Polisario continues to register reputation-damaging blows as several critical reports point to torture, arbitrary arrests, and embezzlement of humanitarian aid to Tindouf.
Rabat – Dozens of human rights activists and supporters of Morocco’s Autonomy Plan took to the street in Northern Spain on Saturday, November 24, to call Polisario out for “war crimes” and human rights violations in the Tindouf camps, Algeria.
Organized in Vitoria-Gasteiz, the capital of the Basque autonomous region in Northern Spain, the sit-in coincided with the visit to the Spanish region of a delegation of elected Sahrawi officials and civil society representatives from Moroccan Sahara.
According to a Maghreb Arab Press report, the Sahrawi delegation’s visit to the Spanish region came within the broader context of bringing Polisario’s human rights breaches, including torture and violent crackdowns on dissidence, to the attention of the international community.
Ait Oukdim Mustapha, the president of the Association of Moroccan Residents in the Basque Country, said that the mini-protest was part of efforts to not only condemn Polisario-sponsored violence and human rights abuses against dissident Sahrawis, but also to support Morocco’s autonomy proposal.
The role of such an event outside of Morocco, he argued, is to confront the international community with the daily struggles and “inhumane” living conditions in the Polisario-run camps. Life in the camps is especially “unbearable” for dissidents, he stressed.
Present at the event were many victims—directly or through relatives—of the militant group’s abuses.
“We are here to give voice to the Polisario victims and raise awareness in the international community, especially here in the Basque region, about Polisario’s abuses and crimes,” said Dahi Aguai, who is said to have survived torture in Polisario prisons and is now a vehement critic of the movement.
As the president of an association for relatives of the “missing” or “disappeared” of Polisario’s “terror,” Aguai said it is necessary that the world know about the dark side that Polisario conceals as it successfully portrays itself as a victim and legitimate representative of the “Sahrawi cause.”
These Polisario-damning messages come as the group continues to register reputation-damaging blows.
Several critical reports and condemnatory calls have piled up in recent months, demanding“justice” and “accountability” for the militant group’s reported abuses and human rights breaches. Most recent reports have pointed out torture, arbitrary arrests and embezzling of humanitarian aid to distressed residents in the Tindouf camps.
The Vitoria-Gasteiz sit-in also comes as many voices urge for more action against reported war crimes and related exactions committed by the Polisario leadership.
Meanwhile, other critical voices have complained about “war crimes” committed by the Polisario leadership at the height of the Western Sahara conflict in the 1970s and 1980s.
Last month, the Sahrawi Association for the Defense of Human Rights (ASADEDH), a Spanish human rights group active on the Western Sahara question, took issue with the presence of a Polisario leader at a high-profile conference in Madrid.
“We denounce the presence in the capital of Spain, Madrid, of Bachir Mustafa Sayed, one of the main accused or investigated by the Spanish National Court in the serious violations of human rights, such as kidnapping, torture, murder, etc. committed in the Sahara between 1974 and 1988,” ASADEDH said in a statement.