After nearly six months of incarceration without trial, the Polisario has finally released the three activists after a “court” found them innocent of treason.
Rabat – The Polisario Front has faced increasing pressure to free three Sahrawi activists, held in detentions without trial since their arrest in June.
On November 10, the “authorities” of the separatist front finally released Moulay Aba Bouzid, Fadel Braika, and Mahmoud Zidane following a trial.
A “court” in the Tindouf camps, Algeria where the three activists faced charges of treason, crimes that can lead to severe punishment including the death penalty. The “court”, however, found Braika, Aba Bouzid, and Zidane innocent of all charges. .
The activists’ release comes after months of sit-ins and protests condemning then oppression and arbitrary arrest of the activists for peaceful protests against human rights violations, and the lack of freedom of movement and expression.
The move to release the activists also comes after the Polisario authorities in the Edhaibia prison released private images of Braika’s wife to the press, prompting an angry backlash from Sahrawis in the camps.
Earlier this month, pro-Polisario news outlet Sawt al Watan (Voice of the Nation) published the leaked photos, showing Braika’s wife in her bedroom.
“Security services” took the images from Braika’s mobile phone, after confiscating the phone during his arrest in June.
The move angered the Tindouf population, who strongly criticized the Polisario leadership, with several Sahrawis taking to the Tindouf desert to denounce the move.
Former Polisario member Mustafa Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud condemned the “heinous act,” calling on the Polisario Front to hold the people involved in the act responsible in order to preserve the “honor and privacy of the [Braika’s] entire family and tribe.”
The case of the three activists did not make waves in the international community with few press outlets reporting on the illegal arrest, however, Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned the arrest of the detainees in August.
The Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, also briefly discussed the arrest of activists at his UN report on the situation on Western Sahara in October.
Paragraph 71 of the report indicates that the UN bodies were informed by the OHCHR on “the harassment, arrest, arbitrary detention and ill-treatment by Frente POLISARIO security forces of a human rights defender and a blogger engaged in documenting human rights violations in the region.”