2019 Right Livelihood Laureate Aminatou Haidar

“African migrants are hostages of Morocco’s international relations with Europe,” Sahrawi activist Aminatou Haidar says 

Press releases 01.07.2022

Sahrawi human rights activist and Right Livelihood Laureate Aminatou Haidar condemned the Moroccan authorities’ brutal repression of African migrants that caused more than 20 deaths in Melilla, a Spanish enclave on the North African coast, last week. 

As a human rights advocate fighting the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara, Haidar also criticised the Spanish government for backing Morrocco in what she called “a new crime against humanity.” She noted that the international community shared responsibility for the wall of silence allowing these crimes. Haidar also called on international organisations and civil society to take action to end these atrocities.  

Read her full statement:

“I, Aminatou Haidar, Right Livelihood Laureate and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Laureate, have followed with great pain the news and the images of the savage and brutal repression carried out by the Moroccan authorities against hundreds of young Africans on June 24, 2022. The result of this act has been the death of a number of people that, today, we cannot determine due to the blockade and deception practised by the Moroccan authorities, as well as to the absence of any independent and international investigation into the massacre.

The images we saw, whose veracity we verified, showed disproportionate use of force, which is an offence to dignity and a crime against the right to life and physical integrity, all of which is shameful and outrageous. These images show a crime against humanity being committed by the authorities of Morocco. Thus, I want to declare in my name and the name of the Sahrawi Instance Against the Moroccan Occupation (ISACOM), my total and unconditional condemnation of this new crime committed by the Moroccan occupation regime, this time against citizens of other African countries.

Likewise, I signal my firm rejection of a statement by Spanish President Pedro Sanchez in which he praised this crime and showed his and his government’s solidarity with the Moroccan regime, extolling what he called “extraordinary” work done by repressive Moroccan forces. With such a statement, Mr Sanchez mocked all the international conventions concerning human rights. He actively showed his commitment to supporting a dictatorial regime and violations of international law and human rights in Morocco.

I would also like to alert the media and the international public opinion to the falsehoods and manipulation practised by the Moroccan regime to confuse everyone. This time, apparently also with the help and approval of the Spanish government. At this point, I invite you to ask yourselves: from where have the African citizens been able to enter Morocco? Aren’t all the borders of Morocco closed? Well, borders with Algeria have been closed since 1994. The borders in the southern parts of Western Sahara – under the control of the Moroccan occupation – are closed because of Covid since 2019, and because of the war with the Polisario Front since 2020. The answer is that the Moroccan occupation authorities take all the opportunities they find to fly thousands of Africans in through the country’s national airline. They enter Morocco with a legal visa and, after their arrival, they are exposed to terrible exploitation by the Moroccan authorities. They are used as human hostages and as means of blackmail to Spain and the rest of Europe every time the relations between the countries deteriorate.

That is why I reiterate my condemnation of this horrendous crime and join the call to the United Nations, the European Union and the African Union, and their specialised agencies in

human rights and the rights of migrants, to send independent and specialised commissions of inquiry to shed light on the details of this crime. Also, I demand that these international bodies swiftly rescue African migrants currently detained in terrible and totally inhumane circumstances, according to what we could all see in pictures and videos. In the same way, I reiterate that the civilised world, including states and agencies, is partly responsible for the repeated Moroccan crimes due to their silence, the collaboration and the appeasement that they practice with the Moroccan expansionist regime.

I hold the Spanish state and its current government responsible for this Moroccan crime, as long as it continues to support and praise it without any type of scruples by Pedro Sanchez. I invite Spanish civil society organisations, political parties and citizens to stand up clearly and strongly against this crime, with all the civilized and civic means possible. As human rights defenders, as Africans and as human beings, we cannot stand idly by in the face of this crime against humanity”.

Aminatou Haidar
Human rights defender and president of the Saharawi Instance Against the Moroccan Occupation (ISACOM)

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