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    AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: Morocco/Western Sahara: New arrests
    and allegations of torture of Sahrawi human rights defenders

    AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

    Public Statement

    AI Index: MDE 29/004/2005 (Public)
    News Service No: 207
    1 August 2005


    Morocco/Western Sahara: New arrests and allegations of torture of
    Sahrawi human rights defenders



    Amnesty International is concerned about the recent arrest and
    detention of six human rights defenders in Western Sahara in the context of
    politically charged protests in Laayoune and several other cities in
    Morocco and Western Sahara. The organization said it was particularly
    disturbed by reports that two of them had been tortured.

    Some of those arrested are former ?disappeared?, others are
    former prisoners of conscience. All six are long-standing human rights
    defenders who have been instrumental in collecting and disseminating
    information about human rights violations, including during the policing of
    a recent wave of pro-independence demonstrations in the territory of
    Western Sahara, which Morocco controversially annexed in 1975.

    The rights activists are under investigation for allegedly
    participating in or promoting an armed gathering. Amnesty International
    fears that they have been targeted because of their human rights work
    during recent events or their openly held views in favour of independence
    of Western Sahara.

    Human rights defenders Mohamed El Moutaouakil, Houssein Lidri,
    Brahim Noumria and Larbi Messaoud were arrested by Moroccan security
    forces on 20 July. They were reportedly questioned in connection with the
    recent unrest and their pro-independence views. On 23 July they were
    remanded in custody while a judicial investigation continues. Another
    human rights defender, Fdaili Gaoudi, was detained for three days and
    released without charge.

    Two of the men, Houssein Lidri and Brahim Noumria, were
    reportedly tortured by security officers in a secret detention centre in
    Laayoune, Western Sahara, on the day of their arrest. They allege that they
    were suspended in contorted positions with their hands tied and their
    eyes blindfolded, beaten on sensitive parts of the body and that a
    chemical substance was poured on them and they were burnt with cigarettes
    and open flames. Although both men informed the judicial authorities on
    21 July that they had been subjected to torture, no investigation into
    these allegations is known to have been opened. Houssein Lidri was
    reportedly tortured again for several hours on 22 July.

    On the day preceding his arrest, Houssein Lidri had given an
    interview to the Arabic satellite television channel, Al-Jazeera, on the
    arrest of another human rights activist, Ali Salem Tamek, on 18 July.
    Ali Salem Tamek had been arrested upon arrival at Laayoune airport after
    an extended stay in Europe where he had spoken publicly of recent
    events in Western Sahara and advocated independence for the territory. He
    was abroad while the demonstrations occurred, but is also under
    investigation with regard to his role in the protests. Another human rights
    defender, Aminatou Haidar, has been in detention since 17 June and is
    facing trial on charges including violence against public servants on duty
    and participation in an armed gathering.

    The recent arrests of the six human rights defenders took place
    in the context of repression of politically-charged demonstrations,
    which began in late May 2005. Reports from independent observers indicate
    that most of these demonstrations were peaceful. However, some
    demonstrations reportedly turned violent, resulting in material damage and
    minor injuries to several security force agents. Moroccan security forces
    were accused of using excessive force during the policing of the
    protests and of torturing and ill-treating protesters they detained. Amnesty
    International wrote to the Moroccan authorities on 21 June to urge them
    to investigate these allegations, but has not so far received a
    response. Twenty-one protesters have since been sentenced to suspended prison
    terms and prison terms of up to 20 years? imprisonment on charges of
    formation of a criminal gang, use of weapons, sabotage of public property
    and violence against public servants on duty.

    Amnesty International fears that the human rights activists
    have been arrested, tortured and put on trial because of their reporting
    on recent human rights violations. There had been earlier reports that
    local human rights defenders and journalists had been assaulted,
    harassed or intimidated by officials, and in some cases briefly detained. The
    Moroccan authorities also prevented several international delegations,
    seeking to investigate what occurred during the unrest, from entering
    Western Sahara.

    Amnesty International is urging the Moroccan authorities:

    - immediately to investigate the allegations that Houssein Lidri and
    Brahim Noumria were tortured and ensure they obtain any medical attention
    they may require;
    - to guarantee the right to a fair trial, including by ensuring that no
    statements made under duress will be used to obtain convictions;
    - to ensure that any officials found to have ordered, used or condoned
    torture are identified and promptly brought to justice;
    - to uphold the right of human rights defenders to collect and
    disseminate information on human rights violations without fear of reprisals.


    Background
    Human rights activists in Western Sahara have repeatedly been targeted
    for their human rights work in recent years. Some have been prevented
    from travelling abroad to report on human rights violations, others have
    been arbitrarily imprisoned. In many cases, activities deemed to be
    illegal relate to the right peacefully to exercise freedom of opinion and
    to disseminate information and views on human rights issues to outside
    bodies, such as international human rights organizations.

    Most of those arrested were members of the Sahara branch of a
    human rights organization, the Forum for Truth and Justice, until it was
    dissolved by court order in June 2003 on the grounds that the
    organization had undertaken illegal activities that were likely to disturb
    public order and undermine the territorial integrity of Morocco. The
    activities described as illegal appeared to relate solely to members of the
    organization exercising their right to express peacefully their opinions
    on self-determination for the Sahrawi people and disseminate views
    relating to human rights issues. Although the organisation was dissolved,
    they have continued individually to document human rights violations in
    Western Sahara.

  • #2
    Are you in any way related to " BRUM" ?

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    • #3
      related?

      Nope.

      Comment


      • #4
        Shame on Algerian goverment. whats wrong with us? we are arabs and we should be one nation not everyone tearing another... What a pity!
        Moderator.

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