Morocco cops beat up Sahrawi protesters

2013-12-09 14:53

(Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Rabat - Moroccan police violently suppressed a peaceful protest in the Western Sahara against a planned EU fishing accord with Rabat that covers the disputed territory's waters, witnesses said Monday.

About 50 demonstrators, many of them women, gathered in the Laayoune city centre on Saturday evening carrying banners and chanting slogans, including "stop taking our resources," one witness told AFP by phone.

The protesters were heavily outnumbered by police, who attacked them with batons, beating and injuring many of them, said Hamoud Iguilid from the Moroccan association of human rights, who was also present.

Women and children were among the injured, but no arrests were reported.

Unverifiable video footage posted on the Internet showed the police snatching placards held by the protesters and severely beating them.

The protest comes ahead of a vote in the European parliament on Tuesday to ratify a new four-year fishing accord with Morocco, which would allow more than 120 EU fishing boats, most of them Spanish, to access the waters of Morocco and Western Sahara.

The European parliament refused to extend the previous accord in December 2011, saying it did not sufficiently taking into account the interests of the people of the Western Sahara, which Morocco annexed in 1975 in a move never recognised by the international community.

Moroccan exploitation of the territory's natural resources, notably its phosphate reserves, has been a key issue in the dispute with the Polisario Front, which fought for independence until a UN-brokered ceasefire in 1991.

Human rights

"The Sahrawi community is boiling over with frustration vis-vis the EU," said Erik Hagen, who heads Western Sahara Resource Watch, an international lobby group.

"According to international law and a legal opinion by the UN, the people of the territory must consent to deals in the territory of Western Sahara... The EU accord would be a slap in the face for human rights and peace in Western Sahara," he added.

If ratified, the new accord would see Morocco receiving €40m in financial aid annually.

The EU would pay €16m in compensation for access to its waters, and another 14 million euros to support the country's fisheries sector, while the European shipowners would pay Morocco €10m.

Rabat has vowed to invest heavily in Western Sahara in order to boost development and create jobs.

But the government has increasingly come in for criticism over human rights violations in the disputed territory, which it considers an integral part of its territory, and where separatist protests are not tolerated.

A UN working group on arbitrary detention began a ten-day visit to Morocco on Monday, during which it is scheduled to visit Laayoune.

Read more on:    un  |  eu  |  morocco  |  north africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.