October 16: 40th Anniversary of King Hassan II’s Green March Speech

October 16, 2015 marks the 40th Anniversary of the Green March Speech when Morocco’s late King Hassan II urged the Moroccan people to stage a pacific march into the so-called Western Sahara region, in order to put an end to Spain’s colonization of the territory.

The Green March will become a “unique historical event of its kind and its philosophy,” as it allowed the Moroccan people to free the territory from Spanish yoke by using a non-violent defense strategy.

On October 16, 1975, the International Court of Justice ruled that the Western Sahara was not terra nullis when Spain started its occupation of the territory since 1884 and acknowledged the existence of legal ties of allegiance between the rulers of Morocco and the Sahara to reinforce Morocco’s position and that’s when the late King Hassan II urged to action.

Following the verdict of the international Court of Justice, Morocco’s King delivered a speech to the nation from the Royal Palace in Marrakech.

A YouTube video recalled King Hassan II’s speech along with a series of 1975 images from the Green March.

“We have to do one thing dear people and that is to undertake a peaceful march from the north, the east, the west to the south. It behooves us to act as one man in order to join the Sahara,” King Hassan II said.

The sovereign’s call to action was received with enthusiasm. On November 6, 1975, more than 350,000 Moroccans marched along with the Koran, Moroccan flags and banners that read: “return of the Moroccan Sahara”.

The popular march proved to be a “genius political move” by King Hassan II that brought positive results to Morocco.

Spain was allegedly going through a difficult political time under the dictatorship of General Franco, and agreed to cede the possession of the colony to Morocco.

On February 28, 1976, the Moroccan flag was raised in the Sahara to illustrate the end of an era – Spanish colonization in the reclaimed Moroccan province had come to an end.

Nowadays, the question of sovereignty of the self-proclaimed Western Sahara continues to create a civil war between the Polisario-ruled SADR and the Kingdom’s mainland.