The Rt Hon David Miliband MP Secretary of State Foreign and Commonwealth Office King Charles Street London SW1A 2AH
Dear Mr Miliband,
I am writing to you about human rights in Western Sahara and the EU’s proposal to grant ‘advanced status’ to Morocco.
Saharawi citizens living under occupation Western Sahara live under threat of violent abuses of their human rights including rape, false imprisonment and torture. Despite this the EU proposes to grant ‘advanced status’ to Morocco.
I believe this is a fundamental opportunity to improve the human rights situation in Western Sahara, and it is imperative that the UK Government acts to ensure this happens.
Since the start of Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara in 1975, there have been numerous human rights abuses against Saharawi citizens, and since 2005 the situation has grown measurably worse. Police brutality is extreme, and those who object to the occupation of their country suffer violent recriminations. There are many cases of ‘disappearances’ where Saharawis are taken from their family home without warning by Moroccan Security forces. Many families have spent years trying to determine what has happed to their loved ones
This is documented by organisations including the Western Sahara Campaign, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and War on Want. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) also sent a delegation to the region in 2006 and expressed serious concerns about the human rights situation and the refusal of the Moroccan authorities to acknowledge responsibility for this.
I find it shocking that the EU holds itself up as a defender of human rights, and yet it is considering deepening its already close relationship with a country which perpetrates gross violations of human rights against Saharawi citizens.
The UK Government must ensure that the EU does not miss this opportunity to end human rights abuses in Western Sahara. I am calling on you to insist that ‘advanced status’ must not be granted without a full investigation of the human rights abuses and a clear agenda for action to end the human rights abuses against Saharawi citizens.
Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
Leading activists from Western Sahara are condemned to sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment in connection to a mass protest in 2010 denouncing the Saharawi people’s social and economic marginalization in their occupied land; the Gdeim Izik protest camp.
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