Hunger striking for an answer to request for appeal
Tomorrow, a group of Saharawi political prisoners will commence hunger strikes to make the Moroccan government respond to their request for appeal. Some are serving life sentences for their participation in the 2010 mass-protest against Morocco's marginalisation of the people of the Western Sahara territory.
Tomorrow morning, 21 Saharawi political prisoners will commence a 48 hour hunger strike as a message to the Moroccan authorities. From what Western Sahara Resource Watch understands, the group demands to be released or to have their case immediately appealed. They also demand to be promptly transfered to the prison in El Aaiun in occupied Western Sahara, closer to where their families live.
If their demands are not met, they will start an unlimited hunger strike early March, the group told WSRW.
Only days after their sentence in February 2013, the group filed a request to appeal with the Court of Appeal. They've still not received a reply to that request. The military court sentenced the Saharawi activists to absurdly severe punishments for their alleged participation in the Gdeim Izik camp. Read about the Gdeim Izik group here.
«It is difficult to describe the feeling of frustration with regard to the situation that we are in – and our frustration over the EU's approach to the conflict and our resources», Sidahmed Lemjiyed wrote to WSRW. Lemjiyed is the secretary-general of CSPRON, an association working for the protection of natural resources in Western Sahara. He has been an outspoken opponent of the illegal EU partnerships with Morocco covering the occupied territory, located outside of the internationally recognised borders of Morocco.
«We were sentenced to lifetime prison sentences by a military court for claiming our socio-economic rights and condemning the plunder. And now we are to sit here for the rest of our lives being denied the possibility to appeal? The EU, on the other hand, is found to breach European law through its agreement with Morocco covering the land that I am from, but they can appeal easily. The injustice that EU leaders can appeal a legitimate verdict, while we don't even receive an answer to our request to appeal an illegimate sentence, is keeping me awake at night» Lemjiyed wrote to Western Sahara Resource Watch.
In 2013 a Moroccan military court sentenced Lemjiyed to lifelong incarceration for his participation in the 2010 protest. During the court's session, Lemjiyed spoke about the UN Legal Opinion of 2002, concluding that the wishes and interests of the Saharawi people are legal requirements for the lawful exploitation or exploration of Western Sahara's resources. The Opinion is systematically misrepresenting by both the EU and Morocco, much to the dismay of the former UN Legal Counsel who authored the text.
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.