Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Saharawi Students defending the right of self-determination of their people UN

POLISARIO's Delegation at the SI MED Committee

Tim Kustusch Advocating for the Western Sahara

Timothy Kustusch to the Fourth Committee: Saharawis are ready for statehood



American student, Mr. Timothy Kustush, affirmed in his petition before the UN Foruth Committee for decolonisation that the Saharawi people “are ready for statehood”.

Here is his intervention before the Committee:

6 October 2009

Special Political and Decolonization Committee

Re: Western Sahara

Honorable Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

I thank you for accepting my petition to speak before this committee on what is for hundreds of thousands of people the most pressing matter of international law of our time. My name is Tim Kustusch, and I would like to speak to you about my latest trip to the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, during which I travelled to Tindouf without any program, project, or organization. Within my first few days in the camps, I was invited to work as a volunteer reporter with the Saharawi Journalists and Writers Union, a Saharawi NGO that runs an online news site.*

Working in the camps for two and a half months as a journalist and photographer allowed me to see and experience many things that few foreigners are able to witness. I was able to speak with ministers, parliamentarians, generals, and President Mohammed Abdelaziz to learn about their country-in-exile from the inside. And what I learned is this: the Saharawis are, in fact, well-prepared to become a valuable neighbor to Morocco and a constructive member of the international community of states.

First, the Saharawis have constructed an impressive infrastructure that defies the traditional Western notion of refugee camps. They have built markets, hospitals, gas stations, Internet cafes, courthouses, conference halls, and barber shops. They have set up a national radio station and a national TV station that broadcast throughout the camps. The SADR has all the trappings of a modern state, ready to be replicated when the Saharawis return home.

Secondly, the Saharawis have established many of the social and civil services found in well-developed countries. They manufacture their own medicines, care for their own war victims, administer their own vaccines, and dispose of their own garbage. Further, in the first days following their expulsion from the Western Sahara, the Polisario Front set up a system of compulsory primary education for both boys and girls, which today even includes schools for the disabled. All of these services would be enhanced within the borders of a true Saharawi state.

Thirdly, the Saharawis have effectively secured their own camps through the efforts of the Saharawi People’s Liberation Army and the highly-professional Saharawi National Police. To combat the potential infiltration of terrorists experienced by Morocco, Mali, and other countries in the region, both the Saharawi army and police undergo intense human rights and anti-terrorism training. The Saharawis have protected their own camps, and they can protect their own country.

Finally, the Polisario Front has crafted a government-in-exile that is more democratic, efficient, and organized than many governments that are recognized by the UN. While monarchies predominate in North Africa, the Saharawis have been dedicated to the principles of democracy since the beginning of their movement The SADR is governed by a popularly-elected National Parliament, an executive branch with 20 fully-functioning ministries, and a judicial branch headed by a supreme court. Admittedly, the SADR’s democracy is still not perfect, but as the Polisario leaders were fond of telling me, “Look, we’re still in a state of war. When we have peace and we have our land back, our democracy will be perfected.”

The point of this account is simple: over the past 35 years the Saharawis have undertaken painstaking preparations to demonstrate to Morocco, to the UN, and to the world that they are ready for statehood. They are prepared and willing to join the rest of the Maghreb states in collective security and economic agreements. When the UN decides to enforce and when Morocco agrees to acknowledge the principles of decolonization clearly stated in this organization’s Charter, the Saharawis are ready.

Attached to this petition I have included a diagram in which I depict the structure of the Polisario Front and the SADR, and I would be happy to provide a more extensive report that I am working on if such a document would be useful to this committee. Thank you very much for your time and attention.


Tim Kustusch
MA Candidate/Research Assistant
American University
School of International Service


Miss. Senia to the Fourth Committee: take action to prevent human rights violations in the occupied territories of Western Sahara



Saharawi student, Miss. Senia Bachir Abderahman, called on the UN to “take immediate action to prevent the ongoing human rights violations in the occupied territories of Western Sahara”.

Here is the text of her complete petition:

Petition to United Nations Special Political and Decolonization Committee

The Question of Western Sahara

By Senia Bachir Abderahman

Hearings of October 6-7, 2009

Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am humbled and honored to speak before you today as the voice representing those whose voices cannot be heard in the world: the Saharawi people. My name is Senia Bachir Abderahman. I am a native of Western Sahara, a country that I can only dream to see someday. Currently, I am in my last year at Mount Holyoke College; a women’s institution in Western Massachusetts that brings young and determined women from around the globe to share ideas and teach each other to make a difference in our world today.

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee

This is the third year I speak before the UN Special Political and Decolonization Committee, and it is unfortunate to say that little, if nothing, has been done regarding Africa’s last colony. Since the invasion of my country took place in 1975, the Moroccan authorities have knowingly violated international law, the resolutions of the United Nations and the Geneva Conventions. First, they refused the Saharawi people their right to self-determination, and then they imported several thousand Moroccan settlers into the territories of Western Sahara, which forced numerous Saharawis, including my family and friends to seek refuge in Algeria. Over three decades later, we remain there, more than 200,000 of us. Today, the Moroccan government goes even beyond that by violating human rights, exploiting our natural resources, and spreading deliberate lies through the media.

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee

As a young student, I am very fortunate to have this opportunity to express my concerns before you today. My fellow Saharawi students still living in the occupied territories of Western Sahara are not so lucky. Since May 2005, many Saharawi youths in the occupied territories of Western Sahara and students at universities in Morocco have taken on a nonviolent resistance for a basic human right; their right to self-determination. It is important to remember that this right has been recognized through various United Nations Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, as well as in the agreements signed between the kingdom of Morocco and the Polisario Front. Yet, according to many Saharawis, numerous international bodies including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and witnesses, dozens of Saharawis continue to be brutally attacked, detained and arrested, while many more are getting injured and even killed by the Moroccan police and armed forces. In addition, it has been reported that the attacks involve severe beatings and sexual abuse, as well as harassment of hospitalized victims.

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee

The latest case occurred on August 2009 in Agadir airport, Morocco, where a group of six Saharawi and seven Moroccan students were banned from traveling to Oxford, UK to attend a program named TalkTogether. This program aims to foster greater trust and mutual understanding between the Saharawi and Moroccan youths by enabling them to explore possible solutions to the conflict. To protest against the injustice, the Saharawi students staged an open hunger-strike. However, after 23 hours, the airport authorities responded by calling the Moroccan police, who stormed in, beat students rigorously and drove them away in vehicles. Days after the incident, one of the female students, Nguia El Haouassi – it is sad her name does not ring a bell to many of you sitting here today – was kidnapped, beaten, sexually harassed and left naked in the outskirts of her city, Al-Aiun. It is absolutely unacceptable in today’s world, where we have organizations like you, the United Nations, that any individual be it young or old should face any kind of torture.

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee

As I speak now, many Saharawi prisoners are being harassed and tortured in Moroccan prisons, many students are discriminated against in universities and many are simply disappearing. I ask you why; as these deliberate violations continue to take place, does the International Community turn a blind-eye to the Western Sahara issue? Why does the Moroccan government’s ignorance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (articles two, three, five, seven, nine, etc.) go unnoticed? Why is our primary right to be “born, free and equal in dignity rights” as stated in Article 1, breached?

On behalf of the Saharawi youth, I urge the UN and the rest of the world to consider these questions, and take immediate action to prevent the ongoing human rights violations in the occupied territories of Western Sahara. As the president of the United States, Barack Obama said: “change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek,” I invite all of you to be THAT change.

Thank you!



Sultana Khaya banned from travelling by Moroccan colonial authorities



El Aaiun (occupied territories) October10,2009 (SPS) The Moroccan colonial authorities prevented the Saharawi human rights activist, Sultana Khaya, Friday at the airport of El Aaiun, from travelling to Spain.

The Saharawi activist was going to the European country to have some medical examinations. She was arrested at the airport, ill-treated by police during three hours interrogation by police and held on the spot held five hours in police custody before she was released very late at 01 o’clock a.m.

Moroccan police agents and secret service ( DST) asked the young Saharawi activist about her relations and contacts with other Saharawi human rights defenders, about her political opinion and position on the question of Western Sahara and her relationship with the Group of the Seven activists of Human Rights abducted last Thursday in Casablanca (Morocco).

Sultana Khaya, a student at the University of Marrakech was bashed by police during a peaceful demonstration in the university on May 2007, the young lady lost her right eye, and was further beaten in the ambulance that was taking her to hospital.

Moroccan colonial authorities started lately a new campaign of arrest, harassment and intimidation against Saharawi human rights activists. 7 activists were detained upon their return from a visit to the Saharawi refugee camps.

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