See also:
19.01.2011 - Moroccan report confirms "killing of 352 Saharawis"
17.06.2010 - Sahrawi refugee to court: "I'm not a slave"
11.02.2010 - Morocco-Polisario revive talks
03.02.2010 - New talks on Western Sahara in US
18.12.2009 - Sahara activist allowed back home
11.12.2009 - UN chief intevening in Saharawi activist cause
17.11.2009 - Unblock foreign visits to Sahrawi activists, HRW
09.11.2009 - Campaign against plundering of W/Sahara resources launched











China wholesale online through DHgate.com
Western Sahara | Morocco
Society | Human rights | Politics

Western Sahara activists released, re-arrested in riots

afrol News, 27 March - Following a visit to occupied Western Sahara by Moroccan King Mohammed VI this weekend, 30 Sahrawi prisoners were released by royal pardon. The pro-independence freed Sahrawis were given a heroes' welcome in the towns of El Aaiun and Smara, which turned into popular riots demanding the release of other 37 activists. During the clashes with Moroccan police, where several persons were injured, more Sahrawis were arrested. Activists speak of almost 100 detentions, while Morocco recognises four.

Sahrawis had pinned some hope to the Moroccan King's visit to the occupied territory, as this is usually accompanied with a gesture such as an amnesty. A large number of Sahrawis are currently in Moroccan detention, allegedly being tortured, due to their participation in a popular uprising last year. Many hoped the five-day visit of the little-loved monarch at least would lead to the release of their family member.

The limited amnesty therefore provoked disappointment. "Only 30 Sahrawi prisoners were released by the Moroccan government," while "37 others are still sequestrated in the Moroccan prisons," added to "more than 500 disappeared and 151 prisoners of war, whose fate remains unknown," yesterday said Khalil Sidi Emhamed, a Minister in the exiled Sahrawi government, based in Algerian refugee camps.

As the Sahrawi prisoners were released from the infamous Black Jail of El Aaiun, the capital of Western Sahara, they were given a warm and joyful welcome by demonstrators and family members, many waving the outlawed flag of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. Celebrations broke out in front of the Black Jail and in other Western Sahara towns - including Dakhla, Smara and Boujdour - as the released prisoners found their way home.

In El Aaiun, however, the joyful crowd yesterday was met by officers of Morocco's secret police, hindering them from receiving the released prisoners. There were clashes between the protesters and police agents, which according to Sahrawi activists not wanting their names published, resulting in two injured civilians, including one Sahrawi woman.

The celebrations later turned into anti-Moroccan protests and riots in both El Aaiun and Smara, where the flag-waving Sahrawis were met by armed Moroccan police troops. Activists started throwing stones at the police, which needed several hours to get the situation under control.

According to the unnamed Sahrawi activist based in El Aaiun, the celebrating protesters were met with violence by the police. During and after yesterday's clashes, more than 90 persons had been arrested and more than 40 persons, including Moroccan policemen, had been injured.

During the evening, calm returned to El Aaiun, but only for a few hours. During the night, as electricity was cut for unknown reasons during 25 minutes, activists were again animated to take to the streets. Hundreds walked through the dark centre of El Aaiun, shouting "no to autonomy, yes to independence," in reference to the current Moroccan diplomatic initiative to have the UN accept an autonomy plan. As lights were turned on, activists peacefully returned home.

Moroccan authorities have not commented on the riots in Western Sahara, but the kingdom's official news agency MAP, claims that the clashes were of a much lesser scale than alleged by several Sahrawi sources. According to MAP, there had only been one incident in the north-eastern town of Smara, where "agitators" had destroyed the celebrations of a family receiving its released son, Othmani El-loud Emman.

"Six persons, including policemen, were injured by the assailants, four of whom were arrested," MAP reports, holding this was the only incident in Western Sahara during Sunday. The official Moroccan news agency further claims that residents of Smara generally had opposed "these provocations" and urged the police to arrest the activists. Sahrawi sources instead claim the "brutal police intervention" in Smara even went against the family of the released prisoner, whose mother had been injured, causing popular uproar.


- Create an e-mail alert for Western Sahara news
- Create an e-mail alert for Morocco news
- Create an e-mail alert for Society news
- Create an e-mail alert for Human rights news
- Create an e-mail alert for Politics news


 
    Printable version


On the Afrol News front page now

Rwanda
Rwanda succeeds including citizens in formal financial sector

afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
South Sudan | Sudan
Famine warning: "South Sudan is imploding"

afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
Guinea
Panic in West Africa after Ebola outbreak in Guinea

afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
Ethiopia
Ethiopia tightens its already strict anti-gay laws

afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
Ethiopia
Ethiopia plans Africa's biggest dam

afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.



front page | news | countries | archive | currencies | news alerts login | about afrol News | contact | advertise | español 

©  afrol News. Reproducing or buying afrol News' articles.

   You can contact us at mail@afrol.com