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Petitie IPJET en SZWS dekolonisatiecommissie VN

09-10-2011

West-Sahara is de laatste kolonie van Afrika. Jaarlijks buigt de dekolonisatiecommissie van de VN zich hierover. Hieronder staat de tekst van de petitie die IPJET (International Platform of Jurists for East Timor) en Stichting Zelfbeschikking West-Sahara gezamenlijk uitgeven.

Madame Chairperson, distinguished delegates,

I wish to thank you for the opportunity to speak before this Committee on behalf of the International Platform of Jurists for East Timor; a NGO made up of 660 law professors, judges, attorneys and other jurists from more than 80 countries. I am also speaking on behalf of the Stichting Zelfbeschikking West-Sahara; an association established under Dutch law for the defense of the right to self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.

Madame Chairperson,

Since October of last year, when this Committee held hearings of petitioners on the question of Western Sahara, many events took place that left Morocco even more isolated in its stance on the conflict. Let me pass in review some of those events.

Aminatou Haidar, called by many the "Sahrawi Gandhi" for her non-violent protests, who had been awarded with several prizes before and after her successful hunger strike, including the prestigious Robert Kennedy Human Rights Award and the Civil Courage Prize, won since last October many other prizes and honorary citizenships. One of those awards, the “University of Coimbra Medal”, was given in November by the Portuguese educational institution for her attitude and civic actuations in defense of human rights in Western Sahara. Worth noticing is that the University of Coimbra had already awarded a Medal to the East Timorese Bishop Belo and José Ramos-Horta in 1997. Ramos-Horta is now the President of Timor-Leste.

In November, Moroccan military forces dismantled the Gdeim Izik protest camp near El Ayun, resulting in dozens of deaths. The brutal violence was condemned by the African Union, the European Parliament, the UN Security Council and by many human rights organizations. Aminatou’s hunger strike and the Gdeim Izik protest camp definitively broke the silence that surrounded the human rights violations in the occupied territory.

The peaceful Arab uprisings in the beginning of 2011, like wild fire, quickly spread to Morocco. More, they overthrew dictatorships that supported Morocco’s irredentist claims to Western Sahara. And as the world-renowned Prof. Noam Chomsky rightly remarked, “the current wave of protests actually began last November in Western Sahara”.

The independence of South Sudan on 9 July, immediately followed by the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Sahrawi Republic, caused another headache to the government of Morocco. South Sudan became a member of the United Nations and joined the African Union in the same month. Morocco’s isolation became even more pronounced: it continues to be the only country in Africa that is excluded from its regional organization.

The striking similarities between the questions of Palestine and the Western Sahara were pointed out by several scholars, including Prof. Juan Soroeta Liceras, of the University of the Bask Country: illegal occupations, two walls of shame, the violation of the right to self-determination and other human rights of both peoples, the installation of settlers in the occupied territories, to mention a few. The very recent Palestinian bid for full UN membership must have been a nightmare for the government of Morocco, despite the lipservice it pays to the move. As the Moroccan-American Center for Policy, the Moroccan government’s official mouthpiece in Washington, admits in its website, “Israel's relations with Morocco have historically been friendlier than with any other Arab country”. Indeed, friendship of Israel went to the point of assisting Morocco in the construction of its wall of shame in the occupied Western Sahara.

The prolongation of the infamous EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement is another matter that worries Rabat. The agreement was, and still is, illegal, but in 2006 the European Council had given its approval and only Sweden opposed it. Three months ago, on the decision of prolonging the agreement for one year only, also Denmark and the Netherlands voted against, while four other States abstained. Their position was based on a legal opinion of the European Parliament stating that the agreement violated international law for failing to take into account the wishes and interests of the Saharawi people.

Madame Chairperson,

The current gross human rights violations against Sahrawis in Dakhla, including the use of militias, recruited under Moroccan settlers and backed by the military, reminds me what I witnessed twelve years ago in East Timor. The killings, abductions and destruction of property are probably occurring at the very moment that I speak and clearly show the cruelty and the despair of the Moroccan occupying forces.

WAELE, a NGO represented in 46 African countries, organized last week in Abuja, Nigeria, an important conference on ‘the struggle of Saharawi women for freedom’. This extraordinary and moving example of solidarity of African women with the women of Western Sahara will certainly bear fruit. The Moroccan regime is warned.

Thank you, Madame Chairperson.

Lees ook: >> IPJET en SZWS geven verklaring uit voor de Dekolonisatiecommissie van de VN>> SZWS geeft verklaring uit voor Dekolonisatiecommissie van de VN


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