Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Protests erupt in Laayoune ahead of Morocco Green March anniversary: One person dies

Moroccan police were deployed in force on Monday in Laayoune, after several days of unrest in the run-up to the 30th anniversary of Morocco's annexation of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony.

"A large number of police" arrived early on Monday, said Hamoudi Igulid, a local representative of the Moroccan association of human rights (AMDH).

"The situation is calm as it is Ramadan," he said.

Over the past week, skirmishes have taken place almost daily between stone-throwing teenagers and police wielding clubs to disperse the anti-Morocco protesters, and one person has died, Igulid and local residents said.

The outbreak of violent protests comes several days before the 30th anniversary of the Green March, launched by Moroccan King Hassan II on November 6, 1975. On that date, about 350 000 Moroccans marched to the border with Western Sahara in a show of support for Morocco's claim to the territory.

On Saturday, a young Sahraoui man, Hamdi Lambarki, died of head injuries after probably being hit with a stone thrown by the demonstrators, according to police.

Witnesses, however, gave the victim's family a different account, claiming Lambarki was knocked down by a police car and then hit on the head by the authorities.

Lambarki was taken to hospital in a coma where he died early Sunday, a police source said, adding that the prosecutor had opened an inquiry into his death.

Lambarki's death sparked a new round of anti-Moroccan protests late on Sunday, Igulid said.

Police arrested a number of young people while the president of the Saharan association of human rights, Brahim Dahane, has been missing since Saturday, he added.

Dahane "was arrested by the police near his home, and since then we have had no further news" about him, Igulid said.

The Moroccan communications minister, Nabil Benabdellah, on Monday denied that Dahane has disappeared, insisting that the state "acts in strict accordance with the law."

He did confirm that arrests were made among the protesters, notably among a "a small group pushing separatist ideas and using violence".


Blogger hale said...

In your post, you say: "... on November 6, 1975. On that date, about 350 000 Moroccans marched to the border with Western Sahara in a show of support for Morocco's claim to the territory."

I have heard about the Green March but know nothing about it. I assume it was 'organized' by the Moroccan government. What you wrote was just what I have read, but I would like to know -
- after the marchers got to the border, what did they do? Cross the border? Turn and go back home?
- how long dod they stay at or near the border. It must have required a massive feeding program and possibly tents for sleeping .. for 1/3 million people.
- what was the outcome of the March?

Any info or references you can give will be greatly appreciated.


5:58 AM, November 04, 2005  

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