Western Sahara, another year of occupation and cut-off rights

Prensa Latina
January 10, 2016

The year 2015 concluded without the Saharan people discerning the end of the occupation of Morocco, or a decision by the UN Security Council that leads to materializing its right to independence.

Despite being among the 17 cases analyzed by the UN Special Committee on Decolonization, resolutions, statements and clear world support to self-determination in the Western Sahara has not changed a bit in the last 12 months.

Violations of the human rights of the people in Western Sahara by Moroccan occupants are a shame on the United Nations, Polisario Front representative to the UN Ahmed Buhari warned in an interview with the news agency Prensa Latina.

The ambassador said those violations are a consequence of an occupation prolonged for four decades, in a clear violation of the right to self-determination.

According to the diplomat, the coming months will be very important to the Sahrawi people, because UN Special Envoy for Western Sahara Christopher Ross will travel to the region in January and then UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will do it for the first time.

It will be an acid test for Morocco, which has banned the presence of Ross in the Sahrawi territories, because it will allow seeing how much it will be able to hinder the peace process, he said.

Rabat denies the Western Saharan people of the right to independence putting forward different arguments, and especially to a referendum on self-determination, fostered by the United Nations.

According to Buhari, the international community supports that solution, except France, a power with a permanent seat in the Security Council, which does not support the so-demanded direct negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario Front in a serious and trustworthy atmosphere to solve the dispute.

Human rights

In the last decade, countries as South Africa, Nigeria, Costa Rica, Panama and Austria have been in favor at the Security Council of including the human rights issue in the mandate of the UN mission for the referendum in the Western Sahara (UNRWS), the only one that does not have it.

The Polisario Front ambassador denounced that France objects this possibility, supported by its power to veto in the 15-member authority.

The world must know that the French slogan that they are the cradle of human rights is a lie, a product sold at the market, depending on the buyer and it is Morocco in this case, he stated.

For the diplomat, it is time for the UN, especially the Security Council, to act in line with the independence aspirations of the Sahrawi people.

With the argument of human rights, they bombed Libya and are bombing Syria, but when it comes to Western Sahara, they forget everything, thanks to France and its effort to maintain a colonialist approach, he remarked.

Buhari asserted that many international authorities have started a campaign for the UNRWS to protect human rights, but the issue is still pending.

The representative of the Polisario Front, an entity with more tan 40 years of struggle for the Sahrawi independence, told the news agency Prensa Latina that another Moroccan serious violation was the illegal exploitation of the natural resources in the occupied territory.

Rabat steals our resources quickly, as previously did the South African apartheid to Namibia and other colonizers to the countries under their dominance, he said.

According to Buhari, rejection of this practice increases in the world, but more progress has to be made among Europeans, who are those that plunder the wealth in Western Sahara.

Danger of terrorism

The threat of violent extremism in the African region of Sahel worries the international community, boosted by instability and the chaos prevailing in Libya, where the Islamic State and other terrorist groups are gaining spaces.

Western Sahara is facing that challenge. Thus, it insists in the urgency of having access to its self-determination, to solve its security problems, besides those related to the economy.

The Sahrawi Arab Republic and the Polisario Front are committed to the defense of the

Regional stability, as long as Morocco cooperates in this reference, independence is essential to us and the rest is a logical consequence of it, Buhari asserted.

According to the ambassador, Morocco has been causing a dangerous degree of instability since 1975 and fundamentalists have been taking advantage of that situation.

Support to the Saharawi cause

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon demanded in early November support for the negotiations the organization is boosting, with the purpose of solving the conflict in Western Sahara and guarantee self-determination for the occupied Sahrawi country.

I request support from al the sides involved and the international community to the efforts by my special envoy Christopher Ross, who is increasing his actions, faced with a genuine negotiation in the coming months, he said in a communique.

Since 1975, after 90 years of Spanish colonialism, Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco, a suffering to which Ban called to put an end.

The secretary general said it was regrettable that nor the proposals in 2007 neither the Security Council resolutions on the issue have stopped the conflict between Morocco and the Polisario Front.

Progress in the negotiations without pre-conditions is urgent, until the Western Saharan people reach their self-determination, he insisted.

The UN was the venue of forums in the second half of 2015, in which the demand for the Sahrawi independence prevailed.

That country's self-determination is a priority to Africa, asserted South African alternate representative Ephraim Leshala Mminele. Four decades later, all the efforts to find a solution to the conflict have failed and the current stagnation increases the tension and chase away the possibility of integration in the Maghreb, he warned.

The South African official reiterated the request to the UN General Assembly of setting a date for the referendum for self-determination in Western Sahara.

We are urging Morocco to stop blocking the referendum, with the intention to keep exploiting the natural resources, he said.

Venezuelan Ambassador to the United Nations Rafael Ramirez called the case of Western Sahara an unfinished process in the global struggle to eradicate colonialism.

Ramirez demanded to stop the delaying practices applied by the occupying power, aimed at preventing the referendum demanded by the international community for the Sahrawi people to decide their status.

Despite all hindrances, the Sahrawi people continues defending bravely their undeniable right to sovereignty and to live with freedom and justice, he asserted.

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