See also:
» 03.03.2011 - Calls for new Morocco protests on Sunday
» 21.10.2010 - "Mass exodus" from Western Sahara cities
» 31.03.2010 - Berber languages "threatened in Morocco, Algeria"
» 11.02.2010 - Morocco-Polisario revive talks
» 03.02.2010 - New talks on Western Sahara in US
» 17.11.2009 - Unblock foreign visits to Sahrawi activists, HRW
» 23.07.2008 - 60 injured after Moroccan-Sahrawi clashes in Dakhla
» 18.07.2008 - SA's and Namibians fish illegally in West Sahara

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Morocco | Western Sahara
Human rights | Politics

"Massacre" and purges ongoing in Western Sahara

Moroccan troops transporting corpses of Sahrawi protesters in El Aaiun

© afrol News
afrol News, 10 November
- At least 11 Sahrawis have been shot dead by Moroccan troops storming a camp of protesters. Sahrawi sources talk of 36 civilians being shot. Moroccan troops keep raiding Western Sahara cities, arresting young Sahrawi men.

Around 20,000 Sahrawis - the original inhabitants of the Moroccan-occupied territory Western Sahara - for weeks had camped outside the territory's main cities to protest the Moroccan occupation and systematic human rights abuses. Moroccan troops reacted by cutting off supplies of food and water to the tent cities.

Since Monday, however, Moroccan armed security forces have attacked the protesters, raiding the camps using real ammunition, tear-gas and high-pressure water cannons. Sahrawis resisting the destruction of their tent cities were shot at.

Hundreds of protesters reportedly have been arrested by the Moroccan army and riot police, many of which have been taken to Moroccan territory, according to Sahrawi sources. The same sources claim police are using torture interrogating the detained Sahrawis.

Many of the Sahrawi protesters fleeing the Moroccan attack on their camps however continued their riot in the towns of Western Sahara. Especially the capital, El Aaiun, since Tuesday has been embattled. Protesters are setting up road blocks, igniting fires and throwing stones on the police.

Moroccan troops and riot police have flocked to the occupied territory, answering the protests with gunfire. According to sources in El Aaiun, the death toll is steadily rising. They claim to have counted 28 dead bodies only around the tent site outside El Aaiun, among them a 7-year-old boy, with 8 more Sahrawis having been killed in the following riots in the city of El Aaiun.

Official Moroccan sources meanwhile claim that six members of national security forces have been killed by the rioters.

Sahrawis in El Aaiun meanwhile report to afrol News that Moroccan troops are going from house to house in the c

Riots in El Aaiun this week

© SPS/afrol News
ity, detaining every young Sahrawi men they can find. "The police and gendarmes are looking for young Sahrawis in general. Additionally, they have a list of activists they want to arrest," the source said. Human rights activists were among those arrested.

Another source in El Aaiun reports of large Moroccan troops concentrations in the Sahrawi capital. Helicopters were constantly in the air, assisting the military and police operation.

The exiled government of Western Sahara has urged the UN, which has a peacekeeping mission (MINURSO) stationed in the territory, to act against the violent repression of the Sahrawi riot. The Sahrawi government fears that Morocco will use the riot as a pretext to kill or detain a large numbers of Sahrawis opposing the Moroccan occupation.

The Sahrawis are calling on the UN Mission to at least monitor and register human rights violations during the riot. But MINURSO remains the only peacekeeping mission without a mandate to monitor human rights. Whilst the Sahrawis have repeatedly called for human rights monitoring, Morocco opposes this. Previous attempts to implement human rights monitoring within the UN Security Council were blocked by France.

Meanwhile, the "massacre" of Sahrawis by Moroccan troops has caused world-wide protests. Pro-Sahrawi groups are in the process of organising protest marches. Human rights groups demand an end to the Moroccan operation.

The current clashes in Western Sahara are the most violent since a ceasefire between Morocco and the Sahrawi government was agreed upon in 1991. The ceasefire was to lead to a referendum over Western Sahara's possible independence and the stationing of MINURSO to overseen the ceasefire and referendum.

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