A “military court” of the Polisario Front handed heavy sentences to three Sahrawis for alleged cooperation with Morocco.
Rabat – Dozens of Sahrawis made their way to the Polisario Front’s “presidential” headquarters in Rabouni, Algeria to condemn the heavy sentences a “military court” handed three Sahrawis.
The Polisario Front sentenced the three individuals to 19 years in prison for their alleged cooperation with Morocco.
The families of the three Sahrawis and others protested in front of the Polisario headquarters to denounce human rights violations and arbitrary detentions in the Tindouf camps.
The protests also called attention to the case of Mohamed Salahi, a 70-year-old civilian kidnapped by an armed group from north Mali and detained by Polisario.
Drug traffickers kidnapped Salahi while they were waiting for a drug shipment.
احتاجات امام مقر غالي اليوم في الرابوني تنديدا بالمحاكمات العسكرية الاخيرة للمدنيين في مخيمات اللاجيين الصحراويين. و مطالبين بالافراج عن الاب محمد صلاحي
Former Polisario leading officer Mustafa Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud said in a Facebook post on June 4 that a patrol unit of the Polisario Front arrested both the drug traffickers and Salahi.
“Mohamed Salahi thought he was rescued [when the patrol arrived] but he was surprised to find himself in prison with his kidnappers,” Mustafa Salma wrote.
He said that prison guards opened the doors for the kidnappers at night to facilitate their escape to Mali.
“Mohamed Salahi refused to escape, and he was waiting for justice against those who assaulted him and those who imprisoned him unjustly,” Musafa Salma.
Salahi’s relatives were surprised to see a “military court” sentenced him to five years in prison
“The crime of Mohamed Salahi was the fact that he testified that the Polisario leadership colluded with the organized crime gangs and because he refused any settlement in exchange for his silence,” Mustafa Salma argued.
The protests in Rabouni are not the first of their kind. The Polisario Front has been receiving backlash for alleged human rights violations against Sahrawis and activists, with observers and resident refugees condemning the living conditions in the Tindouf camps.
In 2019, Polisario also arrested three activists for protests condemning actions taken by some Polisario leaders.
Several NGOs also condemned the arrest and the continued disappearance of Ahmed El Khalil, a Polisario leader who has been missing for a decade.
In 2009, Algerian intelligence services, along with Polisario members, kidnapped El Khalil two months after Polisario had appointed him to monitor human rights in the Tindouf camps.
In July 2019, a group of Sahrawis marched in Rabouni, Algeria to condemn the continued, forced disappearance of El Khalil.
The UN briefly discussed the arbitrary arrests of activists in Tindouf camps.
In paragraph 71 of his October 2019 report to the Security Council, the UN Secretary General informed the council that OHCHR received information about the arrest, arbitrary detention, and ill-treatment of a human rights defender and blogger by Polisario security forces in the Tindouf camps in June 2019.
The situation in the Tindouf camps remains dire as the UN and international community have yet to stop the crisis and oppression against Sahrawis in the camps.