mark International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims. It includes the full list of AWSA co-signatories from 210 organisations belonging to the Geneva group.
Press release: 200324 PR Intl. Day Truth-Victims

In Victoria the AWU and councils observe Western Sahara’s National Day

Western Sahara flag is raised at Richmond Town Hall

27 February 2020 was the 44th anniversary of the declaration of the Saharawi Republic.
The Australian Workers’ Union – Victorian Branch proudly observed Western Sahara’s National Day with the Saharawi flag raised high.

Western Sahara National Day was also marked on Thursday 27th Feb with the raising of the Saharawi flag at Richmond Town Hall, VIC.

Sydney AWSA raises the flag at Leichhardt Town Hall to commemorate Saharawi National Day on 27 February

Leichhardt Town Hall flag raising ceremony [Image: Bill Hawker, 2020]

Thursday 27 February marked the 44th anniversary of the declaration of the Saharawi Republic.

In recognition of this anniversary the flag of Western Sahara was raised in solidarity at Leichhardt Town Hall by Jamie Parker MP.

Also attending the flag-raising ceremony were Kamal Fadel (Polisario Representative Australia and New Zealand), Lesley Osborne (Secretary of the Australia Western Sahara Association, AWSA) and members of AWSA.

Aminatou Haidar announced as a Laureate in the 2019 Rights Livelihood Award

The Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.
Press Release, Stockholm, 25 September 2019

The 2019 Award goes to Aminatou Haidar (Western Sahara), Guo Jianmei (China), Greta Thunberg (Sweden) and Davi Kopenawa / Hutukara Yanomami Association (Brazil).
The Laureates were announced in Stockholm, Sweden, on 25 September 2019 at a press conference at the International Press Centre at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
Ole von Uexkull, Executive Director of the Right Livelihood Foundation, commented: “With the 2019 Right Livelihood Award, we honour four practical visionaries whose leadership has empowered millions of people to defend their inalienable rights and to strive for a liveable future for all on planet Earth.

Rights Livelihood Award announcement

24/10/19: ACFID Members Support Call for Independence of Western Sahara

Press release: ACFID Members Support Call for Independence of Western Sahara
24 Oct, 2019
Members of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) have backed a resolution at the Annual General Meeting to support the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and independence.
ACFID’s members, Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA and ActionAid Australia, put forward the resolution at the AGM which was held during the ACFID National Conference in Sydney and received the support of the ACFID membership.

Press release
Text of resolution

An exiled nation; Saharawi advocates call on the world to support self-determination for Western Sahara

Tecber Ahmed Saleh, a health worker in the Western Sahara Ministry of Health, speaks to an audience of trade unionists at Unions NSW, Sydney, Australia. Photo by Timothy Ginty, used with permission.

Journalist Tim Ginty reports on an exiled nation, Western Sahara in the online publication Global Voices, dated 4 October 2019

“For 40 years, the Saharawi people have been exiled from their homeland, cast out into what is known as the “desert of deserts”, where they live in hope of one day experiencing a long-awaited return to their promised land: their homeland of Western Sahara.

Their wait has been so long that entire generations have lived and died hoping for a return. One young Saharawi woman, Tecber Ahmed Saleh, tells me: “My grandmother, she died holding the radio, thinking that tomorrow they would call a referendum.”

Global Voices article

Africa’s Last Colony; Morocco continues to stonewall…John Bolton unwilling to ignore any longer

Africa’s Last Colony; Morocco continues to stonewall on the human disaster it has created in Western Sahara, and John Bolton is not the only U.S. official unwilling to ignore the problem any longer.
by David Keene
The American Spectator, August 10, 2019

David Keene writes “If Americans knew more about what Jim Baker, John Bolton, and elected officials like Senator Inhofe have learned about the ongoing human disaster in the Western Sahara, all of Rabat’s lobbyists and diplomats would lose their ability to keep the U.S. from stepping up the pressure to force their country to live up to its promises.”  Read more at link below…
http://Africa’s last colony, by David Keene

‘Silence! We are being killed in occupied Western Sahara!’

Al-Saharawi, News Platform and Analysis, 22 July 2019
By Malainin Lakhal
The Moroccan para-military and security forces are involved since last Friday evening in a massive, violent and deadly repression against Saharawi civilians in the occupied city of El Aaiun, the occupied capital of Western Sahara. The events broke after thousands of Saharawis got out to the streets to celebrate the victory of the Algerian Football Team in the Africa Cup of Nations last Friday 19th July. (cont…)

Al-Saharawi article

RSF Report: Western Sahara, A News Blackhole

Reporters without Borders, 11 June 2019
In its report on press freedoms in Western Sahara, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) sheds light on a territory cut off from the rest of the world, a veritable news black hole that has become a no-go zone for journalists.
“Western Sahara, a desert for journalists,” is the first-ever work of research into press freedoms in this non-autonomous territory,

Press release and link to report

Western Sahara comes to Melbourne – Journalism in a no-go area

Melbourne Filmoteca and Australia Western Sahara Association
Press Release 14 June 2019
Ms Nazha Al Khalidi, a Saharawi journalist, and her colleagues in Equipe Media can be seen at work in a documentary, Rifles or Graffiti, being screened on
Tuesday 18 June at 6.30pm at ACMI in the Treasury Theatre, Lower Plaza,  1 Macarthur Place.
Press Release-14june19 Rifles or Graffiti

Ms Nazha Al Khalidi, a Saharawi journalist faces trial on 24 June for her work to expose human rights abuses in Western Sahara when she live-streamed footage of police beating peaceful protesters. Her case is described in detail by a group of Canadian lawyers, in a letter dated 6 June sent to the Moroccan minister of Justice.