Rabat – The wali of Western Sahara has slammed the Democracy Now! television program for reporters’ comments on human rights in Western Sahara.
A former member of the Polisario Front, Wali Yahdih Bouchaab, lost his temper and asked American journalists working for Democracy Now! to rather focus on human rights violations in the US.
Democracy Now! posted an hour-long exclusive broadcast on Western Sahara on Youtube on August 31. Twenty minutes into the feature, the crew of journalists recorded video as they headed into the office of the wali in Laayoune. But on arrival, Bouchaab refused to give the interview, asking them to get authorization.
“If you have the authorization, I would be more than glad to provide this interview.”
However, the journalist interviewing the official started asking him questions on human rights in Western Sahara in front of a hidden camera.
“If I am retired, I can even come to your station in the US and to deliver that interview,” he said, emphasizing that he could not give information if the crew did not have authorization.
The footage is believed to be from 2016. However, the video was published just four days ago.
Speaking to the wali, the journalist started quoting from a 1995 Human Rights Watch (HRW) report on “Morocco’s efforts to block access to MINURSO.”
The report, according to the journalist, claimed that Morocco had refused to give answers as to why MINURSO’s staff and observers are “subjected to constant surveillance by Morocco.”
The wali commented with a smile: “very exciting.”
When the journalist said that what she quoted is from HRW, the governor asked, “Human Rights Watch, is that Bible? Is that Qur’an?”
Asked if he disagreed with the report, Bouchaab said, “I disagree completely.”
The report claimed that Moroccan authorities “harassment” of HRW prevented the organization of conducting “a thorough investigation of human rights” in the region.
Slamming the report, the governor said that the organization say “anything … to “make things exciting.”
The journalist continued to ask questions about alleged arrests and a crackdown after demonstrations in the region.
“If you are talking about peaceful demonstration, I am with … I appreciate to see people demonstrating and to give their—to provide their opinions.”
When the reporter said that people “got injured” during the demonstrations, the wali replied, “You will see who was hurt by those demonstrations. It’s not demonstrations. It’s completely—the anarchy” he said.
When asked about human rights in the region, the governor asked the journalist to focus on human rights violations in the US.
“Human rights—even in United States, you don’t have them. You have more than one million people living just in the underground in New York, and they are eating rats, and when they are sick they are eaten by the rats,” he said.
He also proposed that Democracy Now! should ‘work on it in Guantanamo and everywhere.”
King Mohammed VI appointed Bouchaab as the wali of Laayoune in 2014.