The Leadership Council for human Rights is outraged by the continuous arrogance of the RFK center report on the supposed abuses of human rights in Western Sahara. This report comes at a critical time when the US Moroccan relations are a critical juncture.
Historical context is necessary to address the impacts that still remain from the cold war. As a reminder, the Polisario is a guerrilla group who emerged as a movement supported by the eastern block through Libya and Algeria to destabilize Morocco who chose to side with the west.
It is, therefore, irresponsible for an outsider like RFK center to make judgements and untruths by looking at the Western Sahara issue through the lens of the Polisario, a movement that has been suspected to have links with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The Mali crisis and the french military intervention finally exposed the link.
In counter point to the RFK report which ignores the reality on the ground, the Leadership council for human rights report details a wide range of interviews with individuals and NGO’s representing all aspects of the Western Sahara and the camps through recent escapees.
Unfortunately, Algeria would not allow the Leadership Council delegation to visit the camps. The delegation was fortunate to meet with a range of members of refugees recently escaped from the camps.
A member of the Leadership council delegation, Mrs Nancy Huff, President of Teach the Children International, spent years visiting and working in the Tindouf camps.
Mrs Huff says ” here is how things really are in the camps: the atrocities inflicted by the Polisario on the people who escaped the camps, pale in comparison to the conditions of the dissidents.
The dissidents in Morocco are given the right to demonstrate, organize themselves in associations, speak freely even if it is against the government. This is obviously not the case in the camps. People are warehoused and spread in different camps outside a brick compound containing what they call a school, a food distribution storage and other services. These compounds are walled in and heavily guarded because that’s where foreigners stay most of the time”.
During interaction with the recently returnees from the camps, the delegation was particularly shocked to hear of the dangers Sahrawis endured when escaping the camps.
“It is rare to find someone who escaped from the camps who does not have a story of torture, beatings, imprisonment – sometimes even women put in prison with their babies and small children-, killings, sexual favors to obtain food for their families in addition to family “dismembering” -
The members of the delegation also spoke to people who pleaded with RFK delegation to check on their families back in the camps. Unfortunately, this one on one independent meetings were not part of RFK’s agenda.
This is unfortunate because if RFK delegation had met with independent actors, there would have been a different truth told. A truth that supporting separatists can have ramifications that could cause irreparable harm to the US and the entire region.
Call for action
Because the Saharawis have been warehoused for 37 years, the people are weary and the population of the Tindouf Camps is disillusioned, which has caused them, mainly the youth, to begin to look to other places for solutions. One of the major sources that give them promise is unfortunately not the best solution. Many are embracing the doctrine of AQIM and al Qaeda. While the youth look one direction, the corruption of the Polisario leadership continues to build.
The Leadership Council for Human Rights is disappointed at the monitary and diplomatic support granted to the Polisario guerilla group by countries and organizations who tend to ignore that AQIM is seeking a safe haven on the Atlantic shores of Africa!