Student Parliament of Bergen expelled upon landing in Western Sahara
Leader and international responsible of the Student Parliament of Bergen, Håkon Randgaard Mikalsen and Eirik Lie Reikerås were thrown out of occupied Western Sahara this evening, after landing with a flight from Casablanca.
Above (from the left) Håkon Randgaard Mikalsen and Eirik Reikerås. Click for high resolution. Free use.
Tuesday evening, Håkon Randgaard Mikalsen and Eirik Lie Reikerås landed at El Aaiun airport in Western Sahara, and were immediately detained. They were not allowed to remain in the territory, and were obliged to delete video clips from their phones. Now, they are deported in a car.
"They did not trust our intentions", Mikalsen told. "They had received visits from Norwegians earlier this week. But we did not receive any further information. They did not tell what they believed our intentions were."
They had flown from Casablanca in northern Morocco after having participated as observers in a trial against Saharawi political prisoners. The purpose of the trip to El Aaiun was to meet local students and human rights defenders and to learn about the situation they live and work under in the occupied territory.
«We had hoped to meet representatives of our friendship association in Western Sahara, but it seems the Moroccan police wanted it otherwise", president of
Vi håpet å møte representanter for vår vennskapsorganisasjon i Vest-Sahara, men det ville ikke det marokkanske politiet ha noe av» sier Mr. Mikalsen told.
Despite the Norwegian students had nothing wrong, they had been followed by what they believe are police officers since their arrival to Morocco.
“We have noticed several civilian dressed men having followed us for hours, non-stop, both in car and by foot" Mikalsen said.
After 40 years of Moroccan occupation, Morocco has still not built any universities in Western Sahara. Saharawis must therefore study in Morocco, under Moroccan curricula, only to return to Western Sahara. There, they see employment are given to settlers.
«The fact that Morocco risks international media exposure for having deported foreign students, journalists and politicians, rather than allowing us to speak to Saharawi students and youth, tells quite a bit about how the situation under which these people live and work», Mikalsen told over a phone from the airport in Western Sahara.
Since 1975, three quarters of the territory of Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco. A majority of the population is still living in refugee camps in Algeria. Those who remained in their homeland are subjected to serious harassment from the Moroccan occupiers. For more than 40 years the Sahrawis have been waiting for the fullfilment of their legitimate right to self-determination.
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