A Sahraoui tragedy :Please do not ask me to be silent. Allow me to breathe (11)

The military vehicle took us off, escorted by several cars, after they had turned off the lights.. On the road we were exposed to warning fire from other cars. Apparently, an agreement took place between the two groups and we stopped in the middle of a valley. They asked me to sit next to a Nitraria plant after they gave me blankets from my luggage that I had brought in anticipation of arrest. The cars and the group were distributed in four directions of the valley.

After the morning prayer, we resumed the journey again and we moved to another valley near “Garet Ba Ali”, and they installed me under the shade of an Acacia tree. I spent my day isolated underneath it like yesterday. One of the leaders brought me lunch, dinner and a cup of tea, that was the only communication between me and them.

The escort groups - all young men except for the two commanders, most of them seemingly in their twenties - took turns guarding at distances from 50 to 100 meters away, with discipline but also without tension sometimes,  as since a month ago the propaganda machine has been operating. They are now guarding the most wanted criminal of the front!!!.


On that day I wanted to go to the bathroom ??? And wherever I went, a guard followed me .. I did not like it and asked the supervising commander to settle this issue, he understood and set a bathroom tree for me. So I had two trees in the valley, one for housing and the other for relief !!!

The second problem was the lack of a book to read, the radio being forbidden. I had to spend the time observing the movement of ants that are abundant in the valley during daylight hours, and the details of the trees. Sometimes the monotony of the day was broken by a quickly passing rodent or some beetles.


Two days passed while we were in that valley. I asked the commander why we were in that place, he said the district did not have a prison. They had informed the leadership about it. Even my cousin, the director of security - the leader of the group, suggested to the leadership that he take me to them in Rabouni without escort, as my attitude and behavior did not seem to provoke any concerns. But officials asked them to keep me with them in open air, which the military group who were holding me did not understand.


On the third day, we moved east towards "Lemgasem" and I was as usual installed under my tree. After a while, I was summoned by one of the guards to a side of the valley, where there was a car isolated from the group. He took me to it and left.


Based on the two people I found in front of me, I knew that the car belonged to the military security service of the front, and the new guests were some of my old directors in the police force : my cousin “Muhammad Lamine Bashri”, who at the time held a high position in the intelligence, and another senior officer named “Laghzal”. 


They said they came to interrogate me .. I asked them whether they meant a judicial investigation, or a security investigation. In both cases, I do not think it is appropriate or legal for me to spend three days so far in the desert, and I would not legalize it for them to accept the investigation under the shade of a tree, unless in the presence of a lawyer of my choice.


Voluntarily, I will tell them about my journey from the day I left the camps until now only for them to know, regardless of what is on their minds.. I will however not accept dealing with any judicial path before guaranteeing my legal rights if I am in a state of arrest and not a case of kidnapping: declared prison, contact with my family, and a lawyer to defend me.


The first interrogation session ended under the tree, provided that the investigators would check back with their leaders and return.

I asked my cousin in charge of the investigation in private and sent with him a message to the leadership saying: 

What happened so far is acceptable and can be justified, arresting a person and interrogating him is legal and normal, but continuing my enforced disappearance will harm you internally and externally. As of what I have done, what I told you is what happened without any addition or omission. The only thing that happened is that I now think that the independence option is not possible and that the autonomy option is now possible and available. It would be foolish to keep chasing a mirage. Arresting me for expressing an opinion is no longer acceptable in our time. I suggest they end this issue before it gets worse. They have their opinion and I have mine, and if they fear that I would change the conviction of the Sahrawis, then you are the first one who has to ask them ( the leaders) to resign, and let the Sahrawis decide their fate.


The story continues...

Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud is a former police chief of the Polisario Front, and political dissident.