01 April 2010 – Collective of Saharawi Human Rights Defenders (CODESA) PRESS RELEASE: SAHRAWI POLITICAL PRISONERS ON UNLIMITED HUNGER STRIKE FOR THEIR FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
Five Sahrawi human rights defenders, Ali Salem Tamek, Brahim Dahane, Yehdih Ettarrouzi, Ahmed Naciri and Rachid Sghayer, currently jailed for their opinions in Salé prison (Morocco) are in their 15th day of hunger strike. They’re calling for respect of their basic rights as political prisoners, i.e. medical assistance, open visits, correspondence and an investigation to the abuse they were subjected to while in prison on 15 December 2009.
The five human rights activists were arrested in Casablanca airport on 8 October 2009, upon their arrival after a two-week visit to the Sahrawi refugee camps near Tindouf, southwest Algeria. After 8 days of interrogation, the investigatory judge of Casablanca referred them to a military court and ordered for their imprisonment in Salé prison pending trial. Until today, no date has been set to try their case.
Via their hunger strike, the five political prisoners demand for a trial-date to be set or for their unconditional release. Since the start of their hunger strike on 18 March 2010, many other Saharawi political prisoners have joined them in their protest through open and limited hunger strikes in different Moroccan jails.
One of the five hunger strikers is Ali Salem Tamek, vice-president of Sahrawi human rights organization CODESA and member of various other international human rights associations. Mr. Tamek has been arrested six times due to his political opinions and human rights activism. He is currently in his 24th hunger strike. Please find a fact sheet on Mr. Tamek attached.
Whilst being in prison, one of the other hunger strikers, Brahim Dahane, president of ASVDH (human rights association in Western Sahara), was awarded the Swedish ‘Per Anger’ prize for his peaceful defense of human rights.
All of the jailed Sahrawi activists have been imprisoned before because of their stance on human rights. Their health is deteriorating on a daily basis, yet they will not stop their starvation-protest until their demands are met.
All five have put their lives on the line for fundamental rights, as enshrined in the Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Charter. Ironically, the Security Council will discuss the renewal of the MINURSO mandate this month. MINURSO is the only UN mission in the world lacking a mandate to monitor human rights.
Please find a letter from the Sahrawi political prisoners in Salé attached.
For questions and comments:
President of the Sahrawi Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Glaimim and member of CODESA
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 0032 (0) 489 74 89 23