Asks the Norwegian government to intervene
Article image
Leading human rights activists from Western Sahara were last week subjected to serious violations of their rights by Moroccan authorities. 18 Norwegian organisations, including all 8 political youth parties, ask the Norwegian Minister for Foreign Affairs to protest.
Published 19 October 2009

Photo above (taken by Maria Fonfara) of Ahmed Nasiri fra Smara, one of the arrested.

Press release
15 October 2009.

Last week, a number of human rights activists from occupied Western Sahara were subjected to severe violations of their freedom of movement.

Former Rafto Award laureate Sidi Mohammed Daddach was one of the 5 who were detained by Moroccan police as a group of Sahrawis on 6 October tried to travel to the refugee camps in Algeria. The student activist Sultana Khaya, who in 2007 was beaten blind on one eye during police violence, was 9 October refused exit from Western Sahara, while her papers and passport were confiscated.

7 leading human rights activists were on 8 October detained at Casablanca airport after having visited their countrymen in the refugee camps in Algeria. They are now being charged with treason.

Most of the 13 activists have during the last year had meetings with Norwegian organisations visiting the region.

"It is unacceptable that Sahrawi human rights activists are not allowed to travel abroad to talk about the violations in the territory, or to visit their countrymen in the refugee camps," wrote the leaders of the organisations in a joint letter to the Norwegian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jonas Gahr Støre.

"We expect the [Norwegian] government to demand that the detained Sahrawi human rights activists be immediately released, and to demand from the Moroccan authorities that passports and other confiscated property be immediately returned to the Sahrawis who have tried to leave Western Sahara," wrote the organisations.

The letter was signed by all 8 Norwegian political youth organisations (Norwegian Labour Youth, Young Liberals of Norway, Red Youth Norway, Norwegian Center Youth, Progress Party Youth, Norwegian Young Conservatives, Socialist Youth, Christian Democrat Youth), as well as by the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara, The Rafto Foundation, Norwegian Refugee Council, Norwegian Students' and Academics' International Assistance Fund, Human Rights House Foundation, The National Union of Students in Norway, Counteract TV, Trade Union for Industry and Energy, Changemaker, Norwegian Language Youth.

See the letter to the Norwegian government here (in Norwegian).

Contact persons:

Ronny Hansen
Chairman, Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara.
Tel (+47) 94250270

Sigrun Espe
President, Norwegian Students' and Academics' International Assistance Fund
Tel (+47) 99044666

UN human rights expert decries “clampdown” on human rights defenders

Morocco must stop targeting human rights defenders and journalists standing up for human rights in Western Sahara, and allow them to work without reprisals, UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, said today.

01 July 2021

Sultana's home raided by police, activists arrested

In an early morning raid today, masked agents terrorized and assaulted the home of the Saharawi human rights defender Sultana Khaya, stole belongings and took three activists to an undisclosed location.

10 May 2021

UN experts urge Morocco to release imprisoned Sahrawi journalist

On 7 June 2019, videos began to circulate showing Moroccan police brutally beating up a Saharawi journalist in occupied Western Sahara. Today, a UN opinion calling for his release from prison was made public. 

07 February 2021

Sultana has spent two months in house arrest

The Saharawi activist Sultana Khaya and her family has for almost 10 weeks been harrassed by Moroccan police when leaving or entering their home in occupied Western Sahara. Help us to denounce. 

26 January 2021