Expelled after interviewing Saharawi on EU fisheries
According to Moroccan police, foreign visitors are not allowed to talk with Saharawi. Several foreign groups have been expelled from Western Sahara or Morocco the last weeks after meeting with local people. This student was kicked out few hours after meeting a network of Saharawi ladies whose sons have disappeared, on 29 January 2011.
A group of 3 Nordic students, and their teacher, was Saturday night ordered by Moroccan police to leave Western Sahara.
The group consists of a Finnish, a Swedish and a Norwegian citizen, in addition to their Swedish teacher.
The delegation, who are studying at the Jakobsberg Folk High School in Sweden, this week-end met with Saharawi human rights activists in the occupied territories. They arrived El Aaiun on Friday, with the purpose to learn about the human rights violations, and whether the Saharawi people wish a renewal of the EU fisheries agreement in Western Sahara.
The group managed to meet some 60-70 Saharawi until the police had had enough. Around midnight, five plain clothed police officers came to their hotel in El Aaiun, and explained that they are not longer welcome in the territory.
"They explained that we, as foreigners, are not allowed to speak with the local population. The more we asked about why that is not allowed, the angrier the police got", explained Line Røssevold, one of the members of the group. Ms. Røssevold is the one appearing in the above Youtube video.
She explains that Moroccan plain clothed police had followed them all the way from the moment they'd left Morocco.
"They were sitting next to us on the bus into Western Sahara, and they have been living next doors in the hotel since we checked in. The police has followed us every single hour since we arrived in the territory", she told.
This is not the first time that foreign visitors are told not to meet Saharawi. Several dozens of groups of parliamentarians, journalists and tourists have been expelled from Western Sahara and Morocco over the last months. Morocco has illegally occupied Western Sahara since 1975.
EU is fishing in occupied Western Sahara in violation of international law. The UN has stated that the local people, the Saharawi, must be consulted if it is to be legal. However, the EU has never consulted the Saharawi living under Moroccan occupation. The Saharawi ladies interviewed on the video represent a network of women whose sons have disappeared.
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.
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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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