Press Statement on the deteriorating Human Rights Situation in the Western Sahara Occupied Territories

TSHWANE – The Government of the Republic of South Africa has noted with concern the alarming reports of human rights violations in Western Sahara. The main one being the 8 October 2009’s arrest and placing before a military tribunal of seven Saharawi activists for making contact with Saharawis living in the Western Sahara Refugee Camps in Tindouf, Algeria. We similarly condemn the forced deportation by Morocco of the Saharawi human rights activist, Ms Aminatou Haidar to the Spanish Canary Islands for merely writing Western Sahara as her country of residency on an entry form at the Laayoune Airport in Western Sahara.

For South Africa the struggle for the people of Western Sahara is a struggle for self-determination and is based on the principles of decolonisation, promotion of human rights, international legality and the stability and security of the African continent.

We therefore find unfortunate the statement issued by His Majesty, the King of Morocco, Mohamed VI on the occasion of the 34th Anniversary of the Green March. For His Majesty to mention that the Saharawis must choose between “being Moroccan or not, patriot or traitor” goes against the principles of self-determination and decolonisation as set out in previous United Nations Resolutions on Western Sahara.

These negative developments reverse the significant gains that have been obtained by the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary General to Western Sahara, Ambassador Christopher Ross who has been patiently trying to establish confidence between the negotiation parties in his small preparatory talks. The aim of these small talks is to establish a climate of cooperation and mutual respect amongst the parties in pursuit of a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.

We remain firm in the conviction that the human rights violations in Western Sahara stem from the non-realisation of the right to self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.The international community and South Africa cannot afford to be silent when fundamental international law principles are violated.

For further information, contact Chief Director for Public Diplomacy, Saul Kgomotso Molobi on + 27 82 940 1647.

Department of International Relations Cooperation
Private Bag x152

04 December 2009



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