As I noted in my blog of February 16 about the shameful silence of several human rights watch-dog groups concerning the recent uprisings in the Polisario run refugee camps in southern Algeria, it was near time for the State Department to release its annual report to Congress on human rights conditions the world over. The report is out.
I am sad to have to tell you that once again, for the fourth year in a row, the State Department has given both the Polisario Front and Algeria a free ride on the abuse of the refugees’ human rights in the camps.
No discussion of the abuse, beatings and arrests of dissenters in the camps. Not a word about their inability to express themselves freely. No mention of the fact that they are essentially prohibited from packing up their families and belongings and going elsewhere if they so choose.
* No discussion of the abuse, beatings and arrests of dissenters in the camps… Nary a hint about their inability to form any political associations or political parties to express views at odds with those of the Polisario. *
Nary a hint about their inability to form any political associations or political parties to express views at odds with those of the Polisario. Left untouched, the fact that there is no free press allowed in the camps. The list goes on, but I have repeated it here many times before.
Human Rights Watch, the RFK Foundation, the State Department – they all claim to be so concerned about the human rights of the Sahrawis, unless they happen to live under Polisario domination in squalid refugee camps on Algerian soil in a vast desert wasteland far from any prying eyes.
It is really difficult to understand why anyone would give credence to anything any of these organizations have to say about the issue of Sahrawi human rights in the face of this kind of self-evident bias and selective concern that excludes the most vulnerable Sahrawi population on the planet.
I really do not know what to make of this or what to say about it anymore. It is so patently absurd.
No wonder the Sahrawi families I speak with often in southern Morocco are so frustrated with the international community’s seeming indifference to any of their real problems. Who can blame them?
I said “shame on them” in my last blog about human rights in the camps. But if I say double shame on them now, will it make any difference to those who seem beyond any shame at all on this issue?
Don’t blame me though if I just roll my eyes the next time someone from any of these organizations presumes to tell me how much they care about Sahrawi human rights!
Robert M. Holley is Senior Policy Advisor for the Moroccan American Center for Policy, MACP