Please do not ask me to be silent. (27)

In his youth, my father lived the experience of the Liberation Army, in the 50s of last century. He participated in most of its military battles from the north of the Sahara to northern Mauritania, in which his feet were seriously wounded. He lived through the end of the Liberation Army and the political struggles that accompanied its dismantling in 1958. He was among the delegation of sergeants who met “Sultan Muhammad V” as the Sahrawis used to call him.

 

When the Polisario began their activity in the region in 1974, and presented their project to the population, he was not enthusiastic about their claim, like most of the leaders of the Sahrawi tribes who witnessed the experience of the Liberation Army and did not want to enter into a new adventure run from outside the borders of the region.

We were during that period resorting to the eastern valleys in which the front rebels were active. My father had held a meeting with some of their leaders around Mehaires", in which he informed them of his position that he was not with the front project and not against those who fight the colonists.

 

The clan was divided between two communities, one in "R’beeb Lemghader" and the other in "Tazoa". Many of its youth had joined the ranks of the front, without this changing the relations between its members.

One night in the fall of 1975, “Ould Labsir” came to my father on behalf of the front and told him that the Moroccan army was preparing to enter the region and that Spain might leave at any time and gave him 40 weapons to defend themselves in case the clan was attacked by the Moroccan forces.

 After the departure of “Ould Labsir”, my father asked “Mahdi Ould Muhammad al-Sheikh” who was one of the trusted young men of the tribe, to dig a hole outside the camp and burry those weapons without anyone seeing it.

 

A few nights later, my father went to the section of the clan in "Tazoa" and found that members of the front had come before his arrival and took our shepherd “Abdullah” by force, on the pretext that he was one of the Moroccans from the north, who had become enemies. They took the herd’s donkey with them too. The sheep were then under the care of “Khatri Ould Mohamed Mouloud (Dada)”.

 

After my father returned from Tazoa, one of the sons of “Lembarek” passed through our camp and told my father that the Moroccan army had entered Smara.

When the people learned about the news of the Moroccan army entering the nearby city of Smara, panic spread over them. There were many rumors of the oppression of the Moroccan army.

To calm them down, my father met with the men of the clan and said that he will go to the city in the morning, to find out who were these new rulers, and if he does not return to them the next day, then what they hear about them is true and they must flee.

 

At dawn the next day, he crossed 30 km to the city, where he arrived at midday, and found it a ghost town, in which only 12 people remained, who showed him to the headquarters of the military force.

He went to the housing complex called "Legbibat", where he found some soldiers and asked them about the commander. One of them ran to one of the houses and came back quickly to tell him that the commander was asking for him.

My father entered, showing signs of travel and fatigue, on an officer surrounded by a group of subordinates as it seemed from their apparent behavior.

 

The officer immediately asked him what he wanted, my father told him that he was one of the leaders of the Sahrawi tribes and that he had many families in the "R’beeb Lemghader area, he wanted trucks to take them to a safe place close to the city.

One of the attendees asked: How can we trust this person coming from a place where the Polisario is active? The officer replied: the condition of this person obviates his question, we will go with him to transport the families as he has traveled more than thirty kilometers to reach us, and let whatever happens happen.

 

In the early morning, my father and the officer rode in a small jeep accompanied by a military force and a number of trucks. Close to the clan gathering, they stopped by my uncle “Nasri Ould  Sidi Mouloud” driving a flock of sheep alone, my father asked him about his family, and he told him that his eldest son "Sheikha" took them last night to the front and he was the only one left. 

The officer said to my father, ask your brother, if he wants to go with you, we leave one of the trucks to carry him and his sheep, and if he wants to join his sons with the Polisario, let him continue on his way. My uncle chose to join his family at the front and they let him go on his way.

 

When the military force approached the clan camp, the officer ordered the military force to guard the surrounding areas, and advanced by trucks towards the tents. On that day, everyone was transported to "Legoyis" near Smara. The next day, the trucks went to the second camp in Tazoa and they brought them all except for the family of “Lamin Ould Abiya (Niya)”. They found that all of their men went to the Polisario, and only the women and children remained, so they left them to join their men at the front.

 

The story continues….

 

 

12/01/2021