Press Release from the Students' Peace Prize, Norway, 3 February 2009.
Elkouria Amidane is awarded the Peace Prize for her work for human rights, students' rights and peace in Western Sahara.
Amidane is contributing to inform the world about the discrimination and the violence that the Sahrawis are exposed to by the Moroccan government. Even though Amidane uses peaceful means in her fight for human rights, she has been exposed to torture and arrested by the Moroccan police several times.
Documenting violation of human rights
An important part of Amidane's work is to document the situation in Western Sahara by taking photos and writing reports for the Sahrawi human rights organization CODESA. Amidane publishes a lot of the material on the Internet, such as videos of students being attacked by the police. Publishing the videos has led to anonymous threats towards the Peace Prize laureate.
Amidane travels abroad to tell the rest of the world about the conditions of the Sahrawis in Western Sahara. When she visited Norway in 2007, Amidane met the Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, and she asked the Norwegian state to support Western Sahara's demands for independence. By meeting political leaders and people with a lot of resources, Amidane could make the world recognize the conflict in Western Sahara. In cooperation with Norwegian youth's political parties and the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara, Amidane has been able to make the present conflict in Western Sahara relevant in Norway.
A Contribution to Peace
“By giving the Student Peace Prize to Elkouria Amidane the conflict is becoming more visible, which is an important contribution to peace in Western Sahara,” claims the member of the Student Peace Prize Committee and former leader of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Ole Danbolt Mjøs. The conflict in Western Sahara has been going on for more than 30 years, but only a few people know about the violation of human rights committed by the Moroccan government. A referendum about Western Sahara's right of autonomy should have been carried through a long time ago, but nothing has happened yet. "The Student Peace Prize can contribute to carry through the referendum, and to a just peace in Western Sahara," continues Mjøs.
The fight for students' rights and human rights in general is an important part of the fight for peace. That is why it is important to give the Student Peace Prize to an human rights activist like Amidane. "There will be no just peace without respect for the human rights", claims Mjøs. Students are important resources in the fight for a better society and a just world. "With her peaceful methods Elkouria is doing a wonderful job for Western Sahara. The Student Peace Prize is going to be an encouragement for Amidane and her future work with human rights and the struggle for a peaceful solution in Western Sahara," finishes Mjøs.
Siri Mette Fridén
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