A large audience of over a hundred was welcomed to Melbourne Filmoteca by Tristan Vasquez for their special film night in collaboration with the Australia Western Sahara Association entitled “Whatever happened to the Spanish Sahara?” held on 7 October at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Federation Square, Melbourne.
Two Spanish films : the charming and wistful, Lalia by Silvia Munt and the interesting and amusing Cubarawi Women by Antonio Marquez, were both received enthusiastically.
Afterwards, Lyn Allison, President of AWSA welcomed a special guest, Alex Tilman from Timor Leste and introduced a panel to answer questions from the floor: Cayce Baierski visiting Australia from California spoke briefly about the two months she spent in the camps in summer 2007, Cate Lewis mentioned some of the many special links between the Spanish and the Saharawi people, while Ron Guy talked about activities undertaken by AWSA in support of the Saharawis such as sending a container of aid to the camps, protesting about Australia’s phosphate imports and about the forthcoming Australian delegation to the UGTSARIO congress in the camps later this month.
Discussion ranged over issues such as how the United Nations was involved in the conflict in New York as well as on the ground through UNHCR and the World Food Program, why Spain had not fulfilled its duty to decolonize Western Sahara responsibly and whether there was any way people could help by not supporting companies who were trading with Morocco in materials sourced in Western Sahara.
The wonderful example of the Saharawi women seen on the screen inspired over forty people to subscribe to the AWSA e-bulletin to keep themselves updated about what is happening with Western Sahara.