A Spanish member of WSRW, Elena Pollán, was detained in her hotel in El Aaiún last Saturday, 8 January. Pollán and her two friends were forced to take a bus to Marrakech airport, accompanied by a plain-clothed police officer. Though no expulsion warrant was issued, they were involuntarily put on a flight to Madrid.
For Spanish Elena Pollán Gonzalez and Covadonga Canteli De Castro, and Argentinean Emilce Haydee Farias this was their fourth visit to the territory over the last few years.
In the 10 days they’ve spent in the territory, the three had been working on a radio program in collaboration with Saharawi women and had attempted to investigate illegal EU fisheries in the occupied territories.
But ever since their arrival in Western Sahara, the three young women had been followed and intimidated by Moroccan police officers.
Last Saturday evening, Pollán, Canteli and Farias were detained by 15 plain-clothed policemen at the Zemour hotel in El Aaiún, the capital of occupied Western Sahara. When their passports were taken from them, it was clear that they’d be kicked out of the country. Yet no reason for the expulsion was given, nor was there any official document justifying such an act.
Their expulsion is another confirmation of the information black-out that Morocco wishes to uphold over Western Sahara.
Dozens of groups have been expelled over the last months, both journalists, parliamentarians and observers. 11 January 2011, 2 Norwegian tourists were expelled from Western Sahara.
The reason given by the police was that they talked with the local population.
In the clip below, Pollán, Canteli and Farias comment on their visit to Western Sahara (in Spanish). Scroll down for an English transcription.My name is Covadonga Canteli, and I’m a Spanish citizen.
My name is Elena Pollán Gonzalez, and I’m a Spanish citizen.
My name is Emilce Haydee Farias, and I’m an Argentinean citizen.
This is the fourth time we’ve travelled to El Aaiún, to continue to fight against the information black-out that has in place for 35 years. For a couple of years, we’ve been working with Saharawi women on compiling condemnations of violations and torture. Moreover, we investigate the plunder of Western Sahara’s natural resources by Morocco and European companies.
We’re aware that at present the possibilities to enter the Western Saharan territory are limited, as the Moroccan government upholds a strong information black-out and also blocks people from entering the territory. This way, the Moroccan armed forces operate in total impunity.
Apart from this difficulty, we consider it important to enter the territory in order to be able to spread and condemn the serious human rights violations that the Saharawi population is subjected to. And all the while the Spanish government and the European governments remain silent and complicit.