A group of Nordic students were last night ordered to leave occupied Western Sahara by Moroccan police.
Published 30 January 2011
A group of 3 Nordic students, and their teacher, was last night ordered by Moroccan police to leave Western Sahara.
The group consists of a Finnish, a Swedish and a Norwegian citizen, in addition to their Swedish teacher.
The group is currently in their hotel in Western Sahara's capital El Aaiun, and has been ordered to take a bus to Agadir, Morocco, later today.
The delegation, who are studying at the Jakobsberg Folk High School in Sweden, last night met with Sahrawi human rights activists in the occupied territories. They arrived El Aaiun in Friday, with the purpose to learn about the human rights violations, and whether the Sahrawi people wish a renewal of the EU fisheries agreement in Western Sahara.
The group managed to meet some 60-70 saharawis until the police had had enough.
Around midnight, five plain clothed police officers came to their hotel in El Aaiun, and explained that they are not longer welcome in the territory.
"THey explained that we, as foreigners, are not allowed to speak with the local population. The more we asked about why that is not allowed, the angrier the police got", explained Line Røssevold, one of the members of the group.
She explains that Moroccan plain clothed police had followed them all the way from they left Morocco.
"They were sitting next to us on the bus into Western Sahara, and they have been living next doors in the hotel since we checked in. The police has followed us every single hour since we arrived the territory", she told.
This is not the first time that foreign visitors are told not to meet Sahrawis. A similar explanation was given to 2 Norwegian tourists earlier this year. Several dozens of groups of parliamentarians, journalists and tourists have been expelled from Western Sahara and Morocco over the last months. Morocco has illegally occupied Western Sahara since 1975.
The group studies journalism, international relations, refugee policy and human rights at Jakobsberg, close to Stockholm.
The Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara can put you in contact with the group for comments. If you wish to make a telephone interview with them, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
For bigger version of the photo above, please click the image. Better images will hopefully be is_is_published on www.vest-sahara.no during the day of today.