As negotiations for a definitive settlement of the conflict of the Western Sahara are in a dead end, international human rights activists launched a campaign to collect signatures to a petition calling for the liberation of the Moroccans of Sahrawi origin who have been forcibly detained in the camps of Tindouf in Algeria for 36 years.
The petition signatories accuse the Algerian government of failing to fulfill its commitments in terms of human rights and denounce the violations and abuses committed by the Polisario leaders against the Sahrawi population sequestered in Tindouf.
The organizers of the campaign, held under the motto: “open the Tindouf camps now and free the sequestered”, also hold the international community responsible for what is taking place in these camps, underlining the international community’s failure to ensure the protection of the sequestered people.
The appeal also underlines the human rights violations committed by Algeria in these camps, mainly the freedom of speech and thought, and mentions as an instance the case of the Sahrawi activist, Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud and the case of the young singer Ennajem Allal El Gareh. In addition to that, the petition denounces Algeria’s refusal to issue any administrative document to the sequestered population.
The petition on the other hand recalls that Algeria and the Polisario have repeatedly refused that UN specialized bodies conduct a census of these populations, in blatant violation of the international conventions signed by the host country, Algeria, in particular the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees.
This petition is being circulated while Morocco, which withdrew its confidence in Christopher Ross, still awaits the appointment of a new UN Secretary General’s personal envoy for the Sahara. According to well informed sources in New York, Ban Ki-moon would have picked former US Secretary of State, General Colin Powell, to replace Christopher Ross. With Powell’s appointment, to be announced before the annual meetings of the UN General assembly scheduled to kick off early September, the UN Secretary General will attempt to unblock the dead end reached by the informal negotiations on the Western Sahara.