Western Sahara protesters abused - HRW

2010-11-26 20:04

kalahari.com

Rabat - Moroccan security forces repeatedly beat and abused people they detained during disturbances in Western Sahara earlier this month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Friday.

"The Moroccan authorities should immediately end the abuse of detainees, and carry out an independent investigation into the abuse," which the New York-based rights group said followed the dismantling of a squatter camp on November 8.

The raid on the camp erected by Sahrawis in early October to protest their social and economic conditions in Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara sparked clashes both in the camp and in the nearby city of Laayoune.

Morocco said 11 security officers and at least two civilians were killed, while the separatist Polisario Front said the toll was much higher.

HRW said it had no tally of its own.

"The security forces have the right to use proportionate force to prevent violence and protect human life, but nothing can justify beating people in custody unconscious," HRW's Middle East and North Africa director Sarah Leah Whitson said.

The rights group accused Moroccan security forces and civilians of staging retaliatory attacks on Sahrawi civilians and homes, and blocking wounded Sahrawis from seeking medical treatment.

Security officials detained hundreds of Sahrawis in connection with the disturbances and more than 100 are still being held, HRW said.

They were being investigated on charges such as formation of a criminal gang to commit crimes against persons and property, possession of arms, destruction of public property and using violence against the security forces resulting in injury and death, it said.

Nine more detainees were transferred to Rabat for investigation by a military court, HRW added, quoting human rights lawyers in Laayoune.

Human Rights Watch said it interviewed seven Sahrawis detained following the November 8 violence and then released. The witnesses had severe bruising and other recent wounds that suggested they had been beaten, it said.

"All alleged that the police or gendarmes abused them in custody, including in some cases beating them until they lost consciousness, throwing urine at them, and threatening them with rape," the group said.

Punched and kicked

Leila Leili, a 36-year-old Sahrawi activist, told HRW she was punched and kicked and ordered to shout pro-Moroccan slogans like "Long Live the King", and to say that she was Moroccan.

"I told them that I respect their King and the Moroccan people, but am not Moroccan," HRW quoted her as saying.

Other civilians said their homes were raided and looted by security force members and Moroccan civilians, who attacked and beat them, and in one case fired a shotgun.

Police also beat up HRW's Laayoune-based research assistant Brahim Alansari in the street when he was in the company of a newspaper reporter, the group said.

The European Parliament called Thursday for an independent United Nations probe, saying it "strongly condemns" the incident and voices the "greatest concern about the significant deterioration of the situation in Western Sahara."

Morocco called the resolution one-sided, unfair and hasty.

The UN Security Council also deplored the raid, which coincided with a new round of UN-brokered peace talks between Rabat and the Polisario that ended with both sides agreeing only to meet again in December.

Morocco annexed Western Sahara after Spain pulled out of its former colony in 1975, but the Polisario Front fought the Moroccan presence until the United Nations brokered a ceasefire in 1991.

The Polisario wants a UN-organised referendum on self-determination, with independence as one of the options. Morocco has so far rejected any proposal that goes beyond greater autonomy.

- SAPA
Read more on:    un  |  polisario front  |  human rights watch  |  western sahara  |  morocco  |  north africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

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
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

3 must-do trail runs

If you love trail running, you have to put these on your bucket list.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Climbing the world’s largest stone arch
Awesome extreme sports people
Watch: 2015 Absa Cape Epic route
Watch: Insane road bike skills!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

One day only! – 40% off Appliances!

Get 40% off 100’s of appliances at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a strong desire to be self sufficient, right and in control today. There is a tendency to hold on too tightly to your...read more

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.