Western Sahara: Campaigners call for of release of hunger strikers after 1 month without food

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Flag of Morocco

A human rights campaigner from Western Sahara who spoke out against
the Moroccan occupation of his country on BBC documentary is among six
hunger strikers in a critical condition after a month without food.
The six promininent human rights defenders have been held in a
Moroccan prison for over 6 months and could face the death penalty if
found guilty of trumped-up charges against them. Amnesty International
have adopted them as prisoners of conscience and today human rights
groups called for their immediate release.

Rachid Sghir, a member of the Committee Action against Torture,
appeared in a BBC documentary, Tropic of Cancer, broadcast in March
2010. He was arrested and beaten immediately after a secret interview
in which he condemed the unlawful 35 year occupation of Western Sahara
and the resulting human rights abuses suffered by Saharawi people. On
October 8th 2009 he was charged with treason along with six other key
human rights defenders following a visit to the Saharawi refugee camps
in Algeria. The seven are awaiting a military tribunal on the charge
of treason. If found guilty Sghir and his colleagues could face the
death penalty.

On 18th March, after over five months in prison, they launched a
hunger strike and after one month surviving on just sugared water,
there are serious concerns for their well-being. Their hunger strike
has highlighted the need for international human rights monitoring in
the disputed territory and added strength to the growing international
demand for the UN to implement such monitoring. On 30 April the UN
will pass a new resolution on Western Sahara which will provide an
opportunity to extend the mandate of the UN peace-keeping force in
Western Sahara to include human rights monitoring.

Jeremy Corbyn MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on
Western Sahara said today:
“It is now month since the hunger strikers began their and I am very
afraid for their safety. They are being persecuted for exercising
their right to express their political opinion and for engaging in
legitimate activities. The treatment they are suffering is however
common in a territory where human rights defenders are regular victims
of arbitrary arrest, sexual violence, torture and “disappearance”. I
call on Morocco to release the hunger strikers immediately and without
condition. I also call on the United Nations to take this month’s
opportunity to fulfill its responsibility under article 73 of its
Charter and to begin human rights monitoring in Western Sahara.”

Simon Reeve, who made the BBC documentary said today:
“This is a deeply worrying and tragic situation. I can only hope
Rachid receives the proper medical help and legal representation that
he deserves. The rest of the world really needs to get more involved
in this lingering tragedy, because at the moment there’s little sign
of a resolution to the wider issues surrounding Western Sahara. The
international community must help the two sides come to some sort of
agreement, so the Saharawi people can leave their desert refugee camps
and return to their home in Western Sahara.”

At 9pm on Thursday 15th April there will be a candle-lit vigil at
Camden Lock for the hunger strikers. Gather at 250 Camden High Street.
Contact press office: 07799650791
For more information visit Free Western Sahara Network

Tropic of Cancer was broadcast on 14th March 2010
To see the BBC interview visit –
To see the BBC news story visit –

The prisoners Sale prison Rabat are:

1) Brahim Dahane, President of the Saharawi Association of Victims of
Serious Violations Committed by Morocco (ASVDH);

2) Ali Salem Tamek , First Vice President of the Collective of
Saharawi Human Rights Defenders (CODESA) and member of the Moroccan
Association for Human Rights (AMDH);

3) Ahmad Anasiri: General Secretary of the Saharawi Committee for the
Defense of Human Rights in Smara and President of AMDH Smara Chapter;

4) Ms. Dagja Lachgar, Member of the Executive Office of ASVDH;

5) Yahdih Ettarrouzi, Member of AMDH Laayounne Chapter;

6) Saleh Lebayhi: President of the Forum for Protection of Saharawi
Children and member of the Laayoune Chapter of CODESA and AMDH; and

7) Rachid Sghayar, Member of Committee Action against Torture

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