In addition to a yellow vest movement against Algeria’s restrictive policies, a group of Sahrawis are condemning the disappearance of a leading member of the Polisario Front.
Rabat – After launching an online campaign to draw attention to the kidnapping of Polisario member Ahmed El Khalil, some Sahrawis took to the desert in Rabouni, where the Secretariat of the Polisario Front is located to condemn his disappearance.
Several Sahrawis chanted and carried banners to condemn his disappearance under suspicious circumstances.
Among the slogans protestors chanted were: “Where are human rights?” and “No alternative to determining the fate of Ahmed El Khalil.”
The protest is not the first of its kind. Several activists created a Facebook page to raise awareness about the fate of El Khalil, who was arrested and kidnapped under unknown circumstances in 2009.
El Khalil is considered a renowned scholar of the Tindouf camps, where he briefly served as a human rights official in 2009. A few months after his appointment to the post by Polisario, the separatist group arrested him.
Some Sahrawis believe that El Khalil died in prison. Former Polisario member Mustapha Salma Ould Mouloud said that Algerian intelligence forcibly imprisoned El Khalil for more than 10 years.
El Khalil joined the first group of young Sahrawis in southern Morocco who called for the liberation of the Sahara from Spanish colonizers after finishing his bachelor’s. He then decided to join Polisario in the Tindouf camps in Algeria in 1977.
Now, the family and friends of El Khalil are launching a campaign to call on Algeria and Polisario to announce the fate of the kidnapped activist.
In addition to protests for El Khalil, Rabouni saw a yellow vest movement from Sahrawis who denounced Algeria’s policy to restrict freedom of movement in the camps.
“We have been obliged to stay in Tindouf for one month,” one protester fumed. He complained that in most cases, people like him who were visiting from Europe only had two or three weeks of vacation time and needed to return to their jobs in Europe.