Cheikh Lkouri Bouzid Banga was born and raised in Assa, south of Morocco – home to a large Saharawi population that fled to the north when Morocco invaded Western Sahara. Cheikh grew up in a warm family, with his 2 brothers and 5 sisters.
Having a mind for books, Cheikh did well at school, but had to drop out due to repeated incarcerations. The Moroccan authorities prohibited him from continuing his studies after his release from prison. In spite thereof, he’s pursuing his bachelor degree in law from Salé 2 prison. Ever the avid reader, he’s particularly fond of the work of Noam Chomsky.
Cheikh is the youngest Saharawi prisoner of conscience. He’s been arrested many times for his advocacy for the Saharawi’s right to self-determination. He’s a member of CODESA, President of the Saharawi Committee for Human Rights in Assa and a member of Assa’s local chapter of AMDH (Moroccan Association for Human Rights). At the age of 17, in 2006, he spent 5 months in Anzigane jail. Barely released, he was arrested again in El Aaiun in October 2006 and sentenced to 6 months.
He was arrested on 8 November 2010 on the Gdeim Izik camp site. He had only just arrived on the scene bringing medicine for his aunt, who had pitched her tent in the protest camp. Cheikh was tortured by the Moroccan police before being incarcerated in Salé 2.
Banga was condemned to 30 years in prison by the Court of Appeal in Salé, and found guilty of participation to murder of public officials in their line of duty, with intent to kill. The sole piece of evidence proving the act committed by Banga is the police records, that Banga himself declare are falsified and signed under torture. Banga declared during the proceedings held in the Court of Appeal in Salé that the Moroccan public forces attacked the inhabitants of the camp whilst they were sleeping, and that he had been assaulted and abducted in his tent on 8 November.
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 three 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.