Saturday, October 07, 2006

UN Debate on Western Sahara 2006

4-5 October 2006

Mr. Chairman, honourable Members of the Commission,

First of all, I would like to thank you, on behalf of the Frente POLISARIO, for giving me the opportunity today to address this important Commission on Decolonisation.

Mr. Chairman,

The continuous colonial occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco constitutes a challenge to the principles of the United Nations Charter and the authority and credibility of this body.

In April of this year, the UN Secretary-General submitted a report to the Security Council contained in the document S/2006/249 on the situation relating to the decolonisation of Western Sahara. In the report, he reminded the Council that no state in the world has recognised Morocco’s claim of sovereignty over our country. At the same time, the Secretary-General considers that the United Nations cannot endorse any peace plan for Western Sahara that excludes—as Morocco wants—the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination. The Secretary-General also expressed his concern about the deterioration of the human rights situation in Western Sahara.

In the first place, I would like to tackle this particular question.

In my statement you will find annexed graphic evidences of the barbarity and the unspeakable cruelty of the Moroccan repression against the Saharawi civilians. Dozens of Saharawi men and women have been imprisoned and tortured through medieval practices including dousing prisoners with petrol and setting them on fire, as demonstrates the case of the youngman, Salek Saidi, which appears on the second page of the annex. Committing such crimes is a shameful act unworthy of a Member State of the United Nations that is also a member of the Human Rights Council.

As a result of the repression, three Saharawi civilians died since may 2005. A Moroccan official body unearthed, in southern Morocco last year, the mass graves of 50 Saharawis who disappeared after being kidnapped by the Moroccan occupying forces following their invasion of our country. This could also have been the tragic fate of the rest of the disappeared among whom 526 Saharawi civilians and 151 POWs. The notorious Black Prison of El-Aaiun is still filled with Saharawi detainees, at the same time as 29 political detainees who have recently been given heavy sentences by Moroccan political courts, continue their hunger strike. On 23 September 2006, new peaceful pro-independence demonstrations took place in the city of El Aaiun, which were faced with brutal repression, resulting in several people injured and 40 detained.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, following several attempts that were frustrated by he Moroccan Government, managed eventually to dispatch a delegation to the Saharawi territory in May this year. In its report, while highlighting the importance of the respect for the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination, it brings to light the seriousness of the situation regarding the human rights in the occupied territories of our country.

Morocco tries to cover these crimes derived from its illegal occupation through denying access to the territory to independent observers while resorting to a policy of disqualification of the adversary as the Apartheid did with the ANC and SWAPO, searching, like all colonialisms, for scapegoats in third countries to blame them, playing tricks like a thief crying “stop the thief” much of it we are going to see and witness right here.

Mr. Chairman,
Morocco has seriously complicated the peace process and has put the United Nations in an extremely delicate situation from which it should know how to break away if it wants to maintain its credibility. After having sabotaged the referendum process set in motion by the United Nations in 1991, Morocco is trying today to sell the idea of the possibility of a pseudo-solution to the conflict contrary to the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination. To this end, it has launched a noisy campaign vis-à-vis certain capitals of countries members of the Security Council and others which the occupying power seeks to implicate in the process.

Morocco specifies that this solution is a so-called “autonomy” for Western Sahara in the framework of the purportedly Moroccan sovereignty. On the one hand, this pseudo-solution departs from the illusion of considering, beforehand, our country as an integral part of its territory. As the Secretary-General stated in his report of April, no one recognises for Morocco this sovereignty.

The idea is born dead and our rejection of it is categorical and is not open to appeal. And this is for the following factual reasons. The Saharawi people is the only depository of the sovereignty over the Territory and it is up to them, only to them, to decide on this fundamental question by means of a free and fair referendum on self-determination organised and supervised by the United Nations. If they decide to be part of Morocco, this would be their right, and it should be respected. On this assumption, whether Morocco grants or not an administrative autonomous status, this would be a Moroccan internal issue. However, if the Saharawi people choose to be an independent nation, their decision should equally be respected, and consequently, the form in which they would decide to organise administratively their state would be an issue that lies within their exclusive competence. This is the essence of the message and wisdom of the authors of the resolution 1514 (XV) that is called the Magna Charter of decolonisation.

On the other hand, this pseudo-solution involves serious consequences whose responsibility should be assumed by Morocco. The Moroccan Government should not lose sight of the fact that putting and end to the Settlement Plan and Baker Plan necessarily implies putting an end to the current cease-fire which was agreed on by the two parties as an inseparable element of the referendum process that was the very reason for the deployment of MINURSO in the Territory.
Morocco is playing once again with fire, and using and abusing of its bilateral relations with some capitals could finally drive the Saharawi people and the region as a whole into a situation of extreme tension and risks that had so far been avoided.

As things stand at the moment, Mr. Chairman, our position regarding the solution to the conflict is clear and well-known. We are before a decolonisation problem on the agenda of both the IV Committee and the Special committee since the sixties. As such, the United Nations assumes a particular responsibility that it cannot renounce nor forsake for the siren songs of the so-called “realpolitik” chanted recently by the Moroccan Government to certain ears.

The self-determination referendum stipulated in the peace plans approved by the Security Council was and remains the only mutually acceptable political solution and the only arrangement endorsed by the United Nations. Morocco solemnly and voluntarily accepted this democratic solution and had as witnesses the Security Council and the International Community. No one has forced it to do so, and no one led it into error. A State which respects itself must respect its own committeemen’s. For the Frente POLISARIO, the self-determination referendum is the way forward and, thus, something essential, inalienable and non-negotiable.

The political logic, the need of preserving UN credibility and a decent vision of the future of the peoples of the region advocate the implementation of this principle, since no one, including the occupying power, should make the error of trying to determine unilaterally the future of a people subjected to colonial occupation without consulting this people in a genuine way. This great mistake was made in 1975 when Morocco militarily invaded and occupied the Western Sahara, an occupation whose tragic consequences are still enduring for both the Saharawi and Moroccan peoples as well as for the entire region. In the past, a great part of guilt was attributed to the Cold War, but today this will be unjustifiable. The just and lasting solution to the conflict in Western Sahara is essential for the security and stability of this region of North Africa that is open to globalisation and which is eager to progress in peace and freedom. Peace in Western Sahara passes by a self-determination referendum. The United Nations should not fear this principle enshrined in its own Charter and Morocco, if it is honest in its public statements, should cooperate, put an end to its policy of double standard, to its occupation and violation of human rights in Western Sahara and not fear democratic solutions endorsed by the International Community.

Thank you.

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