"Thank you, Norway!"
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Last week, Rafto Award Winner Sidi Mohammed Daddach met with Norwegian Minister for International Development, Erik Solheim. Daddach thanked him for the Norwegian solidarity with his people, and begged for further assistance to protect civilian Sahrawis against the Moroccan oppression in the occupied Western Sahara.

Published 19 February 2007

The human rights activist Sidi Mohammed Daddach last week paid a visit to Norway. The visit ended today. Back in 2002 Mr Daddach was awarded the Bergen-based Rafto Prize 2002 for his efforts to promote human rights in Western Sahara, a territory occupied by Morocco. His ordeal includes 24 years in Moroccan prisons. Last week, he appealed to Norwegian authorities for more efforts in support of his struggles.

"The frustration in the occupied areas is steadily increasing", Mr Daddach told Mr. Solheim.

The Moroccan occupation and their oppressive activities leads to increased frustration, made evident by numerous Sahrawi demonstrations against the occupiers. Mr Daddach fears that these demonstrations may turn into public violence, and appeals to Mr Solheim for Norwegian assistance. In particular, Mr Daddach advocated very strongly that the international community should monitor the human rights violations in Western Sahara, for instance by extending the mandate for the UN force that is already stationed in the country.

Challenges Norway to apply pressure on Morocco
In addition, Mr Daddach requested that Norway look for new measures to apply political pressure on Morocco.

"If Morocco does not sense a strong international pressure, they will continue to sabotage the peace plans that they in fact have approved, and signed. I challenge Norway to recognize the Western Sahara republic, in line with many other countries", Mr Daddach told Mr Solheim.

He took the opportunity to thank the Norwegian Foreign Office, and other non-governmental organisations for their solidarity with the Sahrawi people.

Mr Daddach also requested that Norway increase their aid to the refuge camps in Algeria. He himself visited the camps in November 2006, and told that he was alarmed to find that his relatives were in a bad state healthwise.

Public meeting in Oslo
Last Thursday, a public meeting was held on the subject of the human rights situation in Western Sahara, and the difficult situation for the civilian population. The meeting also focussed on associated topics like the deadlocked peace process, the Sahrawi refugees, and Norwegian companies and their activities in Western Sahara 

The meeting was organised by The Support Committee for Western Sahara, the Norwegian Refugee Council, the Human Rights Foundation.

During his week long stay in Norway, Mr Daddach also met with a number of representatives from the Norwegian Foreign Office and Norwegian Refugee Council, and held an open seminar in Red Cross United World Colleges, Fjaler.


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