Tuesday 19th of February, the Moroccan authorities in El Aaiun, Western Sahara detained a Sahrawi trade union activist, Sidi Ahmed Moussa Eddia, 59 years old, as well as his wife (Lakhlifi Lalla Sallam, 48 years old, mother of ten children) and a European delegation representing three trade unions from Italy, Spain and France.
According to the Sahrawi human rights organisation, the trade union representatives are: - Victoria Montero, president of the international relations of the trade union, CCOO, Spain - Juan Ortega, a member of the same organisation, - Jean Jacques Guigon, responsible for the international relations of the CGT, France, and - Leopoldo Tartaglia representing the CGIL in Italy, and responsible for the relation with North Africa.
All of them had been discussing at Mr. Eddia’s house, (located in Rue Tifelt Number 136, Elhay Elhajari district, El Aaiun, WS) while the Moroccan forces intervened and detained the four trade union activists, Mr Edia and his wife at about 12:30 Tuesday.
At the police station, the European activists were interrogated about the motives of their visit to the Western Sahara and their relationship to Mr. Eddia, according to the Sahrawi human rights organisation CODESA.
The Moroccan authorities released the Sahrawi and European trade union activists after four hour-interrogation in the the central police office. The activists were set free without being accused of any charges.
CODESA denounces the act and urges the Moroccan state to stop harassing and intimidating the Sahrawi activists as well as the foreign delegations coming to unveil the human rights abuses committed by the Moroccan authorities in the territory.
According to a statement from the CCOO trade union, the European representatives were detained by the local police as they were sitting in a meeting with the former Sahrawi workers. The delegation was in El Aaiun to meet with workers who should be entitled to pensions from the Spanish government after having worked under Spanish contracts in the phosphate mines.
After Morocco took control of the mines, most of the Sahrawi phosphate workers lost their jobs in the industry.
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.
It's not easy keeping up with all the different legal proceedings relating to Western Sahara. For the sake of clarity, here's an overview of the five different cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union.
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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