Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Last week Moroccan secret services brutally attacked Saharawi students in the University Qadi Ayad in Marrakesh, while they were organising a peaceful demonstration to demand the Sahrawi peoples right to self-determination and independence.

A similar intervention took place the next day against the Saharawi students in the university Ibn Zuhr in Agadir, where the Saharawi students organised a demonstration of solidarity with their compatriots in Marrakesh.

During the assaults police surrounded the University of Marrakesh and tear gassed students. There were numerous injuries. Many students were beaten up,handcuffed, and jailed.

Also, yesterday the Court of Appeal in Marrakesh, Morocco, decided to postpone the trial of the Saharawi human rights defender Ennaâma Asfari to June 2nd, 2008. The decision was based on a request from Asfari whose lawyers weren't in court since the state had apparently forgotten to inform them about the trial date.

Meanwhile, today some 8,000 Polisario rebels, armed with AK-47 assault rifles, staged a marching procession at a dusty Western Saharan outpost to mark the 35th anniversary of the organization. Tifariti, where the parade was held, is one of six "liberated zones" or military camps on the border area which were won in the war by the rebels.

"We will continue to struggle as we have done for the past 35 years and all options are open," Polisario leader Mohammed Abdelaziz told the gathering.

The following is from The Sahrawi Association of Victims of Grave Human Rights Violations Committed by the Moroccan State (ASVDH)

ASVDH statement on recent Sahrawi demonstrations, Moroccan brutality in Marrakech
20 May 2008

ASVDH has followed with great concern the painful and bloody events that took place at the University Alqadi Ayad in Marrakech, Morocco. Many Saharawi students were the victims of these violations, as well as the related arrest of the Saharawi human rights defender Mr. Ennaâma ASFARI, Co-Chairman of the French Committee for the respect of human rights and freedoms in Western Sahara (Corelso), and members of students from the democracy movement, and others have been victims of brutal attacks which caused serious injuries of various degrees.

Reportedly, some students have been manipulated by the Moroccan security services and intelligence and incited against others to create dissension between them which has a direct impact on their studies on the first hand, and on their political and cultural activities, among many other activities, on the second hand.

The situation of students at the University Alqadi Ayad becomes more problematic following the abuse of the Moroccan administration of the university in Marrakech especially with the problems of students who have been victims of food-poisoning (more than 22 cases), which has created an angry reaction from students usually led by students from the democratic movement. And instead of dealing with the situation and recognize the error, the administration has tried to conceal this serious mistake, and responded to the students with repression and arrests.

On the basis of the above, the ASVDH declares:
- Its absolute and unconditional solidarity with all victims, regardless of their origin and affiliations, and foremost with the Sahrawi human rights defender, Mr. Ennaâma ASFARI

- Calls for the release of the prisoner of conscience, Mr. Ennaâma ASFARI, and the Saharawi students and students of the democratic basist pathway who are considered by the ASVDH as POLITICAL PRISONERS

- Its severe condemnation of the repressive approach followed by security services against university students in Marrakech and in various universities in Morocco

- Its condemnation of the methodology of falsifying charges and police records and more other violations committed by the Moroccan authorities to counteract the activities of the human rights defenders and students

- Calls upon the State of Morocco to reconsider its security policies followed in the university and provide favourable conditions for study to all students and guarantee their right of expression and peaceful demonstration

- Requests the Moroccan State to assume all costs of hospitalization for all the victims and especially serious cases

- Requests the immediate release of all prisoners of conscience and political detainees, including the secretary general of ASVDH, Mr. Brahim SABBAR, and the president of the local section of the ASVDH in Boujdour, Mr. Mohamed TAHLIL

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