PUSL.- Ambassador Sidi Omar (Western Sahara) commented on the Security Council Meeting in the Media Stake Out in the UN headquarters in New York, last Monday, and answered several questions put forward by the Journalists.
In his declaration he has not only commented on the SC’s decision to prolong the mandate of MINURSO (Mission of the United Nations for the Referendum in Western Sahara but also denounced the baseless accusations of Ambassador Omar Hilal of the Moroccan Occupying State and clarified the current situation and attacks in the scope of the war between the SADR and the Moroccan occupying state since 13th November 2020.
Below the transcript of the declarations:
Marthinus van Schalkwyk (South Africa) and Sidi M. Omar(Frente POLISARIO) on Western Sahara – Security Council Media Stakeout (30 October 2023)
Ambassador Marthinus van Schalkwyk: Good afternoon. Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen from the press. My name is Marthinus van Schalkwyk. I’m the DPR of South Africa to the United Nations. As you know, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2703 on MINURSO this afternoon is the mandate renewal that took place, and we just like to make a few comments and then we would like to hand over to Ambassador Sidi Omar from Frente Polisario. So just from South Africa’s position on MINURSO: From the outset, we would like to indicate that we continue to support the efforts of Mr. Staffan de Mistura, who is the personal envoy of the Secretary General on Western Sahara. Also, let me reiterate, South Africa has always and will always support efforts to achieve a just and lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self determination of the people of Western Sahara. It’s in this context of ensuring lasting and sustainable peace on the continent that we support the efforts of the people of Western Sahara. And let me hand over to Ambassador Sidi Omar.
Ambassador Sidi Omar: Good evening, and thank you very much ambassador, and thank you very much South Africa for their continuous and principled position of support to the people of Western Sahara, there just struggle for freedom and independence. Today the Security Council has adopted a new resolution extending the mandate of the United Nations mission for the referendum in Western Sahara for another year. In this resolution, as in the previous resolution, the Security Council recalls and reaffirms all its previous resolutions on the issue of Western Sahara and reaffirms its commitment to assist the two parties Frente Polisario and the occupying state of Morocco to achieve a just and lasting solution, which will provide for the self determination of the people of Western Sahara. The Security Council likewise recognizes the important role played by MINURSO also on the ground, and the need for it to fully implement its mission. Moreover, the Security Council recognizes and calls for enhancing cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, including through facilitating visits to the region, which is a very clear message to the occupying state of Morocco, which has been preventing the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from visiting the occupied Western Sahara for the eighth consecutive year, as the Secretary General pointed out in his latest report, the Security Council also welcomes the informal consultations convened by the current personal Envoy Mr. Staffan de Mistura with the two parties Frente Polisario and the occupying state of Morocco, the two neighboring countries and other states including permanent members of the Security Council, which shows the International importance being given to the issue of Western Sahara. Nevertheless, the Security Council has missed another opportunity to adopt concrete measures to empower the United Nations mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, MINURSO, to fully implement its mandate as established in Security Council resolution 690 of 1991. The Security Council has also failed to address decisively, the long-standing restrictions imposed by the occupying the state of Morocco on MINURSO which undermine the credibility as well as the international character and impartiality of the mission. The Frente Polisario cannot but expres once again, our rejection of the continued silence by the Security Council and particularly some influential members about the serious consequences of the breaching by the occupying state of Morocco of the 1991 ceasefire on 13th of November 2020, which jeopardizes not only the prospects for relaunching the peace process under the auspices of the personal envoy, but also peace and security in the entire region. In this regard, we express our gratitude to the Russian Federation and to Mozambique for having abstained today which sends a very strong message to all of those who seek to deviate the peace process in Western Sahara from its unanimously agreed parameters. We also thank all those countries who expressed their support for the right of Saharawi’s people self-determination, as the basis for bringing about that decolonization of Western Sahara, the Last Colony in Africa. Our position remains unchanged. We reiterate our commitment to the achievement of a peaceful, just and lasting solution for the decolonization of Western Sahara, based on the free and democratic exercise by our people of their inalienable right to self-determination and independence, and in this regard, reaffirm that the United Nations and the Organization of the African Unity settlement plan remains the only agreement mutually accepted by both parties, the Frente Polisario and the occupying state of Morocco, and approved unanimously by the Security Council, which established under its authority, the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara for a clear and sole mandate, that is the holding of a free and democratic referendum without any military or administrative constraints, whereby the Saharawi people can decide their future and exercise their inalienable right to self determination and independence. At the same time, we reiterate, or firm rejection of the fait accompli policy, that the occupying state of Morocco is trying to forcibly impose in the occupied territories of Western Sahara, and we reaffirm the unwavering and firm determination of the Saharawi people to continue the liberation struggle by all legitimate means, to realize our national aspirations for freedom and independence and the establishment of the sovereignty of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic over its entire national territory.
Now, if you would allow me, the Moroccan ambassador who spoke before me and took whatever time as part of his habit, has made some accusations which he is used to make from here and elsewhere about our national liberation movement, Frente Polisario, using all types of labels describing us as a separatist group, an armed group and even a terrorist group.
Now, the questions that you need, you people could ask this gentleman who’s supposed to represent his country with credibility, decorum and civility, are the following:
If what he has been saying all along, were true. Why did the Secretary General of the United Nations meet with the Secretary General of the Frente Polisario and president of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic here at the United Nations headquarters on the 11th September this year in the presence of senior UN officials? Why does the Security Council take note in this resolution, which was adopted today and in previous resolutions of the proposal presented by the Frente Polisario to the UN Secretary General on the 10th of April 2007? Why does the personal envoy of the UN Secretary General meet regularly with a representative of the Frente Polisario at the United Nations here at the UN headquarters and elsewhere? Why do many states and governments around the world engage officially with the Frente Polisario, including, for example, the government of the United States of America, including a visit by a senior US official to meet with the leadership of the Frente Polisario early September this year?
I could go on and on. But these questions indicate that either the United Nations Secretariat, the Security Council, and many states and governments, including the US government, are supporting separatism, terrorism and terrorist groups, or the ambassador of the occupying state of Morocco has exceeded all limits of tact and common sense. And therefore, he must apologize for his insolent remarks and obnoxious behavior. Another recurring claim made here by the ambassador, of the Moroccan occupying state is about the situation in the occupied Western Sahara, where the claim is always that the Saharawi do enjoy full rights, and practically “live in a paradise” quote, unquote, of prosperity and abundance, which is obviously contradicted by the many reports, including the latest report of the UN Secretary General and international African human rights organizations, which demonstrate that the Saharawi in occupied Western Sahara continue to be subjected to brutal repression and terror at the hands of the Moroccan security forces away from the scrutiny of the international community because Western Sahara remains under a tight military siege and media blackout. Now, for the sake of argument, let’s suppose that the situation in occupied Western Sahara were exactly as the ambassador of the Moroccan occupying state describes. The question is this: Why do the Moroccan authorities continue to deny the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights access to the territory? As pointed out by the Secretary General of the United Nations in his latest report, let alone rapporteurs, NGOs, international media and observers? The answer is very clear. The occupying state of Morocco has a lot to hide. And it fears that the world would know about the horrific consequences of its illegal occupation of Western Sahara.
The ambassador of the occupying state of Morocco talks about increase in support of what he calls their proposal, and then cites figures and arguments statements. Now, as the Secretary General, pointed out in his latest report in July this year, the question of Western Sahara remains on the agenda of the General Assembly and its subsidiary organs. That’s the 4th committee and the C24 as an issue of decolonization. And on the agenda of the Security Council as an issue relating to peace and security. I think this summarizes all, and the occupying state of Morocco can accumulate as many proclamations and political statements as it wants. Now, what is behind all these statements of support? It’s an open secret that bribery and corruption are precisely the main tools used by the Moroccan diplomacy in its interaction with other states, and these are exactly the tools that have been used to line the pockets of some corrupt governments to open the so called consulates, that in fact are some apartments rented for when they show them in the occupied cities in El Aaiun and Dakhla in occupied Western Sahara. Obviously, the opening of such consulates is null and void and has no international effect because Western Sahara remains a non-self-governing territory. Now, we also have the “Moroccogate Scandal”, which is being investigated by the Belgian authorities and the investigation has uncovered the deep involvement of the Moroccan regime in bribing and corrupting members of the European Parliament to adopt policies in line with expansionist policies and occupation of Western Sahara. No wonder that many members in the European Parliament have been asking that the Moroccan regime be punished for its mafia like behavior. I think that it’s time for the ambassador of the occupying state of Morocco to be concerned about his credibility and that of his country at the United Nations and elsewhere. Because all that I have just said, begs the question, what credibility can be given to a person who not only makes preposterous accusations, which are indeed an insult to the intelligence of everybody, but also keeps on rehashing the same false claims in the face of hard evidence and common sense? The answer is: no credibility at all.
I’ll leave it at this.
Thank you for your attention. And I’m available for any questions that you may have.
Journalist: I like you to comment on the last weekend, firing of rockets against the city of Samara. Was it a mistake or the police hurry is trying to spread the attacks beyond the berm? Thank you.
Ambassador Sidi Omar: Muchas gracias. Thank you, Javier. Well, let me say first, that it is really interesting that the ambassador of the occupying state Morocco follows our military communiqués and showed you a copy of the latest, 901, is the same ambassador, who in February 2021 sent a letter to the SG saying that there is no armed conflict in Western Sahara. The answer to your question is the content of our latest military communique number 901, where the Frente Polisario, which has been engaged in an armed liberation struggle against the Moroccan occupying forces since the 13th of November 2020, did target the sector of Smara, Mahbes and Farsia. And it’s not the first time, several times these three sectors as sectors in Ausserd or Um Dreiga have been targeted. We are in open war, the occupying state of Morocco may not want to recognize that. But the fact is there since the 13th November 2020, as a result of the blatant violation by the Moroccan occupying forces in terms of the ceasefire, the Saharawi people have been engaged in a liberation war, to resist occupation of their land. So the attacks of yesterday, or the day before, or the year before almost three years, are all targeting every position where the occupying forces are. And the objective is very clear, and we make no secret about it. We want to liberate our land from the Moroccan occupation,
Journalist: Do you regret the death of civilians in these attacks?
Ambassador Sidi Omar: We have read in the press – the Moroccan press – and the Moroccan ambassador said that about civilians. But if we want to talk about civilians, in this case, since we talk about the war in Western Sahara, let me just share with you some of the details and information – compiled by whom? by the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, MINURSO, and reflected in Secretary General’s report. The Secretary General’s report and MINURSO’s reports all demonstrate that the occupying state of Morocco has deliberately targeted Saharawi civilians and assets since November 2020. Using lethal weapons, including UAVs, which has callously killed many Saharawi civilians, I’m talking about even civilians from other countries including Algeria and Mauritania. The latest civilians being killed by a Moroccan UAV or drone was on the 25th of October, in the area of Gleibat Elfula and MINURSO personnel were there yesterday investigating this attack. Let me remind you, as I said before, that in a letter addressed to the SG on the 23rd of February 2021, the ambassador of the Moroccan occupying state to the UN asserted that there was – and I quote, ”total absence of any armed conflict” unquote. Let me also remind you that according to the UN Secretary General’s report in 2022, the occupying state of Morocco claims that, and I quote, “has never targeted and will never target civilians” unquote. However, in 2021 and 2022 estimates indicate that 24 civilians, including a 15 year old boy have been killed and 12 wounded by Moroccan UAVs airstrikes. 26 civilian cars and heavy trucks have also been destroyed between 2021 and 2022. Now SG’s report of 2022 mentions an airstrike that took place in early November 2021, in the Bir Lehlu area involving two Algerian trucks, which resulted in the death of three Algerian civilians caused by the explosion of an air to ground munition and the resulting fire. Other aerial strikes and we always talk about in these cases, as reported in the SG’s report, air to ground munitions involving civilians that took place in the Mijek area, all these are in the liberated territories of the Saharawi Republic, and one of them took place even in the vicinity of the MINURSO team site in Aguanit . According to the SG report this year, on the third of November, a MINURSO investigating team visited a site of aerial attack in Mijek area in the liberated territories of the Saharawi Republic, where they observed, the charred remains of five individuals and one destroyed vehicle. On the 13th of January 2023, a MINURSO investigation team visited the site of an aerial strike that occurred on the 12th of January in the Tifarity area in the liberated territory of the Saharawi Republic and observed the remains of one individual and one destroyed vehicle.
On the first of February this year, a MINURSO investigation team visited the site of an earlier strike in Bir Lehlu in the liberated territories of the Saharawi Republic and observed the remains of three individuals alongside one destroyed vehicle. One retaining mining permit and identity card was found at the scene.
Now, if there is no armed conflict in Western Sahara, and the Moroccan occupying forces do not target civilians, the ambassador of the Morocco occupying state did not talk about any civilians in whatever way as they claim, so why does the UN Secretary General state in his observations and recommendations of the year and I quote, “it also remains essential that the royal Moroccan army” – that’s the occupying Moroccan forces, -“refrain from conducting military activities that have an impact on civilians and directly or indirectly affect MINURSO’s operations”.
These are the facts reflected not by me or the Frente Polisario but by the Secretary General, the occupying state of Morocco has been targeting deliberately civilians using lethal weapons including UAV’s to callously kill Saharawi civilians, and even civilians from neighboring countries, including Algerians and Mauritanians. These are the facts, I’m not talking about what Moroccan media reports, because their credibility is at the same level of the credibility of their representative at the United Nations, which I have just shown, what kind of credibility is that.
Journalist: So, last question, I understand that you have the same right to retaliate with the same civilian targets.
Ambassador Sidi Omar: The Frente Polisario and based on its values, and full compliance with the rules of international humanitarian law has never targeted any civilians in its war of liberation against Morocco. Its decades long record attests to this. And we challenge anyone to prove the contrary. I think everybody knows that our liberation struggle has always been engaged on the basis of resisting illegal occupation of our land. We have never targeted any civilians, but who is targeting civilians is the one that the Secretary General is talking about. And I invite all of you to read the Secretary General’s report to know exactly who is targeting Saharawi civilians and civilians from neighboring states including as I said, Algeria and Mauritania.
Thank you very much for your attention. Thank you very much, Ambassador. All the best