19 Saharawi activists continue to be unjustly imprisoned for their involvement in a nonviolent protest camp in Western Sahara in 2010, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International reminded us on 8 November.
The Gdeim Izik camp grew to house more than 5,000 Saharawis nonviolently protesting against discrimination, poverty and human rights abuses under Moroccan occupation. Morocco has illegally occupied Western Sahara since 1975.
When Moroccan forces brutally broke up the tent city, 11 police officers died, and 25 organisers arrested the day before the police action were convicted for deaths that occurred after they had been arrested. They had been tortured into ‘confessions’. 19 remain in prison.
Lama Fakih, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said: ‘The passage of time has only heightened the injustice in this case.’
Most of the Gdeim Izik 19 are being held in prisons at least 1,000 kilometres from Layoune, the city most of them are from. They have more than 10 years to go in prison.
On 10 October, an arts festival was held in Saharawi refugee camps to mark the 12th anniversary of the first Gdeim Izik tent going up.
- You may want to write a polite letter about the Gdeim Izik 19 to His Excellency, Hakim Hajoui, Ambassador of Morocco, Embassy of Morocco, 6 Grosvenor Gardens, London SW1W 0DH. For the Amnesty report and more info: www.tinyurl.com/peacenews3964 and www.tinyurl.com/peacenews3965
- In other news, the Saharawi human rights activist Sultana Khaya (PN 2661) is still safe and well and speaking out in Europe.