- Two students of the southern Moroccan university in Agadir of Western Saharan origin have been killed, four others being injured. What government calls "an accident" has been termed "an assassination" by Saharawis, who are organising protest marches.
The young Saharawi students - Baba Abdelaziz Khaya (22) and Lheussein Abdsadek Lakteif (20) - yesterday were killed by a Moroccan bus that drove right on them and a group of other Saharawi students during a sit-in at the bus stop. The students were protesting the bus company's reluctance to transport them home freely to the Id celebrations, claiming they were discriminated against.
According to Moroccan authorities, which only reacted today, the incident was a tragic accident. It had been caused by the protesting students, which had surrounded the bus and thus caused the driver to lose his overview of the traffic situation. This had resulted in his losing control of the vehicle and fatal crashing into the students, authorities hold.
Pro-Saharawi groups however hold this cannot be true as the "incident" fits only too well into a greater pattern of suppression of Saharawi students in Morocco. According to human rights organisations in Western Sahara, the bus driver "drove fast towards the demonstrators to kill the two students" and injure others.
Three others were severely injured as the bus hit the protesting student crowd. Among these, Abouh Alkharachi was reported to be in coma in a hospital in Agadir. Five more students reportedly had suffered minor injuries due to the crash.
Also Saharawi student activist Rabab Amidane holds that the incident had been planned. According to testimonies from Agadir students she had interviewed, the bus driver "was given the order [by the police] to go ahead towards the students who were sitting in the protest." Ms Amidane says there had been prior contacts between the Agadir police and the bus company. Even prior to the incident, "the police were surrounding the bus station," she holds.
But also the aftermath of the lethal incident is suspicious, according to pro-Saharawi groups. "The bus driver escaped immediately after committing the crime," Ms Amidane reports. Further, she says, police entered the Agadir bus station "immediately after the crime," beating up students protesting there and detaining 11 protesters.
Also according to human rights organisations in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara, the killings could not have been accidentally, as they fit into a long pattern of attacks on Saharawi students in Morocco. Further, a large number of Saharawis fighting for their rights had been tortured and killed by Moroccan troops and police during the last few years, these sources hold. UN human rights reports on Morocco have gone a long way to sustain these reports.
According to Ms Amidane, Saharawi students would be "continuing our peaceful struggle for independence and justice." The rather prominent Saharawi activist has already revealed plans for further demonstrations in Agadir, where Saharawi students will demand justice. A demand for justice among this student group includes demands for investigations into the death of Saharawi activists, but also for the right to express of a free Western Sahara, which is currently forbidden in Morocco.
The Saharawis, above all, want international attention for their case. "We, together with the martyrs students' families, are demanding that the international community, human rights organisations, international courts will follow this serious case," Ms Amidane says.
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