Saturday, October 17, 2009


(From the Western Sahara Campaign & the Free Western Sahara Network)

Olympian joins MP's to mark International Court ruling call for
release of detainees

To mark the anniversary of the International Court of Justice's (ICJ)
ruling on Western Sahara's right to self determination, a Saharawi
Olympic athlete will today run around Parliament Square thirty-four
times: once for each year that the judgment has been ignored by
Morocco. The runner, Salah Hmatou Amaidan, will be joined for a lap by
various MP's, celebrities and campaigners who will also express their
concern for the safety of 7 prominent human rights activists arrested
in Casablanca last week.

The advocates belong to a number of human rights organizations and
civil society groups and have long track records of monitoring of and
reporting on human rights violations in Western Sahara. They were
driven away by security forces after returning from a visit to the
refugee camps in the Algerian desert where 165,000 Saharawi's have
lived for over three decades. Neither their location nor the reason
for their detention has been disclosed. Human rights organisations
including Amnesty International have expressed serious concerns about
this latest incident in a country where over 500 Saharawi activists
have 'disappeared'.

Amaidan, 26, who regularly trains with Paula Radcliffe in the France
where he lives in exile, has won gold medals in Africa and Europe and
is in London to promote the 'Running the Sahara' marathon that takes
place in the refugee camps next February. He will be joined by a
number of prominent lawyers, campaigners and MP's who will try and
keep up with him for a single lap each. Amaidan will then run to the
Moroccan Embassy where he will deliver a letter calling on Morocco to
disclose the exact place of detention of the seven activists and to
provide them with immediate access to their families, lawyers and any
medical attention they might require.

Jeremy Corbyn MP (Chair of the APPG on Western Sahara) said today:

“Today, exactly thirty-four years after the ICJ stated that the facts
did ‘not establish any tie of territorial sovereignty between the
territory of Western Sahara and the Kingdom of Morocco’ and upheld UN
resolution 1541 on the right of the Saharwi to self-determination,
Western Sahara remains occupied. Over 100 further UN resolutions have
been passed but not enforced. In the meantime Saharawi's human rights
are trampled. Those who stand-up against this repression - people like
Ahmed Alansari, Brahim Dahane, Yahdih Ettarouzi, Saleh Labihi, Dakja
Lashgar, Rachid Sghir and Ali Salem Tamek – risk detention, torture
and or even being 'disappeared' themselves.”

Those arrested are:

Ali Salem Tamek, first vice president of the Collective of Saharawi
Human Rights Defenders (CODESA) and member of the Moroccan Association
for Human Rights (AMDH);

Brahim Dahane, president of the Saharawi Association of Victims of
Serious Violations Committed by Morocco (ASVDH);

Ahmad Anasiri, general secretary of the Saharawi Committee for the
Defence of Human Rights in Smara and president of AMDH – Smara

Dagja Lachgar, member of the executive office of ASVDH;

Yahdih Ettarrouzi, member of AMDH – Laayounne Chapter;

Saleh Lebayhi, president of the Forum for Protection of Sahrawi
Children and member of the Laayoune Chapter of CODESA and AMDH;

Rachid Sghayar, member of Committee Action against Torture.

Amaidane Salah Hmatou will be competing in the Wimbledon 10k run on
18th October and giving testimony in Parliament at a meeting with the
All Party Parliamentary Group on Western Sahara at 3.30pm on 20th
October. Details of Running the Sahara are at

The letter has been signed by Jeremy Corbyn MP (Chair of the APPG on
Western Sahara), John Austin MP, Katy Clark MP, David Drew MP, Hwyel
Williams MP, Kelvin Hopkins MP, Sally Keeble MP, Ruth Tanner (Head of
Campaigns, War on Want), Mark Leutchford (President, Western Sahara
Campaign UK), Stefan Simanowitz (Chair, Free Western Sahara Network),
Danielle Smith (Chair, Sandblast), Professor Isabel Santaolalla School
of Arts Roehamoton University and Y Lamine Baali (Polisario
representative for the UK).

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