The Sahrawi population in Tindouf camps, Algeria, have risen together against the Algerian government to protest the disappearance of a Sahrawi intellectual, Ahmed El Khalil, since his 2009 abduction by intelligence services.
Rabat – Carrying banners, flags of the self-styled Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) and chanting slogans, Sahrawi people rallied yesterday near Rabouni Camp, in an unprecedented demonstration against Algeria.
The protesters are calling on the United Nations to intervene in the case of Ahmed El Khalil to uncover the truth behind his kidnapping and disappearance.
Former Polisario member Mustafa Salma Ould Mouloud, El Khalil’s colleague, shared videos and pictures of the peaceful demonstration on his Facebook account, writing: “Strikingly and for the first time, the [Sahrawi] camp population leads a protest against Algeria and not against the Polisario Front.”
Mustafa Salma wrote that Algeria was to blame for the suffering of Sahrawis. “Algeria is the one responsible for the suffering of the [Sahrawi] people camps. It is the one that breaches their human rights, not the Polisario who have no power whatsoever.”
Mustafa Salma also pointed out that El Khalil’s case is “taking a serious turn, which will put Algeria and the Polisario Front in a delicate situation during the upcoming roundtable.” In March, the parties involved in the Western Sahara conflict will meet in Geneva under the auspices of the UN.
Salma announced that the Sahrawis recently founded a committee seeking to follow El Khalil’s case at the request of his family. The committee seeks to reveal the circumstances of El Khalil’s disappearance and bring him justice.
The protest followed another peaceful demonstration in front of the Secretariat of the Polisario Front in Rabouni, Algeria.
El Khalil’s family had already reached out to the UN in 2017, to pressure Algeria and the Polisario to reveal El Khalil’s fate.
While it is not known yet whether El Khalil is dead or alive, Mustafa Salma had announced he died in prison last month. Mustafa Salma said that the Algerian intelligence forcibly imprisoned El Khalil for more than 10 years.
Born in Tan-Tan in southern Morocco, El Khalil moved to Fez to finish his high school studies, and he decided to join the Polisario in 1977. El Khalil was tasked by Polisario with monitoring human rights in the Tindouf camps before his disappearance. According to Mustafa Salma, El Khalil was one of the most renowned intellectuals in the camps.