The wave of protests that has shaken the Polisario-controlled camps in Tindouf since 2011 has had particularly cruel fallout on protesters and human rights advocates. Two other Sahrawi militants living in these camps in southwestern Algeria recently paid a high price for their support to the Western Sahara autonomy.
Mohamed Abidou Ould Lahmid and Abdallahi Sallami who were participating in a protest march with other activists backing the Western Sahara autonomy were arrested and taken to a secret location. Other Sahrawis who took to the streets in the Rabouni camp, hosting the Polisario headquarters, to demand the departure of the Polisario chief, Mohamed Abdelaziz, were violently dispersed.
The two recent kidnappings are to be added to the long list of opponents and dissidents who continue to languish in prison or who were simply banned from the Tindouf camps. The most famous of these banned Sahrawis is dissident Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud.
Mustapha Salma who was in charge of the Polisario security until 2010, was banned from the camps after he publicly voiced support to the autonomy plan proposed by Morocco to settle the Western Sahara conflict.
He had been imprisoned and tortured for several months before the international NGOs intervene to defend him. The protests of human rights watchdogs, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have finally forced the Polisario to release him.
Mustapha Salma was however expelled to Mauritania, while his wife and children are still living in the Polisario controlled camps in Algeria.
Recently, El Bachir Mustapha Sayed, one of the founders of the Polisario in the 1970s and influential member of the front, voiced his support to Mustapha Salma and denounced his ordeal. But so far this support has not had any echo within the Polisario leadership.