Enaama Asfari was born to a Saharawi family in 1970 in Tan Tan, a town in the south of Morocco. Enaama’s family was torn apart when the war over Western Sahara broke out in 1975. In that same year, the Moroccan authorities imprisoned his father, a known Saharawi militant. Enaama was only a 5 year old boy at the time. He would not see his father again until 1991, when Enaama was 21. His mother had died while his father was in jail.
In his late twenties, holding a degree in international law and economics, Enaama moved to Paris to pursue a master in international relations. Not forgetting the plight of his people, he founded the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights in Western Sahara (CORELSO) with his French wife.
Enaama’s activism would lead to arrests whenever he’d go back to visit his family, that had relocated to El Aaiun, the capital of Western Sahara. He’s been arrested 6 times over the past 7 years. In 2009, he was thrown in prison for 4 months over holding a keychain that depicted the Saharawi flag.
Enaama was arrested on 7 November 2010, on the eve of the dismantlement of the Gdeim Izik camp. He was visiting a friend in El Aaiun, when the Moroccan secret police came for him. He was taken to an unknown location where he held blindfolded and handcuffed.
The Committee against Torture (CAT) found in a decision related to Enaama, dated 12 December 2016, that Morocco was in violation of multiple articles listed in the Convention against torture. Including torture during arrest and interrogation (art.1); failure to investigate (art.12); violation of the right to complain (art.13); obligation to compensate and reparation (art.14); usage of confessions obtained through torture (art. 15); and inhuman treatment in detention (art. 16). As such, the decision clearly states that Eênama Asfari has suffered under violent torture, and that the government has refrained from investigating this.
On the 19th of July, Asfari was sentenced to 30 years in prison, condemned for participation to murder of public officials in their line of duty, with the intent to kill. The prosecutor in the Appeal Court of Salé described Asfari as the leader of the Gdeim Izik camp, described by the Moroccan state as a military camp. The main evidence against Enaama was the police records (confessions), and the confessions is the sole piece of evidence proving that Enaama in fact was in the Gdeim Izik camp when it was dismantled; contrary to what Eenaama himself and two support witnesses states; that he was arrested on 7 November 2010.
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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