The incident has received little attention in Europe, which sources a significant portion of its fossil fuel imports from Algeria.
Rabat – Massimiliano Salini, an Italian politician and member of the European Parliament (MEP), recently condemned a killing in October, when Algerian soldiers allegedly burned two young Sahrawis alive near the Tindouf refugee camps in western Algeria.
Speaking before the European Commission on the abject criminal act, Salini emphasized that the dire situation and abuses in Tindouf are Algeria’s responsibility, according to Morocco’s state media.
A “deleterious climate” prevails in Algeria, he continued, highlighting the social and political turbulence that complements a lack of fundamental freedoms and the repression of dissidents.
Salini also stressed abuses against Algerian political prisoners and the forced expulsion of refugees, including children.
The Algerian army’s alleged murder of Moha Ould Hamdi Ould Sweilm and Aliyin Idrissi has gone largely unnoticed at the international level. It appears only local and regional media have reported on the incident.
The case dates back to October 19, when Moha and Aliyin were illegally prospecting for gold in a restricted area near the Tindouf camps under the cover of night.
Algeria has long banned gold mining near Tindouf. Sahrawi gold miners usually face prison sentences and fines if they are caught prospecting in the area.
But with dire living conditions and meager employment opportunities in the Tindouf camps, some Sahrawis feel they have no other choice than to prospect for gold to support themselves and their families.
Moha and Aliyin were doing just that on October 19. When Algerian soldiers saw the two young men, they elected to fire live ammunition at them rather than hand over fines.
The victims attempted to flee by hiding in a dry well. The Algerian soldiers then allegedly set fire to the well and burned the Sahrawis alive.
Sahrawis in Tindouf protested the alleged murder, but Saldini’s condemnation before the European Commission is one of the few acknowledgments of the incident in Europe.
Algeria is one of Europe’s major fossil fuel suppliers.
The Observatory of Human Rights of Catalonia (Observatori Drets Humans a Catalunya) decried the soldiers’ “barbarism” in October, with the NGO’s president Richard Checa calling on the international community to denounce this “unacceptable and unforgivable act.”
“A country like Algeria which claims to be democratic cannot treat a human being in this way,” Checa argued.
“The international community and all the institutions competent in the field of human rights cannot leave this act in oblivion.”