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Polisario Front

What the world needs to know about Western Sahara

 

 

By Amira Ali

 

May 12, 2017
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Pambazuka News — For more than 40 years, Morocco has forcefully and illegally occupied Western Sahara despite provisions of international law that recognize the country’s sovereignty. The suffering but resolute Saharawi people, especially the younger generation, are getting impatient with endless colonialism. African people and all who value human dignity and freedom must stand up in solidarity with Western Sahara by demanding an end to Moroccan occupation.

 

Western Sahara: recent developments in light of the UN Security Council decision

 

 

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon, left, arrives for a meeting with the Polisario Front's representative at the U.N. in Bir-Lahlou, in the disputed territory of Western Sahara, March 5.

 

By Hassan Abenay

 

Western Sahara: ‘No one will give us our freedom’

[Click HERE for more on the struggle of the people of Western Sahara.]

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim and Laura Gilbie

March 11, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- After two decades of political deadlock, Africa’s oldest refugee population is losing faith in UN mandated peace negotiations.

“No one will give us our freedom — we must take it!,” Sahrawi journalist Embarka Elmehdi Said told Green Left Weekly. Said sees little hope for a peaceful resolution to the crisis that has gripped Western Sahara since its independence from Spain in the 1970s.

A child when her family fled the Moroccan invasion of Western Sahara in 1975, Said has spent most of her life in the Polisario run refugee camps on the Western Sahar-Algeria border.

Her two sons, aged 12 and three, have spent all their lives in the camps.

Western Sahara: `We want to go back to our country. Nothing will stop us wanting our rights'

Tagiyou Aslama. Photo by Alan Bain.

Tony Iltis interviews Tagiyou Aslama

March 20, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly -- Western Sahara is the last country in Africa awaiting decolonisation. Invaded by Spain in the late 19th century, in the early 1970s mass mobilisations heralded the birth of the modern independence movement. In 1973, Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (Polisario Front) was established to wage an armed independence struggle.

By 1975, the dying days of the Franco dictatorship, the Spain had been fought to a standstill. However, rather than allow independence, Spain made an agreement with neighbouring countries, Morocco and Mauritania, whereby these countries would occupy Western Sahara while Madrid would retain access to its maritime resources.

Many Saharawi fled to refugee camps on the border with Algeria. However, most of the men returned to fight for independence. On February 27, 1976, the Polisario Front declared the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).

Polisario Front briefing paper on the question of Western Sahara

By the Polisario Front

October 2009

1. Western Sahara (the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic) is located in northwest Africa and covers an area of 266,000 square kilometres. It is bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the northeast and Mauritania to the East and southeast and has a 1,200-kilometre-long Atlantic Ocean coastline. The Saharawi Republic was proclaimed on 27 February 1976; its capital is El Aaiún.

2. In the pre-colonial times, the Saharawis lived as one independent community and developed their own cultural forms of expression and socio-political organisations; it was these idiosyncratic elements that constituted the distinctiveness of the Saharawi society over the centuries. The Saharawi are known for being a tolerant, open and peaceful society that has never been involved in any form of political or religious extremism.

Australia: Damage on many fronts in false charge of slavery in Western Sahara

Fetim Sallem.

A documentary on Western Sahara refugees marks a low point, Kamal Fadel writes.

July 1, 2009 -- Last month in Sydney, the notion of democracy took a pounding. The launch of the documentary Stolen at the Sydney Film Festival marked a low point in local film culture, and signified the tenuous grip on truth we now have in contemporary society. That such a film should be financed with about A$350,000 of public money –- through Screen Australia -– and accepted by the prestigious festival raises questions about the nature of reality and on how it is depicted in mainstream media, such as through the medium of the film documentary.

The film purports, in a sensationalistic way, to reveal widespread evidence of racially based slavery in the Saharawi refugee camps on the Western Sahara-Algeria border. Central to the apparent scoop is an interview with Fetim Sallem, a 36-year-old mother of four. She was in Australia to explain her story, which is significantly at odds with the film's take on it (so much so that Fetim requested unsuccessfully to have her interviews removed from the film).

Western Saharan minister: `Only one solution -- our return to our sovereign homeland'

27 February refugee camp, south-west Algeria

November 29, 2008 -- In October, a three-member delegation of Australian trade unionists visited the Saharawi (Western Saharan) refugee camps in the Hamada desert, south-west Algeria. Western Sahara has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975.Green Left Weekly/LinksMargarita Windisch spoke with Sid’Ahmed Tayeb, the minister of public health for the exiled Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, when she visited the 27 February refugee camp.

The Saharawi refugee camps have now existed for close to 33 years in extremely inhumane surroundings. What has led to the Saharawis becoming refugees and what are the challenges facing the Saharawi people?

First, I would like to thank you very much for your visit. It shows us that we are not alone. This is important support that international community can give us.

A brief history of the Western Saharan people’s struggle for freedom

A Saharawi fighter on May 20, 2008, at a parade
to mark 35th anniversary of the Polisario Front. Photo by EPA/MOHAMED MESSARA.

By Margarita Windisch

[Read more on the Western Saharan people's struggle HERE.]

Spain colonised Western Sahara and its mostly nomadic people in 1884 claiming it as a protectorate of the Spanish Crown. Spanish rule over Western Sahara was codified in Berlin in 1885, where Africa was carved up among the European powers. The period of Spanish rule was marked by ongoing resistance, revolts and armed clashes with the indigenous population, with its liberation movements being brutally repressed by the Spanish authorities.

A 1966 UN resolution called for Saharawi people’s right to self-determination to be exercised via a referendum which never eventuated. The lack of political developments led to the formation of Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro (the Polisario Front) in 1973. Polisario was conceived as a nationalist front with the aim of achieving independence, and encompassed all Saharawi political trends.

Trade unionists call for solidarity with Western Sahara

UGTSARIO congress delegates

By Margarita Windisch

The 6th Congress of the Western Sahara General Union of Saguia El Hamra and Rio de Oro Workers (UGTSARIO) took place from October 19-21, 2008, in El Aaiun, one of four Saharawi refugee camps in the Hamada desert in south-west Algeria.

The brutally harsh Hamada desert, justifiably termed the most inhospitable place on Earth, has become the home away from home for more than 160,000 Saharawi refugees since Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara in 1975.

Three Australian trade unionists (two from the Australian Workers Union --AWU -- and one from the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance -- MEAA) travelled thousands of kilometres to attend the congress and participate in the 4th International Trade Union Conference in Solidarity with the Western Saharan Workers, which was convened as part of the 6th UGTSARIO congress. All three were also members of the Australian Western Sahara Association.

UGTSARIO congress

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