Self-determination: Desperate Saharawi Youth

Tanja Siedelmann 12.02.2012 10:58 Themen: Militarismus Weltweit
Western Sahara is the last colony on the African continent. The international right to self-determination didn’t seem like a valid enough option for half a million Saharawis. Their country is still occupied by Morocco. Since 1975, nearly 200.000 refugees have had to live in camps under the harshest of conditions.
This article contains the opininon of representives of Saharawi Student Union (UESARIO)about the needed strategie to realise self-determination of Saharawi people.
The Frente POLISARIO fought against Morocco between 1975 and 1991, then the UNO agreed upon a cease-fire to organize a referendum, but this referendum has never come to light. Now many people, especially the youth, are pressuring their government to return to war and bring this forgotten conflict to an end. They don't want to die endlessly waiting in the desert for the United Nations to take action and they have lost trust in the UN. They would rather die fighting for the independence of their people.

Tanja Siedelmann (TS): Mahfoud, what 's the position of the Student Union concerning the strategy of POLISARIO to go on negotiating? Do you also ask for war?

Mahfoud Mohamed Lamin Bechri (MMLB): Most of the students don't care about peace and negotiations. They say that peace has not brought anything for the Saharawi people since 1991. Nearly all of the students are not satisfied by the POLISARIO following the UN- Program of peace. They believe that the only solution to get self-determination and independence is to go back to an armed struggle and they want this to be decided at the POLISARIO Front’s congress in December. This is the only decision that can help us put pressure on Morocco and the international community to give back our right to self-determination.

TS: How do you organize to pass this decision at congress?

MMLB: We have no specific plan. But nearly all the student representives of agree on this position. We will make a claim, and ask that the POLISARIO Front go back to war. Peace hasn’t brought anything up to now. In our war from 1973 to 1991 we put so much pressure on this country to accept the self-determination of the Saharawi people. Morocco signed the cease-fire agreement to waste our time, to make sure that there is no independent Western Sahara. There hasn't been progress in 20 years. It seems that they only understand by force and arms. Morocco will not accept the right to self-determination of Saharawi people unless we change our manner of dealing with them.

The students can’t imagine another 20 years in this difficult situation. Saharawis in the refugee-camps are living a hard life. They are suffering from many problems. They are living in the most inhospitable desert of the world. They are suffering from so many problems and diseases, including the summer heat which reaches incredible degrees nearly (50 degrees C°) and cold winters cold. Our weak homes and tents (khaymas) cannot withstand the hard sand storms and tough conditions. There are not enough hospitals, a medical specialists, or medication.

Our families in the occupied territories are also suffering. There is a lack of human rights, and there is torture under Moroccan authorities. This suffering must be stopped one way or another. The POLISARIO Front must make a clear decision to stop this suffering. We are not afraid of a war. We are afraid of the situation in which we are living now.

We have to make the international community remember us. They have to remember this case, but it is us who must make them remember. They have totally forgotten this conflict which is easy to solve, just by obeying the international law in which they will find the Saharawi people’s right to self-determination.

Maybe a war can force them to make a deal and to act. They have to organize this self-determination - the referendum they expected to organize nearly 20 years ago. It's our human right to be free. Everybody has the right to express what they want, what they expect from the future and the world. Let the Saharawi people choose for themselves if they want to have their own independent state or be a part of Morocco.

TS: What do you expect from people who are already supporting the Saharawi people?

MMLB: Our message to humanitarian organizations, cooperatives, and to people and friends who support our struggle for justice is not to stop helping the Saharawi people. To come and see the situation in which Saharawi people are living both in the camps and in the occupied zones. They should help with all the efforts, as much as they can, even if we go back to war, because it is a fight for our right to life, freedom and independence.

Questions: Tanja Siedelmann
Answers: Mahfoud Mohamed Lamin Bechri, UESARIO, representative of Tlemcen University Algeria

Rabuni, 12.12.2011


Vision of the Saharawi Student Union (UESARIO) to the political situation after the congress of Frente POLISARIO 2011

Saleh Mohamed Sidi Mustafa, responsible of cooperation department, UESARIO (national):

"We feel of a deep disappointment because we went to the congress there with an opinion
that the political solutions do not work with a stubborn colonialism that depend on the blind support of France and the complicity of the international community, we tried such policies along more than 20 years without any results but the on going suffering of our parents who lost their spring years in exile as refugees, begging others to help them and feeling useless since they are not able to fulfill their children dreams.

We tried the long peace process and the big round of talks and negotiations. At last what happened? The Saharawi in the occupied territories are still live in a the big prison in our history. Oppressing, facing a systematic operation of assassination, putting in jails as goats, their natural resources are still stealing what led their sons fled abroad in seeking for new jobs and better future but they forgot that they are jailed, some fled toward the canary islands then they died in the sea, some fled eastward the liberated territories then be bombed by the mine fields along the wall. And those who are lucky choose to go on their studies at Moroccan universities, where some of them were jail after they protested against their colleague’s assassination in April 2011. They are in jail since that date, their trial has postponed for three times.

To sum up. We went to the congress to impose the hard option because we see no hope in soft options. We defend in favour of our convention and made our effort to make the others follow us. At the end the majority sees that the surrounding area is witnessing a peaceful operation for liberation and in gaining political and social rights, so we have to strength our intifada and our diplomatic action in order to make the world recognize our right to self-determination. Then we found ourselves the minority that should accept and respect democratically the opinion of the majority and we have also to be satisfied with that.

We think the next term demands many things from us, and the first thing that we should do is to strength our organization in order to make the oppressed Saharawi voice heard in the world institutions. What we want to do:

Engaging in demonstrations against the Moroccan embassies in Europe and all over the world, in order to aware the attention of the civil society about the oppression that the Saharawi people is facing by the Moroccan occupation.
Aware the attention of the UN institutions about the dramatic situation, and the violation of human rights in the occupied territories of Western Sahara.
Protesting against the accords between Morocco and European institutions that don’t respect the Saharawi people rights in self- determination and those economic accords that encouraging the stealing of the Saharawi natural resources.
As a young generation who grow up in the atmosphere of democracy and respect of human rights in the countries that we studied in like the European countries, we really believe in the weapons of mass democracy and we want to involve social movements in European countries in mobilization campaigns for the respect of human rights, social and cultural rights of the Saharawi people in order to stop the international community to give us a blind eye.

We need the cooperation of people who defend human and international rights and believe in the power of the right instead of the right of the power."

Rabuni, 09.02.2012
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