Mohamed Bourial was born in 1970, in El Aaiun - the capital of the "Spanish Sahara", as Western Sahara was known under Spanish colonial reign. It would be another 5 years before Morocco took over the role of colonial power in the territory.
Mohamed Bourial is married and has 2 sons. His family lives in El Aaiun. Mohamed tried to make ends meet and occasionally finds a paid, short-term job, but has no steady employment or income.
Tired of the hopeless situation in which many Saharawi are forced to live under Moroccan occupation, Mohamed and his family set up their tent in the Gdeim Izik camp. Mohamed became a member of the so-called Dialogue Committee; a group of camp representatives that regularly met and negotiated with the Moroccan authorities to try and assure better living conditions for the Saharawi people in their own homeland.
He was arrested by the Moroccan army on 8 November 2010 on the camp site. He was taken to the army's headquarters in El Aaiun. There, he spent five days blindfolded, naked and undergoing brutal beatings with a steel cable.
Mohamed Bourial sentenced to 30 years by the Appeal Court in Salé in 2017, found guilty of participation to murder of public officials in their line of duty, with intent to kill.
Bourial acted as the head of the dialogue committee, and explained to the Court of Appeal how the dialogue committee and the government had reached an agreement two days in advance. The minister of infrastructure was expected to appear at the camp site with 9 tents to organize a counting of the population in the camp, so the government could be able to meet the social demands placed forward by the inhabitant. The government didn’t keep their promise, and the inhabitant in the camp was surprised by their attack; which took place 6 o'clock in the early hours on the 8th of November. Bourial declared to the court that
“The Gdeim Izik camp revealed the politics of the Morocco occupier, and how they marginalize the people of Western Sahara, and steal our resources. The Gdeim Izik camp is a product of the marginalization of all Saharawis and of Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara. The camp lasted 28 days. There was no crime. No violence. Morocco attacked on the 8th of November women, children, elderly and men.”
Bourial declared in the Court of Appeal that he was innocent on all charges, and urged that the police records are falsified, and that he did not know the content of them until he was tried in the Military Court of Rabat in 2013. The said police records are the main piece of evidence proving the acts committed by Bourial, and was according to Bourial falsified and signed under torture.
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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