- During the 20 May to 4 June "Intifada" in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara, at least 101 Saharawi protesters were injured by Moroccan security forces, a new report documents. In addition, some 92 Sahrawis claim to have been tortured while in Moroccan detention and more than 20 families saw their homes ruined.
According to a new report written by several of the most prominent human rights activists in occupied Western Sahara, the recent popular uprising in the territory was brutally repressed by armed Moroccan security forces. While protesters were beaten and injured in the streets of El Aaiun and other Sahrawi and Moroccan towns, those detained were allegedly "savagely tortured".
The human rights activists provide a detailed list with the full name of 101 Sahrawis that were severely injured during the protests - termed "Intifada" - including the nature of their injuries and their age. The list includes a large number of teenagers and children as young as twelve years old. Most were injured during a police attack on a peaceful sit-in organised by human rights activists on 25 May.
The report further lists the full name of 93 "kidnapped" persons, who were detained for hours or days by Moroccan security forces. Many of those were Sahrawi students in the Moroccan cities of Rabat, Marrakech and Agadir, while others were demonstrators in the capital of Western Sahara, El Aaiun.
None of these 93 detainees had been registered by the Moroccan police and no charges had been made against them, prompting the human rights activists to refer to them as "kidnapped" persons. Almost all claim to have been "savagely tortured" while in unregistered detention. Torture is systematically used by Moroccan security forces, in particular in the occupied territory.
The report also details the names of several alleged Moroccan torturers, including high-ranking officers of the civilian and military occupation administration. Torture methods had included beating with truncheons on sexual organs, tying up and hanging prisoners by their arms and legs with the stomach down - soldiers would then "beat the prisoner and stand for seconds on his back" - using electricity and the beating of a pregnant women on the stomach.
In addition to those 93 already released, however, a group of 24 Sahrawi activists still imprisoned is causing most concern. Most are held in the infamous "Black Jail" in El Aaiun, known for its terrible record of torture. The detainees - most are between 18 and 25 years old - allegedly already have sustained severe injuries due to weeks of torture.
Further victims of the Moroccan repression of the "Intifada" include a large number of families in Western Sahara and students in Morocco that have seen their homes broken into and mostly destroyed. The 17 homes smashed in El Aaiun includes that of the El Aarabi family, which was punished for providing medical aid to injured Sahrawis. At the university campuses in Marrakech, Rabat and Agadir (Morocco), tens of Sahrawi students saw their rooms demolished and belongings removed.
The report, sent to afrol News today, is signed by more than twenty prominent Sahrawi human rights activists "witnessing and confirming these violations." The activists include Sidi Mohamed Dadach - an ex-political prisoner and winner of the Rafto Prize - and Brahim Noumria, a key member of several local human rights groups.
The popular uprising in the occupied territories had started as peaceful small-scale protests in El Aaiun calling for the respect of human rights. Suddenly, however, large groups of ordinary Sahrawi citizens started taking into the streets calling for an end to the Moroccan occupation. Met with riot police and armed troops, the protests spread to other Sahrawi towns and to several universities in Morocco.
Military reinforcements were brought into Western Sahara and only a large presence of armed Moroccans were able to slowly get control of the territory. According to the report released by the human rights activists today, however, no methods were left out to repress the "Intifada". Attempts by the international press to document the uprising and its repression were harshly rejected; foreign journalists being thrown out of the country.
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