Trial against Saharawi natural resource coordinator postponed
The leader of the Saharawi committee for protection of natural resources has spent 14 months in jail, as trial against him was postponed on January 13. Demonstrations and police violence erupt in Western Sahara following the decision.
Mr. Sidahmed Lemjiyed (to the right), secretary general of CSPRON, the Saharawi committee for protection of natural resources, is one of 23 Saharawi political prisoners who were supposed to have been before a Moroccan court in Rabat on 13 January. The group has been imprisoned since 2010, when they were arrested following the massive protest wave in Western Sahara.
According to a statement from CSPRON following the Attorney General's decision to adjourn the process, the decision of postponing was natural, taking into consideration the large presence of international observers.
The group furthermore denounced the legal proces so fars, “firstly, due to placing civilian Saharawis before a military court, secondly, since the process is not taking place in Western Sahara, but in Morocco, thirdly, due to the continued delays of the legal process against the imprisoned. “
CSPRON also urged the international community to put pressure on Morocco to release the political prisoners.
Dozens of relatives of the detainees and European observers demonstrated before the court in Rabat following the decision. The banners written in Arabic and French denounced the persecution of civilian citizens by the military courts.
Also in occupied El Aaiún, at the avenue Mezouar and Al Quds, hundreds of Saharawi citizens demonstrated in solidarity with the imprisoned Saharawis. The Moroccan police intervened, and several Saharawis were left injured (see video above). One Saharawi group claims that more than thirty men and women were injured. Two Saharawi houses were supposedly stormed. Also Saharawis in Smara and at the University of Agadir are said to have taken part in the protests.
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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