Saharawi Community and Associations in France and Belgium address Morgherini about the arbitrary detention of Saharawi activist Mahfouda Lefkir

To Mrs. Federica Mogherini
High Representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy

We, the Collective of Saharawi Associations in France and Belgium, have learned that activist Mahfouda Lefkir was arrested on Friday, November 15, 2019 by the Moroccan occupation authorities, while she was attending the trial of her cousin Mansour Othman, aged 15, who was sentenced to 1 month in prison. Mansour was arrested on October 28 and accused of having participated in the celebrations of the victory of the Algerian team in the African Cup.

The young mother, member of the association “Coordination of Gdeim Izik” and the Moroccan Association of Human Rights, was arrested inside the courtroom of the court of El Aaiún under the pretext of “assaulting an official” when she asked about her cousin’s case.

Refusing to board a common prison transport van with only male prisoners, she was brutally beaten in front of everyone at the trial.

Mahfouda was presented on Saturday, November 16 before the king’s attorney. In the absence of her lawyer, the prosecutor sent her to the black prison of El Aaiun. The family was not allowed to give her the medications she had to take daily, knowing that Mahfouda has a cyst in her head and has been waiting for surgery for several months.

After her arrest, the health state of Mahfouda worsened and the penitentiaries responsible had to call an ambulance and gave her an injection to calm her down, without knowing about her previous health conditons.

Mahfouda is a well-known activist and has long been targeted by the Moroccan police. The Saharawi activist has been the victim of several attacks by the Moroccan authorities during peaceful demonstrations in which she regularly participates to demand the release of political prisoners and the independence of Western Sahara.

That’s why we are addressing you urgently, because we are very concerned about her state of health after a violent attack, injection without care and negligence. Especially during her trial today, where the prosecutor of the king refused to release her temporarily because of her condition and ordered that her trial be postponed until November 27, 2019.

The collective of Sahrawi Community Associations in France and Belgium is concerned about the continuing violations of human rights in occupied Western Sahara and calls on the European Union to demonstrate the priority it gives to the protection and promotion of human rights in all regions of the world including Western Sahara and to require Morocco to comply with international law and to respect its commitments in this area.

Please accept, Madam, the expression of our highest consideration.
Paris, November 19, 2019

Collective of Saharawi Associations in France and Belgium:

The undersigned :
Signed by the NGOs of the Saharawi community of France and Belgium:
1- Association of the Saharawi Community in France
2- Association of Saharawi Women in France
3- Association of Saharawi in France
5- Sahara Culture Association – Center of France
6- League of Saharawi Youth and Students in France
7- Cultural Association Franco-Saharawi
8- Saharawi Association of Bordeaux
9- Association of Friendship with Western Sahara in Midi-Pyrenees (Toulouse)
10- Saharawi Association of Périgueux
11- Saharawi Association for the Conservation of Western Sahara Resources (ASESO)
12- Saharawi Sports Association in France
13- Vereniging van de Saharawigemeenschap in Belgium – Belgium
14- Sahara is not for Sale – Saharawi Association in Brussels