Friday, December 16, 2005

POLISARIO rewarded the Spanish Human Rights Prize

ADDRESS OF PRESIDENT MOHAMED ABDELAZIZ
Ceremony of awarding of the Human Rights Prize
Granted by the Spanish Association for Human Rights
Madrid, 15 December 2005

Dear President of the Association for Human Rights!
Members of the Association, dear friends!

It is an honour for me to receive, on behalf of the Saharawi people,
this valuable prize, awarded by the Spanish Association for Human
Rights to the Frente POLISARIO. I receive it as recognition and a
moral and political support for the long-standing struggle of the
Saharawi people for exercising the very basic of all human rights,
namely the right of peoples’ to self-determination.

We gather today in an event that coincides not only with the
anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also
with a historic moment in which the Saharawi people, especially in
the Saharawi territories occupied by Morocco, continue to pay on
daily basis a high price for the peaceful affirmation of this
fundamental right, without whose respect and validity, humanity would
go back to the Stone Age.

As many nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America, we are a nation
that has been forced to go through the hard path of a national war
for independence for attaining its freedom. We had believed that the
very high price paid before us by those nations and peoples together
with the great advances in economic area and that relating to
freedoms in the world of the post-World War II, would be a strong
reason for sparing the Saharawi people and the Maghreb the tragedy of
a colonial war of conquest, of which consequences have been the
destruction and death of innocent persons.

Unfortunately, we had been mistaken as evidenced by the fact that,
despite the passage of thirty years, Morocco, encouraged now directly
or indirectly by the same powers that contributed decisively to the
outbreak of the conflict, is still unwilling to accept reality, which
is the validity of this fundamental human right.

More than 150,000 Moroccan soldiers were sent in 1975 to carry out
genocide in Western Sahara. This invading army, notwithstanding its
means, could not achieve success in the adventure in which it was
driven, as it had to confront the determination of a people that
decided not to give up their right to freedom.

In spite of being the victim and the weaker party, we have kept our
faith in international legality and in the peaceful way to resolve
our conflict with Morocco.

Based on this conviction, we have helped to raise the hopes that at
the time led the UN to try this peaceful solution through the honest
and fair implementation of this fundamental human right to settle
definitively a decolonisation conflict. We have done that by making
concessions and tangible gestures ranging from the acceptance, in
1991, of the identification criteria of voters, which were different
from what had already been agreed upon, to the acceptance of Plan
Baker, and lastly the unconditional release of all Moroccan prisoners
of war.

Times and again, Morocco turned its back on peace in contradiction of
its own commitments made before the UN Security Council in 1990. Then
it passed to the irrational rejection of Plan Baker, and now it has
gone to the extent of intensifying its blind and brutal repression,
which involves assassination as a common measure, against the
Saharawi population in the occupied cities of Western Sahara.

The recent assassination of two young Saharawis, Lemabarki and
Lejlifa Abba Cheij, the sentences passed today at the end of a
summary trial, which was a real political reprisal, against the group
of Saharawi human rights activists, including the young woman Aminatu
Haidar, the images of the overcrowding, reminiscent of medieval
dungeons, of Saharawi prisoners in the so-called Black Prison in La
Aaiun, the unearthing by Moroccan official institutions of dozens of
bodies of Saharawi men and women in different secret jails scattered
all over Morocco, and the lack of information regarding the
whereabouts of more than 500 civilians and 151 Saharawi combatants,
these all are elements that make up the framework of action of a
State, which is an affront to the universal conscience.

Media have been publishing, in the last months, news about the
successive discoveries of mass graves including the remains of
hundreds of Moroccan citizens. The newspapers of today show hard
facts. No Latin American dictatorship has broken this record of
horror.

This horror of dimensions yet to be known has extended beyond the
Saharawi and Moroccan peoples. Dozens of African immigrants were
transported, handcuffed, in trucks to be abandoned in Western Sahara,
exposing them to die of thirst, hunger or in mined fields. We have
managed to rescue several groups, some of whom are still looked after
by us, in the hope that their tragic situation would be resolved in a
satisfactory way for them. The same happened with hundreds of Asian
immigrants from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

Perhaps it is difficult for some to believe or they do not want to
believe that this could have happened, but facts in themselves are
the unquestionable evidence. What is more difficult is to believe
that this very State, which acts in this brutal way against the
fundamental human rights, remains at the same time one of the main
receivers of the funds of cooperation aid from the European Union.

With this behaviour and the impunity with which Moroccan has
paralysed the implementation of the UN resolutions, the original
hopes, which had encouraged the international community as to
reaching a speedy and lasting solution to the conflict, have fairly
dwindled now. Hence, the importance of the role that civil society,
the NGOs, as your association, can play.

The temptation to maintain the cease-fire as an end in itself,
without any prospect of a real implementation of the resolutions of
the Security Council relating to the self-determination referendum,
the Moroccan continued defiance of the will of international
community, and the repression in the occupied territories, are all
elements that constitute a context that could only lead to the
failure of the UN and the peaceful way.

At the end of April 2006, the Security Council will again deal with
the question of Western Sahara. Before this date, the Council will
receive, in January, a report from the new Personal Envoy of the UN
Secretary-General. These are important scheduled events. They will
even be the decisive moment for the credibility of the United
Nations.

Morocco tries to anticipate these events, introducing new obstacles
in the way of a genuine peace.

Thus, its intentions, loudly declared, as to offer a
pseudo-solutions that depart from the condition of denying the
Saharawi people their legitimate right to choose independence, an
option that had however been accepted by Morocco and appears in all
resolutions and peace plans so far approved by the United Nations,
are unacceptable. They are contrary to international legality and
they do not have—nor will they have—any possibility of being accepted
by the Saharawi people as an alternative to their right to choose
their destiny freely and democratically.

History shows us that colonial powers move in the right direction if
they are compelled by the pressure of international community, and
particularly the pressure of those countries that have a direct
influence on the making of the political decision of those powers.
That is what happened in Namibia, under the illegal occupation of
South Africa of Apartheid, in East Timor, to not go that far.

In this context, France as well as the United States and Spain assume
a particular responsibility to demonstrate the credibility of their
attachment to international legality, democracy and human rights.

We believe firmly that, in peace, we all can win, in the first,
Morocco. This peace has to be just and lasting and the only basis on
which its fairness can be judged is to see whether it is anchored in
international legality or not. Western Sahara, from the perspective
of this unquestionable international legality, is a country in a
process of decolonisation that entails giving its people the
opportunity to exercise their right to self-determination and choose
their future voting in a referendum organised and supervised by the
UN.

To go against this principle will not strengthen Morocco, nor will it
make credible its intentions of democratisation; nor will it boost
the prestige of those powers or bring the peace that is much longed
for in this region, which is adjacent and strategic for the
Euro-Mediterranean security. I hope and wish that Spain would remain
far from encouraging an approach of this kind.

The greatness of nations is not judged by how many square kilometres
they possess, but by the degree of economic and democratic
development that they could offer to their own peoples and to the
rest of the world, particularly in this world of today that is being
threatened by many political and economic dangers.

It is this peace that brings with it the reaffirmation of the
validity of the human right par excellence, to which we, the
Saharawis, are and will be committed. Any other pseudo-peace that
denies this right will not command our commitment, and will be just a
useless project that will lead only to wasting energies, time and
would drive the conflict into new unpredictable risks.

Therefore, I invite the King Mohamed VI to return to the path of the
Settlement Plan, to the alternative path offered by Plan Baker, in
sum, to the path of the self-determination as a positive inheritance
from his father the late King Hassan II.

Let us offer to the Maghrebian generations of today and tomorrow
something of which they could feel proud. Let us offer the Arab
Maghreb a sincere possibility for opening a new page that ensures
concord, confidence, and economic development in freedom and
democracy.

Let us offer to the world a lesson of maturity and to the
Mediterranean Europe an avoidable strategic partner, a strong reason
for believing in the viability of the partnership that is being
offered on paper.

The Saharawi people are a national and international reality that is
undeniable. The Moroccan people and their legitimate dreams of a
better future are a reality that we should bear in mind.

No one of us can exclude the other in a vast region full of
recourses. We can live together in it united between us and with the
other neighbouring peoples on equal footing of equality, a sovereign
equality, without exclusions.

It is to this peace that we should be committed. I am not saying that
the path is easy, without difficulties, especially those of
psychological nature, but I am convinced firmly that this peace will
bring with it promises of an extraordinary future that could help us
to overcome these difficulties.

All peoples of our region and Africa, which have recognised the SADR
as a factor of stability and security necessary for Maghrebian
balance, are just awaiting a coherent, just and historic decision by
the Moroccan leadership so that we together, and with the incentive
of Europe and the rest of the world, can embark on the path of a
genuine peace that reaffirms the valuable content and meaning of the
right to self-determination, the first right on the scale of human
rights.

Thank you!



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