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By Peter Kenworthy, Africa Contact
“Security forces used excessive force against protesters. Critics of the monarchy and state institutions continued to face prosecution and imprisonment, as did Sahrawi advocates of self-determination for Western Sahara. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees persisted,” Amnesty International writes about Morocco and Western Sahara in their 2012 annual report on human rights throughout the world that was released today [24 May].
Western Sahara has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975. Morocco has consistently ignored an array of UN resolutions that have amongst other things demanded the right of the indigenous population, the Saharawis, to a referendum on the status of Western Sahara, and has instead continued to plunder the resources of Western Sahara in blatant disregard of international law.
According to the report, the Moroccan government harasses and imprisons those who peacefully advocate any change in the status quo. “Saharawis advocating self-determination for the people of Western Sahara remained subject to restrictions on their freedoms of expression, association and assembly, and leading activists continued to face prosecution.”
The report uses the violent clamp down on protesters in Gdeim Izik, a protest camp set up outside the capital of Western Sahara, El Aaiun, to peacefully protest the extensive discrimination against the Saharawis in Western Sahara, to exemplify this harassment.
“Some 23 Sahrawis continued to be detained at Salé Prison, awaiting an unfair trial before a military court for their alleged involvement in violence in late 2010 at the Gdim Izik protest camp near Laayoune. No impartial and independent investigation was undertaken into the events at Gdim Izik and in Laayoune in November 2010 when Moroccan security forces demolished a Sahrawi protest camp, sparking violence in which 13 people, including 11 members of the security forces, were killed.”