Letter to the participants of the 6th International Conference on Western Sahara held in Ljubljana on 20th October 2017

Dear Friends, Dear Comrades,

I regret to inform you that due to my other important engagements I cannot attend personally the 6th International Conference on Western Sahara to be held in Ljubjana/Slovenia on 20th October 2017 with the aim to examine the viewpoints of relevant actors and to explore the prospects for bringing the dispute over the status of the territory to an end. Hopefully, the participants of this conference will agree on a common strategy to support the Saharawi struggle for freedom.

The CEE Alliance has always admired the struggle for independence of the Saharawi people from colonisation and remains strongly committed to the process of peaceful negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations, for holding of a referendum on self-determination of Western Sahara in the search of a viable solution, which has been dragging for more than four decades.

It is worth remembering that Western Sahara is a decolonisation issue established by the United Nations in 1963 as a Non-Self-Governing Territory when Western Sahara was then a Spanish colony. This means that the Saharawi people should exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence and decide the status of their territory in a free, democratic and genuine way. Western Sahara is also well-known as the last colony in Africa.

There is no need to recall that the UN Office of Legal Affairs confirmed the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice in 1975, which ruled that Western Sahara is a decolonisation issue and that Morocco is not listed as an administrating power of the Territory on the list of the UN Non-Self-Governing Territories and, therefore, MOROCCO DOES NOT HAVE ANY SOVEREIGNTY over Western Sahara. Morocco is simply an OCCUPYING POWER, and consequently its continuous presence in Western Sahara is illegal.

The CEE Alliance denounces the silence of the EU in view of the violence exercised by the occupying Moroccan forces in the occupied territories of Western Sahara and demands the Kingdom of Morocco to allow access to the occupied territories to the media, the international observers as well as the European civil society.

The CEE Alliance urges the European Council to freeze the EU-Morocco Association agreement and to withdraw or cancel the Advanced Status of the Kingdom of Morocco, for failing to comply with its clause 2 referring to human rights.

The CEE Alliance denounces the illegal EU-Morocco Fisheries agreement approved on 10th December 2013 by the European Parliament which allows vessels from EU States to fish in the territorial waters of Western Sahara, a territory which Morocco military invaded in 1975 and continues illegally occupy in defiance of United Nations Resolutions.

In this regard it is worth mentioning that the Court of Justice of the European Union found last December that the Association and Liberalisation Agreements concluded between the EU and Morocco are not applicable to Western Sahara. By this decision the Court set aside the judgment of the General Court which had reached the opposite conclusion and decided to adjudicate itself on the action brought by the Front Polisario. In that regard, it noted that, since the Liberalisation Agreement does not apply to Western Sahara, the Front Polisario is not concerned by the decision of the Council to conclude that agreement. The Court therefore rejected the Front Polisario’s action on the ground of lack of standing.

The MINURSO, the UN mission for the self-determination referendum in Western Sahara, is currently the ONLY UN Mission that does not monitor human rights violations in the territory under its mandate. That is why the CEE Alliance demands the urgent establishment of a mechanism for monitoring and reporting on human rights within MINURSO’s mandate due to the significant increase of human rights violations in the Sahrawi occupied territories.

UN Ex-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and rights advocacy groups had long called for the UN mission in the North African territory to monitor and report on human rights abuses, but Morocco, backed by France, rejected the idea. Despite Ban Ki-moon`s reiterated appeals for sustained human rights monitoring in Western Sahara and his warnings against unfair exploitation of the region’s natural resources up to this day no progress happened. The prolongation of this occupation is first and foremost a blow to the credibility of the United Nations.

The new UN Secretary-General, Mr Guterres, with the support of the Security Council, is now seeking to relaunch the peace process, and, for that purpose, he has chosen President Köhler as his Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, who is ready to undertake his mission within the coming weeks.

The CEE Alliance learnt with indignation that on 19th July 2017, the well-known Saharawi Gdeim Izik Group” who were involved in setting-up the Gdeim Izik protest camp in Western Sahara in 2010, widely regarded as the first spark of the Arab spring, were sentenced by the Court of Appeal in Rabat to heavy and unjust sentences on the basis of confessions extracted under torture. The Court of Appeal was on the 26th of December 2016 to address the appeal of the case of these 24 human rights activists. One of the original 25 was sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia in 2013 and was not included in the new trial. Two of the accused were sentenced to time served, and the rest were given harsh sentences.

The CEE Alliance is reiterating its demand for the immediate liberation of the Saharawi political prisoners, including the leading activists of Gdeim Izik protest camp held in the prison of Salé since November 2010.

The CEE Alliance confirms again its commitment with the just fight of the POLISARIO FRONT for the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people, in our demand for the inmediate and unconditional liberation of all the Saharawi political prisoners. and ask for penal responsibilities to the Moroccan government by the criminal acts committed in the occupied territories.

The CEE Alliance would like to remind you that the use of force by the Moroccan forces, their crimes against humanity entailed international legal responsabilities. Morocco must be held to account for crimes of this sort and bear its legal and political consequences.

I wish to assure you that the CEE Alliance keeps continuing its solidarity activity with the Saharawi people in its long-overdue process of decolonisation.



Budapest, 15 October 2017.

Matyas Benyik

on behalf of CEE Alliance

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