dimecres, 24 de març de 2010

Protest for Release of the Sahrawi Six, 12 noon, Thursday, March 25, 2010 in Washington

Protest for Release of the Sahrawi Six 12:00 noon, Thursday, March 25, 2010 Moroccan Embassy, 1601 21st Street, N.W., Washington DC 20009
Human Rights Groups Call for Release of "Sahrawi Six"


(Washington, D.C.) The U.S. Western Sahara Foundation, the Human Rights Action Center, and the Institute for Policy Studies are staging a protest at12:00 noon on Thursday, March 25 at the Moroccan Embassy to call for theKing of Morocco to release the Sahrawi Six, a group of human rights defenders currently facing a Moroccan military court because they visited theirfamily members in the Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria. Because the six Sahrawis currently reside in Moroccan-Occupied Western Sahara, they could receive the death penalty for visiting their loved ones, even though the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has worked to facilitate just thesekinds of visits.

The peaceful demonstration will be held to call for the release of the sixas well as the thousands of other Sahrawis imprisoned and who havedisappeared in Morocco, all because they supported the right to vote ontheirself-determination.

"Knowing of the torture and abuse by the Moroccan authorities in these prisons, we cannot imagine what these six have had to endure since they were arrested over six months ago," said Suzanne Scholte, Chairman of the US Western Sahara Foundation. "We are taking this action because appeals to the Moroccan authorities for the release of the Sahrawi 6 have been in vain, sowe hope this event will raise awareness and lead to their release."

Jack Healey, former Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, and founder of the Human Rights Action Center stated: "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees everyone the right to travel.Morocco needsto re-assess its policy and release the six Sahrawi human rights defenders.A restitution package for personal harm inflicted upon them by this mistaken policy is essential to healing wounds and showing remorse."

The six Sahrawi human rights defenders have been held in a Moroccan prisonsince they were arrested in Casablanca on October 8, 2009. Ironically, they were returning from the Sahrawi refugee camps, an area Morocco falsely claims is inaccessible to visitors, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has worked fordecades to facilitate these kinds of visits between family members livingin occupied Western Sahara and those living in the refugee camps in Algeria, who have been separated since Morocco invaded Western Sahara in1975.Furthermore, a recent group of Sahrawis living in occupied Western Sahara just returned from a visit to the camps. It is believed that these 6 are being detained and threatened because they are known for their peacefuleffortsto raise the unlawful and inhumane treatment of Sahrawi citizens inoccupied Western Sahara to advocate for their right to vote.
Those arrested include:

1) Brahim Dahane, President of the Saharawi Association of Victims of Serious Violations Committed by Morocco (ASVDH);2)
Ali Salem Tamek , First Vice President of the Collective of Saharawi Human Rights Defenders (CODESA) and member of the Moroccan Association forHuman Rights (AMDH);3)
Ahmad Anasiri: General Secretary of the Saharawi Committee for theDefense of Human Rights in Smara and President of AMDH Smara Chapter;4)
Yahdih Ettarrouzi, Member of AMDH Laayounne Chapter;5)
Saleh Lebayhi: President of the Forum for Protection of Sahrawi Children and member of the Laayoune Chapter of CODESA and AMDH; and6)
Rachid Sghayar, Member of Committee Action against Torture

The violence against the Sahrawis in occupied Western Sahara has been documented and reported by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch,Freedom House, the World Organization Against Torture, Reporters without Borders,and the U.S. State Department.
The State Department's most recent report can be found at_http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136076.htm_(http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/nea/136076.htm)
The groups involved with the demonstration are also urging the United Nations to add human rights monitoring to the MINURSO mandate, MINURSO istheonly peacekeeping mission without a human rights mandate.

For further information, contact Henry Song at 202-596-6547 or SuzanneScholte at 703-534-4313.

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