Morocco and its lobbyists are concerned neither with the truth nor the death of innocent people. Rather this is a transparent effort to divert attention from Morocco’s illegal occupation of the Western Sahara and its gross abuses of the rights of the Saharawi people. The International Court of Justice has ruled that Morocco has no legitimate territorial claim to the Western Sahara, but Morocco continues to flout international law in an effort to extend its borders by force.
The United Nations has passed more than 60 resolutions guaranteeing the Saharawi the right to self-determination, yet Morocco has stymied every effort by the international community to conduct a referendum on independence for the Western Sahara.
During the past few years Moroccan authorities have committed grievous human rights abuses against Saharawi in the occupied territory, including torture, extrajudicial killing, and disappearances. These abuses are well-documented in the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights, as well as human rights reports by such respected non-governmental organizations as Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, and Amnesty International.
In recognition of the gravity of Morocco’s abuses, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights bestowed its prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award on Ms. Aminatou Haidar, a Saharawi human rights defender who was imprisoned for years for her peaceful efforts to promote the rights of the Saharawi. Just last month, Moroccan authorities fought efforts by the United Nations to have a U.N. mission undertake human rights monitoring in the portion of the Western Sahara occupied by Morocco.
It is the profound hope of the Saharawi people that the conflict in Libya is resolved soon so that the suffering of its people will end, and the country will have the opportunity to pursue political, social, and economic progress, from which our whole region will benefit.
Mouloud Said is a Polisario Representative for the people of the Western Sahara.