Tindouf camps in turmoil

chabab-saharaA wave of protests has been shaking the Tindouf camps over the past few days under the passive watch of the Algerian army and security forces.

The popular protest movements that were violently repressed took place in several camps and particularly in the Rabouni camp hosting the headquarters of the separatist Polisario Front.

The head of the Polisario, Mohamed Abdelaziz and his old cronies found no other way to calm down the growing discontent of the camps population, mainly the youths, than to give their militias, with the blessing of Algerian authorities, carte blanche to use force to quell the protests. 

A dissident Polisario military said, on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, that for the front leadership, the young demonstrators have chosen the wrong time to publicly unveil their claims to employment, food and freedom of movement. 

The same explanation was made by a Sahrawi NGO, the “Moroccan Alliance for Citizenship and Human Rights,” which said in a statement released Monday that the protest movement has prompted the Polisario leadership to tighten the blockade imposed on all the camps. 

The NGO on the other hand send a letter to the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, calling him to “take urgent action to end the violations and abuses perpetrated by the Polisario militia and Algerian forces against peaceful demonstrators in the Tindouf camps.” 

The letter called for the release of jailed protesters and for ensuring to the sequestered populations the right to freedom of movement and expression and asked the UN Secretary General to expedite the identification of the Tindouf camps populations, which are forced to live in dire conditions. 

The NGO also called the UN to recognize “the key role of Algeria in the conflict” of Western Sahara and to end the “tight control” that Algerian authorities permanently exert on the camps, in violation of the Sahrawi refugees’ right to freedom of movement. 

Another Spain-based NGO, the Association of Sahrawi women for democracy and human rights, has also strongly condemned the repression exerted by the Polisario militia and the arrests of peaceful demonstrators.