"Being sentenced to life doesn't hurt me", Hassana says, "what really hurts me is that I won't be able to return to see my parents, brothers and sisters".
Hassana Alia, born in 1989, is the one that got away. Hassana heard the Military Court's verdict over the radio, in Basque Country, Spain, where he is living today. It doesn't bother him that the Moroccan authorities know of his whereabouts. "I am not going to hide", he says. "I was arrested in 2010 while we were being evicted from the Gdeim Izik camp. The Moroccan police released me twice, because they had no evidence against me. They gave me a visa to leave the country without any difficulty. Now they've condemned me for something they've previously said I didn't do."
Hassana now dedicates his life to raising awareness about his friends who are in jail, condemned to tough sentences on the same grounds as he was. He is militant, but his gaze starts to blur when asked if he would like to go back. Hassana takes a deep breath, and says "not now. I would love to see my parents, my brothers and sisters, my people, my country, but if I would end up in prison, then there would be nothing left for me to do. From the outside, I can tell the world about what has happened to my friends, and fight for them."
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.
At COP22, beware of what you read about Morocco’s renewable energy efforts. An increasing part of the projects take place in the occupied territory of Western Sahara and is used for mineral plunder, new WSRW report documents.