Western Sahara Campaigners mark International Peace Day in Camden, London, with a demand for the immediate end to torture

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Flag of Morocco

To mark Monday’s International Peace Day campaigners for a free Western Sahara held meetings in London and a candle-lit vigil calling for an end to torture, a number of horrific cases of which have been documented in the past few days. Over 30 people gathered by Regents’ canal, Camden Lock, to demanded swift action by the international community to put pressure on the Moroccan government to stop the arbitrary arrest and violence against Saharawi’s living in occupied Western Sahara. In a symbolic gesture they floated a number of candles on the water as an act of solidarity with those who have been tortured.

According to human rights activists in Western Sahara there have been over 20 documented cases of police torture in September alone. These cases have been forwarded to Amnesty international. They include the following:

16/9/09 – Boujdour Sultana Khayia had her arm broken by police.
17/9/09 – Mohamed Brakan (21) was thrown from the roof of a house by police.
19/9/09 – Mohamed Tahil was assaulted by police and had his nose broken.
19/9/09 – Ayzan Amydan (29) was released after suffering serious physical and psychological torture.

These reports come in the wake of the recent public outcry over the treatment of the so called Oxford Six students arrested and beaten by Moroccan police last month whilst on their way to a peace conference in England. Thanks to swift action by human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, the release of the arrested students was secured. However since their release, two of the students Ms Hassawina Nguyia and Mr. Razouk Choummad were picked up by police and beaten on 27th August and 1st September respectively.

Western Sahara has been illegally occupied by Morocco for over 34 years despite over 100 UN resolutions a ruling by the International Court of Justice. Around 165,000 Saharawi have been forced to live in refugee camps in the Algerian desert for more than three decades. The rest of the population live in the occupied territory where, according to international human rights organisations, they experience discrimination and human rights abuses.

Y. Lamine Baali, UK representative of Polisario, Western Sahara’s government in exile said today: “This repression against peaceful protesters must stop immediately. Each day we hear more cases of the brutality of Moroccan police who storm into Saharawi houses, make artbritrary arrests and subject men and women to physical and psychological torture during interrogation. Governments around the world can no longer sit passively by and observe these flagrant abuses of human rights. They have a moral and political obligation to ensure that international human rights standards are applied. The time has come for action to put an immediate end to the torture of defenseless Saharawi population in occupied Western Sahara.”

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