Dispatch UN observers to Western Sahara, Right Livelihood and ISACOM urge UN human rights chief

News 10.03.2022

United Nations observers should be sent to Western Sahara to monitor the ever-worsening human rights situation, Right Livelihood and the Sahrawi Organ Against the Moroccan Occupation (ISACOM) told UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Tuesday.

Read the entire statement here.

Right Livelihood and ISACOM, an organisation co-founded by 2019 Right Livelihood Laureate Aminatou Haidar, warned about the worsening violations committed by Morocco in the occupied territories of Western Sahara.

“Any attempts to claim the Sahrawi people’s inalienable right to self-determination and the respect of their fundamental freedoms are met with hostility and violence,” said the statement delivered during the 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“Activists are beaten, imprisoned, tortured, and sentenced without due process. Long-term arbitrary detention has been used as a tool to silence them,” the statement added.

Human rights defenders are under constant surveillance and are often prohibited from moving around freely or leaving Western Sahara. This point became even more pertinent following revelations by Amnesty International that Haidar had been targeted with Pegasus spyware.

“It is time for your Office to take a stand in the face of such blatant abuses and show the Sahrawi people that you don’t stand with the oppressor,” the statement called on Bachelet.

“We urge you to dispatch an observation mission to occupied Western Sahara without delay and to report to the Council on the human rights situation in the territories.”

The people of Western Sahara, a territory often called “Africa’s last colony,” have endured decades of conflict and repression by Morocco. Spain, the former colonial power, left the disputed territory of Western Sahara in 1975.

However, instead of a referendum on self-determination as promised by the United Nations, the region was illegally occupied by Morocco. During the past four decades, the territory has remained under dispute with no referendum in sight, as the international community looked on with indifference or even abetted the occupation.

Aminatou Haidar is a nonviolent activist and human rights defender from Western Sahara. Over 30 years of peaceful campaigning for the independence of her homeland have earned her the recognition of being known as the “Sahrawi Gandhi.”

She received the Right Livelihood Award “for her steadfast nonviolent action, despite imprisonment and torture, in pursuit of justice and self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.”

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