Tindouf camps, maintained by the Polisario in Algeria, are a vast open air prison where the Sahrawi population is totally deprived of freedom of expression and movement. Those are the conclusions of the conference organized on 16th March in Geneva, within the UN Human Rights Council. The proof of this denial of freedom can be seen through the case of the Polisario dissident, Mustapha Salma, who was imprisoned and tortured before being forced back for having simply expressed his conviction opposite to that of the separatist front leaders.
The former Polisario executive has publicly declared his support to the Moroccan autonomy proposal for the Western Sahara, setting off the Polisario and Algeria’s fury. Released under the NGOs and international media’s pressure, Mustapha Salma was finally forced back to Mauritania. He is still waiting to be authorized to meet his children and his family left in Tindouf camps.
In Geneva, the participants in the conference have mentioned reports of independent bodies among which the “American committee for refugees and migrants” of 2010. The Sahrawi population living in Tindouf camps, according to these reports, is not authorized to move freely. They are not allowed also to freely express opinions other than those expressed by the Polisario and Algeria about the Western Sahara issue. Besides, Algeria and the Polisario are continuously opposing every census of the population benefiting from the international aid, and this despite of the insistence of the HCR. The situation of Sahrawis in the camps is so precarious that they are not authorized to have a paid job in Algeria, the hosting country. More than that, these reports point out the status of Tindouf camps, which are themselves a flagrant violation of international rights and treaties. Their administration is in fact ensured not by Algeria but by a movement, the Polisario on the territory of a sovereign State.