Friday, March 02, 2007


Complete text of the Declaration of Tifariti

Tifariti (liberated territories), 28/02/2007 (SPS) The International Conference of solidarity with the Saharawi people closed its works on Tuesday in Tifariti with the adoption of a programme of action, letters to the Security Council, UN Secretary general, and the President of the European Union, in addition to the Declaration of Tifariti.

Here is the complete text of the Declaration:

Final declaration

In the framework of 2007, the International Year of Solidarity with the SADR, an international conference dedicated to the struggle of the Saharawi people was organised in Tifariti (the liberated territories of the SADR) on 26-27 February. The conference gathered a large number of participants coming from all over the world.

Organised for the first time in Tifariti, in the liberated zones, the conference acquired a very special importance as it coincided with the commemoration by the Saharawi people of the 31st anniversary of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic.

The conference pays tribute to the struggle for national independence that the Saharawi people have been waging for more than three decades under the leadership of the Frente POLISARIO against the illegal occupation of their country by the Kingdom of Morocco.

This relentless struggle conducted with strict respect for international legality is sustained by the will of a people that have demonstrated their determination to achieve their full freedom and to build their future in peace, democracy and freedom.

Equally, this struggle derives its legitimacy from the principles of the UN Charter and numerous resolutions that recognise the right of peoples subjected to colonial occupation to self-determination. Thanks to the sacrifices made by many peoples in Africa, Asia and Latin America, the international community has established as an international crime the use of force to deprive a people of that right. The corollary of this is the duty incumbent on all states to show that people their support and solidarity until the attainment of their legitimate national objective.

The participants reiterate their vehement condemnation of the military and political aggression unleashed, in October 1975, by the Kingdom of Morocco against the Saharawi people in the framework of the illegal accords of 14 November 1975 by virtue of which the former administering power of Western Sahara, Spain, renounced the responsibilities that it had and still has in conformity with the verdict of the United Nations of 29 January 2002, regarding the completion of the decolonisation process in Western Sahara.

The conference congratulates the SADR and Mauritania for singing the peace agreement dated 5 August 1978, whereby Mauritania opted for respecting international legality and, in an act of political coherence and in full exercise of its sovereignty, established official relations with its neighbour, the SADR. The conference encourages he two countries, bound by many and valuable ties, to strengthen constantly their bilateral relations, to consolidate the rule of law state, and to defend the principles enshrined in the Charters of the United Nations and the African Union. These are essential factors for securing peace and security in the region, which is a necessary step for the eventual launching of the unitary Maghrebian project.

The conference highly applauds the African Union for defending these principles, and in particular the principle of self-determination of colonial countries and people as well as the principle of the intangibility of the frontiers inherited from the colonial era, which it has shown by admitting the SADR as a full member amid the family of free and sovereign African nations.

The conference pays tribute to the support rendered by Algeria throughout the past decades to the legitimate struggle of the people of the SADR for their self-determination and independence, a constant position inspired by the unfailing attachment of this great country to the values and teachings derived from the heroic struggle of the Algerian people for their independence.

The conference shows its deep appreciation for the solidarity as well as the political and diplomatic support that a large number of countries in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia have given to the just cause of the Saharawi people bilaterally and in international forums. In this context, the conference expresses its profound gratitude to all political forces, MPs, local and autonomous bodies, and nongovernmental organisations of civil society in Europe, Latin America and the United States that have accompanied the Saharawi people with their encouragement and humanitarian and material support in order to mitigate the hardships and all forms of deprivations resulting from the conquest war and the colonial pillage carried out by the Kingdom of Morocco.

The conference has discussed in depth the current situation of the peace process in Western Sahara that was set in motion in 1990-91 by the United Nations in the framework of the Settlement Plan, which was approved by the Security Council in its resolutions 658 and 690 and accepted by the occupying power, Morocco, and the Frente POLISARIO, the legitimate representative of the Saharawi people. The explicit objective of this process was—and must continue to be—one of enabling the Saharawi people to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination in the context of the options set out in this plan and through a referendum organised and supervised by the United Nations in cooperation with the African Union.

Whilst reaffirming the content of the resolutions adopted by the General Assembly since the 60s as well as the content of the verdict of the International Court of Justice on Western Sahara dated 16 October 1975, this plan recognises that the Saharawi question is a decolonisation issue that can be resolved only through the implementation of the dictates of international legality contained in the Magna Carta of decolonisation set out in the well-known resolution 1514 (XV) of the General Assembly. In this context, the United Nations recognised—and continue to recognise—that Morocco maintains an illegal occupation of a territory that does not belong to it, and on which it does not and cannot exercise any form of sovereignty.

The participants are convinced that the referendum remains the only peaceful and legal means that enjoys the unanimous support of the international community for reaching a just, peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict in Western Sahara. The Saharawi people are the only depository of the right to self-determination of their territory and no one, and certainly not the occupying power, can determine on their behalf the destiny of their country.

Consequently, the conference CONDEMNS the policy of occupation and oppression pursed by Morocco in Western Sahara as well as its strategy aimed at thwarting and frustrating the efforts and decisions taken by the international community. Morocco’s rejection of the Settlement Plan and the Houston Agreements that it had already accepted and signed as well as its opposition to the Peace Plan (Baker Plan), which was approved by the Security Council in its resolution 1495 (2003), all indicate that Morocco has acted in bad faith and is deliberately determined to persist in challenging the resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly that recognise the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination.

The final status of the territory of Western Sahara is the exclusive prerogative of its people. In this context, the Moroccan unilateral project concerning the so-called “autonomy” within the framework of its purported sovereignty over Western Sahara that no country or body recognises, seeks to distort international legality applicable to a decolonisation question by trying to impose on the Saharawi people and the international community a disgraceful and unacceptable “colonial reality” in the midst of the 21st century. Every country that respects itself and international legality should reject this new attempt of colonial nature that aims to legitimise a colonial aggression perpetrated against a people to the detriment of their rights to freedom and independence. The conference would like to express its astonishment and surprise at the fact that France, in the words of its president, has described this project as “constructive” considering that it is a flagrant violation of international law aimed at depriving a people of their right to self-determination. As a member of the Security Council and present and future partner of the Maghrebian region, France would enhance its credibility if it employs its political and diplomatic leverage to make Morocco cooperate with the United Nations in the holding of the self-determination referendum to which it had committed itself, given the unanimous support given by the Security Council to the Settlement Plan and Houston Agreements as well as the Baker Plan.

The participants consider that the pseudo-solution called proposal of “autonomy” in the framework of Moroccan sovereignty constitutes a dangerous “flight forward” that will give rise to more tension in the territory and the region as a whole, and will eventually block all ways leading to a peaceful, just and lasting settlement of the conflict.

The Conference DECLARES the Moroccan project legally null and void. The participants call on France and its government to reconsider its position, and to cease its alignment with the Moroccan expansionist policies that are being pursued to the detriment of international legality and the obligations and responsibilities towards the Maghreb region whose future configuration cannot be done on the basis of the modification by the force of the frontiers inherited from the colonial era, or the violation of the fundamental right of self-determination of the Saharawi people.

The conference REMINDS Spain of its political, legal and ethical responsibility for the tragedy that the Saharawi people continue to endure. Having successfully overcome the transitional period and consolidated its democracy, and keeping in mind that responsibility and the view of the immense majority of the civil society, the official Spain should revise its current position in order to play its role as an administering power and thus contribute honestly and concretely to the peaceful and just solution to the conflict in Western Sahara on the basis of the respect for international legality.

The conference REGRETS that, after thirty years, the stand of the Spanish Government has not been in line with this binding responsibility. The conference condemns the Spain’s recent massive arms sales to Morocco and its abstention from supporting the last resolution of the UN General Assembly on Western Sahara are serious facts that can only contribute to encouraging Morocco to continue its rebellion against international law, and to intensify its violation of human rights in the occupied territories of Western Sahara. The conference launches an appeal to the civil society and all peoples and democratic forces of the Spanish State to intervene urgently to stop these arms sales to Morocco whose political consequences for peace and stability will very dangerous.

The conference REMINDS the European Union of its responsibility for the continuation of the conflict in Western Sahara. The EU, a big supplier of Morocco, should not allow this country to violate the terms and obligations derived from the association agreement especially those that are related to the respect for human rights. However, several governmental and nongovernmental organisations such as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, among others, have publicly recognised the fact that Morocco continues to massively violate human rights in Western Sahara, and that this violation is rooted in the violation of the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination.

It is not in favour of the international credibility of the European Union to turn a blind eye to what is happening in Western Sahara, and to pursue a policy of double standard in its consideration of the situation of human rights in the world particularly if these violations are perpetrated by countries that receive, as the case of Morocco, generous financial and economic aid from the EU.

The conference would like to REITERATE ITS DENUNCIATION of the Moroccan policy aimed at implicating foreign companies and governments in plundering the natural resources including fish and hydrocarbons of Western Sahara.

In this context, the fisheries agreement signed by the EU and Morocco, at Spain and France’s instigation, is an act contrary to international legality because it involves illegally the jurisdictional waters of Western Sahara. It is an act of illegal exploitation of the natural resources of the Saharawi people over which it has permanent sovereignty in accordance with international law. It is also an agreement that grants economic and financial benefits to the occupying power of the territory, thus encouraging it to continue its opposition to international legality. The conference considers this agreement as illegal and call for it to be immediately revoked.

During their visit to the Saharawi refugee camps and some of the liberated zones of the SADR, the participants have been able to see firsthand the hard life conditions of the population, which are aggravated by the harsh geographical environment. These dramatic conditions can only be overcome by the achievement of a just and lasting solution to the conflict. This solution, which was established by the international community in 1990-91, was sabotaged by Morocco in the face of the passivity of the Security Council.

Nevertheless, the reality is evident because the beginning of the conflict and its continuation has forced thousands of Saharawi women, elderly and children to go into exile and to engage in resistance against the occupation of their homeland by the invading forces.

Determined to prepare the future of their country in the domains of education, health, administration, economy and the like, this population has known a real demographic explosion. The three decades, which have elapsed since the beginning of the illegal occupation of the territory by Morocco, have created a human drama that amounts to an affront to the worlds’ conscience.

The delay by the UN agencies, especially the UNHCR and the WFP, in fulfilling their commitment towards Saharawi refugees leads to a legitimates concern and poses serious questions about the possibility of a hidden agenda aimed at exerting pressure on the Saharawis in order to persuade them to give up their right to independence.

The conference launches an URGENT APPEAL on these agencies, the European Union and the international community as a whole to contribute urgently to providing sufficient humanitarian aid that respects the legitimate needs of a people that are victim of an imposed colonial war.

In the occupied territories, the situation remains alarming as Morocco continues its repression and persecution against the Saharawi population: daily harassment of human rights activists, torture, unfair trials, inhuman prison conditions, etc. The seriousness of the situation has reached unprecedented proportions after the beginning of the peaceful intifada in May 2005. The whole world, and in the first place the UN through the presence of MIURSO in the field, has realised the ferocity of this repression against the Saharawi population. Medieval jails crammed with political prisoners, torture, disappearances, detentions and unfair and arbitrary trials are the daily reminder of a brutal colonial occupation. A specific report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights detailed, in September 2006, the horror in which the Saharawi population lives in the occupied territories. Morocco has reacted with brutal repression and police violence against the legitimate demands that are expressed peacefully in defence of a people’s right. At the moment, there are 38 Saharawi political prisoners that have been on hunger strike since 30 January, and their situation is deteriorating every day…

The conference DENOUNCES Morocco’s violation of human rights in Western Sahara, and would like to express its firm support and encouragement to the heroic resistance of the Saharawi population, and calls on Morocco to put an end to its policies of oppression and repression. It also CALLS ON the United Nations to make public the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Western Sahara (15-23 May and 19 June 2006). The conference DEMANDS the UN Secretary-General and the Security Council to enlarge the mandate of MINURSO to include the defence of human rights and the protection of civil society in the occupied territories.

The conference has been able to establish that, a few kilometres from the town of Tifariti, the occupying authorities have erected a disgraceful wall of more than 2.700 kilometres that separates a people and divides entire families, which is invested with landmines and death instruments. It embodies the occupation and the logic of force…

This wall is an affront to the world’s conscience and to human dignity, and reveals the true face of Morocco’s illegal occupation of Western Sahara, its expansionist policy and its violations of human rights. The wall of shame erected along Western Sahara has separated the same people for more than thirty years, and concentrates the terrifying destruction means, among which millions of landmines of all types that cause death and desolation among the Saharawi population, in addition to the disastrous ecological consequences for the livestock and the fauna of the territory.

Morocco that refuses to sign the conventions and treaties, which ban the use of landmines (Ottawa Convention, Geneva’s Call …), is responsible for this chaos and the devastation caused by this wall which, by its very conception and architecture, calls to mind other sinister walls that are bound to fall and to disappear one day. The participants CALL FOR the dismantlement of this wall of shame.

There is an emergency situation in Western Sahara that entails an urgent action.

The conference express its vehement condemnation of the Moroccan escalation, and launches an urgent appeal on the United Nations, and especially the Secretary-General and the Security Council, to demand Morocco to respect its commitments that were agreed on in the Settlement Plan of 1991 and the Houston Agreements of 1997.

The conference considers that there will be no just, legitimate, democratic and acceptable solution without taking into account the respect for the will of the people of Western Sahara and respect for international law and the UN resolutions.

The conference calls on the Moroccan Government to put an end to its brutal repression against the Saharawi civilians in the occupied territories, to release all political prisoners and to allow visits by independent observers and NGOs.

The conference reaffirms its full solidarity with the legitimate struggle of the Saharawi people and draws up a plan that aims to put into practice this solidarity in political, humanitarian, parliamentarian, social, and economic domains, and on a world scale. The participants would like to thank the Saharawi political, military and administrative authorities for their invaluable contribution to the success of this conference.

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