OCCUPIED LAAYOUNE – APS.dz.- The Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) for Western Sahara, Staffan de Mistura, met on Tuesday in occupied Laâyoune with representatives of Sahrawi human rights organisations and media institutions, They presented him with vivid testimonies and detailed reports on the crimes perpetrated by Morocco in the occupied Saharawi territories, for inclusion in the report that he will submit to the UN Security Council in October, affirming the determination of the Saharawi people to exercise their right to self-determination and independence.
These organisations, which represent various actors in Sahrawi civil society and are active in the defence of human rights and the fight against the plundering of natural resources, include the Collective of Human Rights Defenders in Western Sahara (CODESA), the Sahrawi Instance for the Fight against the Moroccan Occupation, and the Sahrawi Oil and Minerals Association, as well as representatives of the “Equipe Média” information website and the “Maizirat” network.
At the start of the two-hour meeting, the UN Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy asked the participants to focus on their demands for inclusion in his next report, indicating that he had been working for two years to organise this meeting.
In their speeches, all the Sahrawi organisations stressed that the Polisario Front was the sole legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people, and that it was committed to “the application of international law and the organisation of a referendum on self-determination to achieve freedom and independence”.
The Sahrawi organisations also denounced the serious human rights violations committed by the Moroccan occupation authorities against Sahrawi civilians, citing the “savage repression” to which the peaceful march of demonstrators in the occupied town of El Ayoune was subjected on Monday, on the occasion of his visit to the occupied territories.
“During the meeting, which took place at the headquarters of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), Mr De Mistura and the delegation accompanying him listened to the statements made by the representatives of the Sahrawi human rights committees and organisations that had been invited”, reads the CODESA press release.
A referendum on self-determination, the only solution to resolving the conflict in Western Sahara
The organisation said that its delegation had addressed in its speech “the human rights situation in the occupied part of Western Sahara, in the context of the suffering endured by Sahrawi civilians as war crimes, extermination and crimes against humanity”, noting that its delegation “has provided the Special Envoy with reports and testimonies” in this regard.
Other reports, she added, “have also addressed the situation of Saharawi political prisoners and what their families endure as dramatic situations, due to the remoteness of the distance, the physical and psychological torture and the racist practices to which these prisoners are subjected”. 3
A CODESA delegation handed over “written letters calling on the UN to assume its legal and political responsibility to ensure the Saharawi people’s right to self-determination and the application of international humanitarian law in these territories, by working to grant political prisoners their freedom”.
Sahrawi journalist and Secretary General of the “Maizirat” information network, Sahel Ould Ahel Mailid, told APS that the speeches had focused on “the Polisario Front being the sole legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people, the imperative of extending MINURSO’s prerogatives to include the monitoring of human rights, the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the region, which has continued to worsen as a result of repression and intimidation by the Moroccan colonial power, the demand for the release of political prisoners, and the plundering of the wealth of the impoverished and marginalised Sahrawi people”.
With regard to the latter point, Sahrawi associations active in the fight against the plundering of the Sahrawi people’s wealth affirmed that “the Moroccan coloniser greedily exploits the Sahrawi wealth”, demanding that any contract concerning this wealth should be concluded with the Polisario Front, laying bare the objective behind the Moroccan colonisation campaigns carried out in the occupied Sahrawi territories, which is to “change the demographic structure of the region”.
According to the SG of “Maizirat”, the speeches also emphasised the need to “establish an international mechanism to monitor and follow up the human rights situation in the occupied cities in order to ensure the protection of Sahrawi civilians”.