Eight Moroccan police cars escorted four Norwegians out of the city of Smara, occupied Western Sahara. Police did not want them to meet local Saharawis.
The picture above can be downloaded in high resolution version by clicking on it. From left: Jor Hjulstad Tvedt, Mari Fjermedal, Eva Benedikte Skogli, Marthe Jæger Tangen.
Moroccan police did not seem to appreciate the arrival of four Norwegians to the town of Smara, east in occupied Western Sahara this afternoon.
"It was a truly unfair and unjust experience. You get angry. It is obvious that the police did not wish us to meet the Saharawis that we came to see", Ms. Marthe Jæger Tangen told. Tangen represents the organisation Changemaker, the youth section of Norwegian Church Aid.
"It was sad to meet the activists who wanted to take us to their homes. One of the Saharawis came up to us and told that what we now experienced is the 'every day face of the Moroccan occupation'", she told.
Few minutes later, the group headed straight out of the territory.
We were escorted out by eight civil police cars with shaded windows", Mr. Jor Hjulstad Tvedt told, of the Red Youth of Norway. The group is now driving in direction of Tan Tan, South Morocco, where they are expected to arrive around 6PM CET today, 21 January.
In addition to Tangen og Tvedt the group consisted of an additional two youth politicians from Red Youth. They arrived Smara at 2PM today, in a rental car from South Morocco. They were approached by the police and got their passports confiscated few minutes after arrival to Smara.
200 kilometers further west in the territory, in the capitol city El Aaiun, another Norwegian group were expelled at 1230 today by Moroccan police Just like the case in El Aaiun earlier today, this second group was not told why they were not welcome to the city.
"You are welcome to any city you want, just not this one", police told, explaining they they could not visit Smara. They were also not allowed to use the road out of Smara, going in an western direction towards El Aaiun. The only road they were allowed to drive on, is the one heading direction Tan Tan, Morocco.
Ms. Mari Fjermedal: "Okey, we will leave. But can we go from here to El Aaiun?"
In charge of the police: "Okey, go to Tan Tan, and after that you can continue to El Aaiún, Dakhla, your choice..." "Today, we really got insight to how difficult it is for Saharawi activists to get contact with the rest of the world, and how hard their struggle must be. We got a hint of a feeling as to the suppression that they experience every day", Tangen told Changemaker.
None of the police officers wished to identify themselves with name. One of them showed a badge, but did not to explain his name.
The four wished to have conversations regarding the referendum in Western Sahara and about the two companies Sea Tank Chartering and Gezina which these days are violating the advice from the Norwegian government to not take part in business activities in Western Sahara, through a shipment of fish oil that they are undertaking to France, in the Key Bay vessel.
The four kicked out of Smara are:
-Marthe Jæger Tangen, Changemaker, 22 years, student in Oslo.
-Jor Hjulstad Tvedt, 22 years, student in Oslo and of the executive board of Red Youth.
-Mari Fjermedal, 22 years, farmer, from Iveland, Norway, and member of Red Youth.
-Eva Benedikte Skogli, 20 years, from Grimstad, Norway, student in Oslo.
As a consequence of the increased global food prices, a nutrition crisis is already developing among Saharawi children in Algeria.
A group of Saharawi political prisoners today filed a legal complaint against Morocco in to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
The Saharawi student activist Mohammed Layichi has been on hunger strike for almost a month.
A group of friends for Western Sahara consisting of representatives from all nine political parties was established today in the Norwegian parliament