By Samir Bennis
By Samir Bennis
Morocco World News
New York, October 11, 2012
The true nature of the Polisario and its acolytes was exposed on Wednesday evening in New York on the sidelines of the annual session of the United Nations Fourth Committee. During a conference organized by Morocco World News, to shed light on how the Polisario and its propaganda machine misrepresents human rights abuses in order to harm Morocco’s image at the international level and garner sympathy from the world’s public opinion, two experts on the Sahara issue, a Belgian lawyer and a Spanish journalist and expert on the Sahara, shared with the audience their analysis and vision of the conflict.
Mr. Pierre Legros, a seasoned lawyer, addressed the way in which the Polisario and some Spanish collude in order to exploit any incident that might break out in the Sahara and portray Morocco as a country that oppresses the Saharawi population and violates their fundamental rights. In this regard, he referred to the case of manipulation in which the Polisario was involved along with Spanish TV Channel Antena 3, following the events of the Laayoune protests in November 2010.
After the Moroccan authorities proceeded to dismantle a camp in Laayoune, Antena 3 released a photograph obtained through the “Polisario”, showing the bodies of four people brutally killed in an entirely separate incident in Casablanca that were presented as those of a Sahrawi family killed by Moroccan police in the Laayoune clashes on 8 November 2010.
Yet even after it was revealed that that picture was false and that it was taken by the Moroccan police forces after a mentally ill person brutally murdered four members of his family in their apartment, Antena 3 went on broadcasting it repeatedly to illustrate the alleged violence of Moroccan police against Sahrawis.
While expressing his disbelief that a TV channel of the size of Antena 3 could ignore all the evidence that proved the photo was not from Laayoune, he concluded that the unprofessionalism in which the channel dealt with the case of the picture shows that the main goal of that channel was not to inform people about what was unfolding in Laayoune, but rather to distort the fact in whatever manner possible to serve the Polisario agenda.
“I have no tangible proof to determine who transmitted these picture to Antena 3, but after seeing that the other Spanish media who also published it presented their apologies, I came to the conclusion that these pictures were sent by the Polisario and that there is collusion between this movement and the management of the channel aimed at harming Morocco’s reputation,” said Mr. Legros, lawyer of the Rachidi family whose murdered family members’ picture was exploited by Antena 3 and the Polisario.
Mr. Legros, who is also the former president of the Bar of Brussels, explained that Antena 3 was found guilty by a Brussels court and condemned to pay 300,000 euros in damages to the Rachidi family “for having released repeatedly this photo taken out of context in order to manipulate public opinion.”
For his part Jose M. Gil, a Spanish journalist and expert on the Sahara issue, explained that the hostility towards Morocco regarding the Sahara issue is ingrained in Spanish media, who tend to turn a blind eye to Polisario abuses against the Saharwi population in the Tindouf camps, and its embezzlement of humanitarian assistance, while reporting about any aspect of the conflict that can be perceived as advancing the Polisario’s cause.
“It comes as no surprise to see Antena 3 manipulate the facts of Laayoune and report fallaciously about them, since it’s goal is primarily to sully the image of Morocco and denounce the ‘authoritarian way’ in which the Moroccan government deals with the Saharawis,” said Jose M. Gil.
He went on to say that if the Polisario still enjoys the sympathy of some sectors of Spanish public opinion, the movement is becoming increasingly worried by the deterioration of relations between the Spanish government and the Polisario leadership, as well as the strategic shift of the Spanish government led by Mariano Rajoy and it is support for the Moroccan stance over the Sahara.
“For the first time in Spanish history, Spanish soldiers were deployed into the Tindouf camps in order to evacuate the Spanish humanitarian workers who worked in the camps,” underscored the Spanish expert on terrorism in the Sahel and North Africa.
“The Spanish government still maintains his warning to Spanish humanitarian workers and urges them to refrain from going to the camps, after the kidnapping of two Spaniards in Tindouf in October 2011,” he added.
What is more worrisome for the Polisario leadership, added the Spanish expert, is that the Spanish government did not only stop any kind of institutional funding to the separatist movement, it has also shown increasing support to the autonomy plan presented by Morocco in 2007, as a viable solution to the conflict.
“The Spanish government is for the first time referring to the Sahara as the southern provinces of Morocco, which is exactly the same terminology used by Moroccan officials when referring to this territory,” Gil said.