Monday, August 29, 2005

Another Sahara Crisis in Morocco

Another hunger strike in Moroccan prisons. A group of some 30 Sahraoui prisoners have gone on hunger strike. Their demands are humanitarian: They are demanding better jail conditions and to transfered to facilities closer to where their families live.

I found this on the subject, for those who might be interested.

Morocco urged to talk to W.Sahara hunger strikers

29 Aug 2005 19:06:59 GMT
Source: Reuters

By Souhail Karam

RABAT, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Morocco's leading independent human rights group AMDH called on the government on Monday to start talks to try to end a hunger strike by prisoners from the Western Sahara who demand better jail conditions.

The Moroccan Human Rights Association (AMDH) said 29 prisoners in three prisons, one of them in the disputed territory and two in northern Moroccan cities, had refused to eat for three weeks.

"The strike has started to seriously take its toll on their health. Their lives are at risk now," said Abdelilah Benabdeslam, a spokesman for the Moroccan Human Rights Association.

A justice ministry official said only 20 to 22 detainees were actually on hunger strike.

They want to be moved to jails that are closer to their relatives for visits and the lifting of Morocco's heavy security deployment in Western Sahara's capital Laayoune, said AMDH, which has visited some of the detainees.

A total of 37 residents were detained during and after anti-Moroccan riots in Western Sahara in May. Eight have not joined the hunger strike.

A dozen of the 37 have been handed jail terms of up to five years for offences including sabotage of public property and use of weapons against public officials. The rest are to be tried next month.

"The verdicts were the results of unfair trials and those awaiting to be tried have been held for much longer periods than what the law stipulates, in clear violation of their basic rights as defendants," Benabdeslam said.

Human rights groups say some of the detained have been tortured -- a charge denied by Moroccan authorities.

AMDH and two other rights groups urged authorities to hold talks with the detainees to try to end the hunger strike.

Authorities say the May riots were instigated by supporters of the Polisario Front, which seeks independence for the territory. Several people were hurt in clashes with police.

The Polisario Front, based in Algeria, urged the African Union this weekend to intervene and help secure the release of the 37 detainees, whom it called "political prisoners".


Anonymous barney g. said...

If you look at Washington Post, available on the 'Net, for today, Tuesday, August 30, 2005, and look at the LETTERS TO EDITOR on Page A16, you will find an interesting letter from your Ambassador to US about the prisoner release, citing Algerian demands that Moroc release the Algerian prisoners still held. He cites Intl. Red Cross report that Moroc released all in 1996. Please note and eliminate this comment, as it is not edited for publication. Just wanted to give you a 'heads up' about his letter.

Why not get one on the 'free' maklboxes from Yahoo. say, in an anonymous name, and use it to receive mail from blog readers?

Hope all is well with you.


7:33 AM, August 30, 2005  
Anonymous barney g. said...

About the prisoner strike --

It seems to me that if prisoners feel so strongly that they are being ill treated that they are willing to put their health and lives at risk, then their complaints should be listened to by an impartial party. The police and justice officials are not unbiassed; they arrested them amd proscecuted them. You just can't go to some HUMAN RIGHTS ngo and have them assess the prisonwer's comlaints; they are also biased in the other direction. You need to find as impartial a panel as possible and have them investigate the comlaints. Negotiate a truce with the prisoners whle the investigation is going on. Then have the independent panel openly publish their results. This will put pressure on the 'losing' side to correct either their actions or conditons. Such a straightforward thing to bring to a conclusion.

Do the prisoner's demands have to be reasonable? No. Any demands should be treated with respect. After all, any unbiased panel would rule against unreasonable demands. To assure that the demands are serious, the government might let the hunger strike go on long enough to show that prisoners are serious about their comlaints, but not so long that prisoners' health is damaged. The government is RESPONSIBLE for the welfare of prisoners.

I hope HM Mo VI follows some such procedure as outlined above. He can't risk losing world opinion now.


9:22 PM, September 02, 2005  

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