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News Archive 2009
News Archive 2008

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Mass Grave Revealed in Western Sahara

A new report documents the discovery of eight executed Sahrawis in Western Sahara. The executions have not previously been known and shed light on Morocco’s secrecy with regard to previous disappearances.
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grave1_250.jpgIn February 1976 six adults and two children were arrested by Moroccan military patrols and executed with firearms on the spot before being buried in shallow graves in sand and stones. A shepherd recently discovered human remains in the Fadret Leguiaa area, in the part of Western Sahara over which the liberation movement Polisario itself has control.

Now a new report sheds light on what happened to the group.

On 10 September 2013, a Spanish group of researchers from the University of the Basque Country and the Aranzadi Society of Sciences published a report that documents that the remains found are those of the Sahrawis who disappeared in 1976. The researchers made a thorough examination of circumstances around the incident – among other things, by using DNA tests and interviewing the next of kin.
Download the report here.

The report sheds new light on old abuses and has been received with great interest by the population of Western Sahara. It was presented in Rabat by Vice President Ghalia Djimi of the organization Association Sahraouie des Victimes des Violations Graves des Droits de l’Homme Commises par l’Etat du Maroc (ASVDH).

“We have waited for 7 years for an answer to a letter we sent to the Moroccan authorities about what happened to our relatives,” Djimi told AFP new agency (read article here).

This week the researchers and relatives of those who disappeared will present the findings to the UN Commission on Human Rights.

grave2_250.jpgThe eight disappearances that are taken up in the report did not appear in the work of the Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IEC) established by Moroccan authorities in 2004, which focuses on, among other things, forced disappearances. Four of these incidents were examined by the Advisory Council on Human Rights (CCDH), which is a national Moroccan human rights institution that follows up IEC cases. In the discussion of the case by the IEC, it was ascertained that the four who disappeared were arrested near Amgala and then imprisoned in Smara, where they later died. The IEC’s and the CCDH’s work has always been criticized by the Sahrawis because they have not studied the Moroccan abuses of the Sahrawis thoroughly.

Amnesty International emphasizes, in a statement before the weekend, the importance of securing the evidence used in the investigation.

“The diverging conclusions about four of the eight Sahrawis who disappeared – as explained by the CCDH on the one hand and by the Spanish team on the other – raise questions about the accuracy of the conclusions published by the CCDH about all the other cases of forced disappearance,” Amnesty commented.

More than 500 Sahrawis are supposed to have disappeared since Morocco occupied parts of Western Sahara.

Because of the tension and lack of confidence between Moroccan authorities and Polisario, Amnesty wants an independent and impartial investigation of the disappearances in order to hold the culprits accountable. In addition, Amnesty wants the UN, as an independent body, to take care of such an investigation. This may also make it possible that Moroccan authorities could reopen other cases that they previously had wanted to conceal both for the Sahrawis and for the international community.

Amnesty points out that in an area where collaboration between the parties is quite unlikely it is important that the UN may step in and ensure just treatment with regard to both the victims and the relatives.



15.02 - 2016 / 15.02 - 2016Hunger striking to demand education
13.02 - 2014 / 13.02 - 2014Saharawi journalists jailed for covering protests and plunder
14.11 - 2013 / 14.11 - 2013Morocco hinders Saharawi activist's vital surgery
19.09 - 2013 / 19.09 - 2013Mass Grave Revealed in Western Sahara
31.05 - 2013 / 31.05 - 2013Dutch vessel transporting resources from occupied Western Sahara
10.03 - 2011 / 10.03 - 2011Parties Conclude Another Round of Talks
25.02 - 2011 / 25.02 - 2011Hungering for justice: Saharawi political prisoners on hunger strike
11.02 - 2011 / 11.02 - 2011Take Action for Human Rights Monitoring in Western Sahara
11.02 - 2011 / 11.02 - 2011Germany indicts alleged Moroccan spy
19.12 - 2010 / 19.12 - 2010So much for human rights
27.05 - 2010 / 27.05 - 2010Amnesty International's annual report: Morocco / Western Sahara
18.05 - 2010 / 18.05 - 2010Moroccan court bails three Western Sahara activists
17.05 - 2010 / 17.05 - 2010Guinness World Records challenged over Moroccan flag stunt
08.05 - 2010 / 08.05 - 2010Beware the Warnings of al Qaeda
06.05 - 2010 / 06.05 - 2010The arms sellers countries extend the conflict in Western Sahara
05.05 - 2010 / 05.05 - 2010Fate abducted Saharawi citizen still unknown
29.04 - 2010 / 29.04 - 2010Second Tier Titans clash on Human Rights in Western Sahara
28.04 - 2010 / 28.04 - 2010France opposing Security Council on Human Rights
27.04 - 2010 / 27.04 - 2010Spain in favour of human rights monitoring in Western Sahara?
22.04 - 2010 / 22.04 - 2010European Parliamentarians demand release WS political prisoners

Africa's last colony Since 1975, three quarters of the Western Sahara territory has been illegally occupied by Morocco. The original population lives divided between those suffering human rights abuses under the Moroccan occupation and those living in exile in Algerian refugee camps. For more than 40 years, the Saharawi await the fulfilment of their legitimate right to self-determination.
Trailer: Western Sahara, Africa's last colony


Have a look at this teaser for the upcoming documentary "Western Sahara, Africa's last colony". Coming soon.
Book: International Law and the Question of Western Sahara


To our knowledge the first collective book on the legal aspects of the Western Sahara conflict. Available in English and French.