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Sahrawi Gandhi

As PN went to press, Western Sahara human rights activist Aminatou Haidar was entering the second week of a hunger strike at Lanzarote airport. Haidar was protesting against her deportation from her homeland by Morocco, which has been illegally occupying Western Sahara since 1975.
Moroccan authorities arrested Haidar on 13 November on her arrival from Spain’s Canary Islands, as she returned from a human rights prize award ceremony in the US (see PN 2515).
Haidar, who is called the “Sahrawi Gandhi” for her nonviolent resistance to the Moroccan occupation, refused to declare her nationality as “Moroccan” on the airport arrival form, putting her address as “Western Sahara”.
Immigration officials confiscated her passport and immediately deported her to Spain, which then refused to let her leave Lanzarote for Morocco without travel papers.
Haidar spoke to a conference from Lanzarote airport by telephone, saying: “It is true that this hunger strike is about the individual right of one person to return to her home and her family but it also about the collective right denied to the Saharawi people to live freely in their native land.”
Western Sahara Campaign UK, 01974 282575; www. wsahara.org.uk

Topics: Western Sahara