- Moroccan authorities today denied a delegation of four EU parliamentarians (MEPs) entry to the country. The MEPs were travelling to El Aiun, the administrative capital of the Moroccan-occupied territory Western Sahara, to study the human rights situation.
The delegation of four European parliamentarians, heading towards the occupied city, among other things had arranged a meeting with the UN peacekeeping mission MINURSO, set to oversee the Moroccan-Saharawi ceasefire since 1991, and to make a report about the human rights situation in El Aiun (written "Laayoune" in Morocco).
Three of the delegates flew from Paris to the Moroccan city Casablanca, while the Spanish MEP Willy Meyer caught a flight from Madrid to Casablanca. Mr Meyer told the Spanish newspaper 'El País' that, as he landed on Moroccan soil, he immediately was targeted by Moroccan security forces. Police officers told him they had orders from the government in Rabat, not to allow him entry to the country. The same later happened to the three MEPs arriving Casablanca from Paris.
According to the Moroccan Ambassador to the European Union (EU), the visit of the four parliamentarians in any case simply had the intention of provoking conflict. In a letter, the Ambassador writes that the four MEPs were "supported by Algeria," Morocco's neighbour housing the exiled government of Western Sahara.
The failed visit to El Aiun was planned on the background that a Moroccan court in the city two weeks ago sentenced eight Saharawi activists to lifetime prison after they had participated in protest actions against the occupation in 2010. Four further protesters were sentenced to 30 years in prison, while ten other activists were sent to prison for between 20 and 25 years.
The Saharawis had been charged with the killing of 11 Moroccan security forces during the large-scale demonstrations in November 2010 in the outskirts of El Aiun. During the same operation, an additional 70 officers of Moroccan police and army allegedly were injured, and two Saharawi civilians were killed.
According to EU parliamentarian Mr Meyer, the Moroccan government is displaying very little transparency during the big legal process following the mass protests outside El Aiun, and even showing tendencies of increased secrecy. Mr Meyer was an observer to the court proceedings against the Saharawi activists in February.
Now, the four members of the EU parliament are planning to file a formal complaint to the diplomatic chief of the EU, Catherine Ashton. Ms Ashton had been informed of the planned trip last week. Also in Spain, Mr Meyer expects the Madrid government to file a complaint with the Rabat government over the poor treatment of the MEP delegation.
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