Moroccan crack-down against group of Saharawi activists
According to the Saharawi press service UPES, hundreds of Moroccan settlers, backed by the police, have attacked a group of 11 Saharawi human rights activists upon their arrival at the airport of the occupied capital of Western Sahara. The activists were reportedly heavily beaten and stripped naked under the orders of the Moroccan police.
The victims are: - Sidi Mohamed Dadach (24 years imprisonment) - Sukeina Jad Ahlu (12 years in Moroccan secret detention camp) - Najat Khneibili (10 years in Moroccan secret detention camp) - Ms. Sultana Khaya - Ms. Aajina Bouhan - Ms. Fakka Abdadi - Mr. Hamada Ismaili - Mr. Hasanna El Wali - Mr. El Mahjoub Aoulad Cheikh - Mrs. Ameilmnin Sueyah - Ms. Fadah Aghla Manhum
The foreign observers accompanying the group are said to have been hindered in their attempt to return on the same plane as the activists.
The activists were returning from a visit to the Saharawi refugee camps in Tindouf, southwest Algeria. Official Saharawi sources claim they've met up with their relatives and assessed the living conditions in the camps.
A group of 7 Saharawi human rights activists, who made the same trip last September, was arrested by the Moroccan authorities at the airport of Casablanca on 8 October 2009. They are currently in Salé prison waiting to face a military court and a possible death sentence - the penalty for the crime they’re accused of: treason.
Five of these seven activists started a hunger strike on 18 March, claiming their fundamental rights as prisoners of conscience. Dozens of other imprisoned Saharawi activists have joined their starvation protest.
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.