Expelled:African Parliament vice-president denied taking part in COP22
Article image
The vice-president of the Panafrican Parliament, Suelma Beirouk, was to attend COP22, but is now being held by Moroccan police. Morocco has occupied her homeland Western Sahara - and illegally built windmills on it.
Published 07 November 16


This story is being continuously updated

For 40 years, Morocco has occupied the former Spnish colony of Western Sahara. Half the people of Western Sahara had to flee when Morocco invaded. One of them was Suelma Beirouk, a young activist for independence from Spain.

Now, Suelma Beirouk is the vice-president of the Pan-African Parliament. In that capacity, she was in the preparatory committee for the COP21.

From what WSRW understands, Suelma Beiruk was last night, 6 November, detained by the Moroccan police as she was about to leave Marrakech airport and head to the city center, where COP22 is being hosted. She was to attend as a representative of the African Union.

"A man came running after her and asked her to return", WSRW was told from a relative of hers. "They instructed her to wait at the airport", WSRW was told.

Beirouk has since last night been held at the airport. She has apparently alerted the African Union, who is said to be on the case. Morocco is the only country of Africa that is not a member of that Union.

It is not clear to WSRW what reasons have been given for preventing her from leaving the airport.

UPDATE, 7 Nov 2016, 14:12, Mrs. Beirouk communicated to WSRW that she had been told by the Moroccan airport police she was not allowed to go to Marrakech."The Moroccans have not allowed me to enter Marrakech", she wrote

UPDATE, 18:34: Beirouk's daughter is interviewed by Radio France International. Beirouk had all papers in order for the attendance, and was representing the African Parliament. She was ordered to take a flight to Oran in Algeria.

UPDATE, 21:15: The African Union vice president is still held - now at Casablanca airport. The last communication with her was a bit after 7PM. She had then been told she was to be deported to Nouakchott in Mauritania, no longer to Algeria. Beirouk's phone is off.

UPDATE, 22:29. All still unclear. She is said to be still in Casablanca, and that she is to travel to Algiers tomorrow.


While keeping the territory under occupation, expelling UN peace keepers, refusing the UN Secretary-General access to the land, and preventing the self-determination process in Western Sahara, Morocco is also building renewable energy infrastructure on the occupied territory.

That infrastructure is used by a state company to exploit the depleting mineral reserves there, as detailed in a report WSRW published on 2 November. Morocco applies the alleged "sustainable" energy to cement the occupation itself.

Morocco has not sought the consent of the people of the land to carry out such projects - a situation which the UN Human Rights Council expressed concerns about this week. Neither Morocco, nor its two partners in that sector, German company Siemens or Italian company Enel have lifted a finger to hear the opinion of the Saharawis. Nareva, the company of the Moroccan king, fails to respond to questions on human rights in a study published last week by Business and Human Rights.

Yesterday, hundreds of Saharawis protested against Morocco, Siemens and Enel.


Telecom cables laid in occupied waters

The French company Alcatel Submarine Networks SpA, partially owned by Nokia, has laid telecom cables in occupied Western Sahara. 

19 April 21

Report reveals clients of Western Sahara’s conflict mineral

India and New Zealand stand out as the main importers of phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara, in WSRW’s newest annual report on the controversial trade. 

13 April 21

These are the questions that Siemens will not answer

At its Annual General Meeting, Siemens Gamesa was as evasive as ever with regard to core questions about the company's involvement in occupied Western Sahara.

01 April 21

Shipping company responses to the report P for Plunder 2020

The WSRW report P for Plunder 2021 to be published in April 2021 will contain information on all 22 vessels that departed occupied Western Sahara from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020.

22 March 21