Moroccan repression is increasing in Western Sahara, Aminatou Haidar warns

News 22.09.2021

The human rights situation in Western Sahara has worsened since the resumption of an armed conflict with Morocco last year, Right Livelihood Laureate Aminatou Haidar warned the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday.

Read Haidar’s entire statement here.

Haidar drew attention to the long-standing conflict in Western Sahara during a general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights at the 48th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“The repression is even more severe since the resumption of the armed conflict in November 2020 and the measures taken in the framework of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

Haidar highlighted the situation of human rights defenders, journalists, and political prisoners, warning that they are often subject to harassment, threats, arbitrary arrests, ill-treatment, torture and sexual violence.

“For ten months now, my colleague, the activist Sultana Khaya, has been arbitrarily confined to her home, without electricity or access to the Internet,” Haidar said, noting that a peaceful demonstration in Khaya’s support was brutally dispersed by Moroccan police.

“Unfortunately, the Moroccan officials continue to enjoy total impunity,” Haidar said.

She called on the Human Rights Council to consider the creation of a Special Rapporteur on the situation of Western Sahara, also urging the office of the UN’s human rights chief to send an observer mission to the territory.

“It is time for the UN to assume its responsibility for the decolonization of Western Sahara,” Haidar told the Council.

Haidar is a nonviolent activist and human rights defender from Western Sahara, a territory occupied by Morocco since 1975. 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 in 2019.

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