Member of Western Sahara Resource Watch, Elena Pollán, was this week-end forced to leave Western Sahara after harassment from Moroccan police. Pollán was carrying out interviews with Saharawi about the illegal EU fisheries in the territory.
Member and researcher of Western Sahara Resource Watch, Spanish Elena Pollán González, travelled on 25 May to El Aaiún, Western Sahara to carry out talks with Saharawi activists. But after only 2 days, she was forced to leave the territory.
The purpose of her trip was two-fold. She wanted to meet with the two activists Hayat Erguibi and Nguia El Hawasi who were recently released from jail, where the two young women had been since 8 December 2010, without having committed any crime whatsoever.
During her visit, Elena Pollán and her fellow activist Raquel Ramírez also wanted to meet with activists to for collecting testimonies against the EU fisheries in the territory, which the EU parliament's legal services have concluded to be in violation of international law.
They also wanted to meet with family members of the Saharawi Said Dambar, The young Saharawi who was killed in a shooting by a police officer in El Aaiún earlier this year. Since then, Dambar's family has been demanding an official autopsy.
Early morning on Saturday 28th of May, more than a dozen police officers violently entered into the house in which the two Spanish women were lodged. The policemen were accompanied by the governor of El Aaiún, who violently reprimanded them, temporarily confiscating their passports, and forced them to stay in a hotel where they were continuously under police surveillance, standing on each corner outside of the hotel.
"The pure act of removing the curtains of the room, meant that the policemen on the outside made phone calls with their mobiles for every movement we made on the inside", declared Raquel Ramírez today, Sunday 29 May at Barajas airport in Madrid.
"In light of the harrassment and the surveillance we saw it would be impossible to continue our work to collect testimonies, and that we would put at risk our Saharawi friends with whom we have worked on documenting the issue of natural resources. So we saw no option than to return to Spain", Elena Pollán stated.
The two activists were under continuous surveillance until they caught the return flight. The same governor was present when they took their bus to travel to Marrakech.
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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