Aminatou Haidar at the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm. Credit: Christian Gustavsson/Right Livelihood Foundation

Moroccan police prevented Sahrawi activists from celebrating 2019 Laureate Aminatou Haidar

News 07.01.2020

The Right Livelihood Foundation expresses deep concern about the threats and intimidation faced last week by Sahrawi activists attempting to celebrate Aminatou Haidar’s reception of the 2019 Right Livelihood Award. This comes as a pattern of continuous harassment against Sahrawi people when exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful demonstration.

On 2 January 2020, the Moroccan police prevented representatives of Sahrawi NGOs from celebrating Aminatou Haidar’s reception of the 2019 Right Livelihood Award. The celebration was supposed to take place at the headquarters of the Sahrawi Association of Victims of Grave Violations of Human Rights Committed by the State of Morocco (ASVDH) in El-Ayoun, the occupied capital of Western Sahara. However, authorities have denied the activists access to the planned venue and forced all those present to leave the location.

Aminatou Haidar. Credit: Christian Gustavsson/Right Livelihood Foundation

During the following days, in an attempt to further intimidate her, the Moroccan police force has maintained a siege on Haidar’s residence as well as the whole neighbourhood. Despite these tactics, many brave activists were able to arrive at her house and congratulate her for receiving the Award.

The Right Livelihood Foundation denounces the continued restrictions on Sahrawi people’s peaceful exercise of freedom of expression, association and assembly. Sahrawi human rights defenders and activists continue to face harassment, surveillance by security officials and politically motivated prosecutions. Furthermore, Sahrawi human rights organisations are blocked from obtaining official registration.

This is not the first time that Aminatou Haidar faces repercussions for her human rights activism. Immediately after receiving the Right Livelihood Award, she was victim of a smear campaign on social media aimed at attacking and undermining her reputation and credibility.

As a result of her activism and human rights work, during the last 30 years she has faced persecution and harassment by Moroccan authorities, including physical and verbal assaults and torture throughout her detention.

“We stand in solidarity with Aminatou Haidar and all Sahrawi people in their struggle for the respect of their fundamental rights, notably their right to self-determination. The Right Livelihood Foundation and our Laureates around the world will stand up for Haidar’s protection from harassment and intimidation by all possible means,” said Ole von Uexkull, Executive Director of the Right Livelihood Foundation.

2019 Right Livelihood Award Laureate Aminatou Haidar has been campaigning for over 30 years for the self-determination of the Sahrawi people and the respect of their fundamental rights. The entirety of her activism has occurred within the context of the illegal occupation of the territory of Western Sahara by the Kingdom of Morocco. During her peaceful activism, she has been a victim of enforced disappearance, she was detained without charges, beaten and tortured by the Moroccan authorities. Despite the enormous psychological and physical suffering to which she has been subjected, she has continued to tirelessly fight for justice and the rights of her people.

Aminatou Haidar received the Right Livelihood Award in 2019 “for her steadfast non-violent action, despite imprisonment and torture, in pursuit of justice and self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.”

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