Sahrawis have risen up against recurrent cases of rape in Tindouf camps, the Polisario Front leadership of remaining silent on the growing issue.
Activists launched the hashtag “No to Rape” calling for action to protect Sahrawi women from sexual abuse and violence.
No to Rape
A campaign has been launched on social media by Sahrawis denouncing the increasing cases of rape in the camps.
“The proliferation of rape [in the camps] is dangerous,” reads one post on Facebook. “Why is it occurring as if it’s something normal? If we remain silent, we’ll allow it to proliferate even more.”
Activists on social media attributed Polisario’s silence to the fact that the sons of Front leaders have been accused on involvement in the rape cases.
“Why is it that the Polisario leadership standing against the ‘No to Rape’ campaign?” asks another activist. “Is it because there are information about their sons being involved in rape?”
The campaign initiators pointed to the fact that rape has become the second biggest threat to social peace in the camps, after drug use.
Many rape cases take place in the infamous Dhaibia prison, nicknamed “The Grove”. In December 2016, a video of a Sahrawi woman named Babba Mint M’barek Ould Zoubeir was posted on Youtube, in which she tells how she had been raped and tortured by Polisario leaders during 11 years of imprisonment in Dhaibia, between 2002 and 2013.
Mint M’bark said she had been raped outside the prison and was then put in Dhaibia by Polisario members to cover up the crime.
“I was tortured and raped in prison” she says. “I gave birth to my son there. There were two other young girls with me in prison. One of them was raped by the chief prosecutor. She had a hemorrhage and was taken to [hospital in] Tindouf where she died.”
Her fate was the same as her prison mate. Mint M’barek died as a consequence of 11 years of imprisonment. One of her acquaintances posted the video in hope that her message will reach the world.
“I call on international organizations to intervene to uncover the truth about what’s happening here,” she pleaded. “These women can only leave prison whey someone agrees to marry one of them. But who would marry a woman who lost her honor?”
Many women are still experiencing the ordeal Mint M’barek and her prison mates had to endure.
“I call on you [Sahrawis] to set the Dhaibia prison on fire or your souls will burn in sorrow over your daughters and sisters and mothers and grand-daughters,” urges an activist on Facebook.
Ghali “the Rapist”
In 2013, Khadijatou Mahmoud Mohamed Zoubeir, a young Sahrawi woman who grew up in Tindouf camps, filed a complaint in Spain against the current Polisario leader Brahim Ghali.
Khadijatou said she was raped in 2010 by Ghali, then Polisario’s ambassador to Algiers, inside the embassy.
The accuser said she went to the embassy asking for Ghali’s help to get a visa to Spain to take part in civil activities. Ghali had served also as Polisario’s delegate to Spain between 1999 and 2008.
Khadijatou says that Ghali then proceeded to sexually harass her before raping her with the help of Abdelkader El Ouali, son of Polisario’s Prime Minister, Abdelkader Taleb Oumar, whom she too accused of rape and violence.
In addition to these accusations, the Polisario leader is subject to legal complaints in Spain by Sahrawis for crimes of murder, damages, illegal arrest, terrorism, tortures and disappearances, all committed in Tindouf.
In November 2016, Ghali he was due to attend a pro-Polisario conference in Barcelona, he cancelled the trip due to an order by the national court judge José de la Mata, in Madrid, to gather information about the Polisario leader
He was summoned to appear before the court for the previously mentioned accusations.