The serious abuses and human rights violations committed by the Polisario leaders and torturers in the Tindouf camps have a long history. Sahrawi victims of these violations still have vivid memories of the brutal way the Polisario had repressed the uprisings in the Tindouf camps in 1988.
During a seminar held in Casablanca by the forum of support to autonomy supporters in Tindouf (FORSATIN) in partnership with the International Coalition for the support of Moroccan Sahara autonomy, many participants recalled the “serious human rights violations committed during the repression of the uprising in the Tindouf camps in 1988.” Protesters arrested following the 1988 rebellion have been tortured and are scarred for life.
Noureddine Bilali Idrissi said that this uprising, in which he participated, was crushed in blood and violence, at the order of Algerian authorities. The aim was to silence the rising voices against the tragic living conditions and the daily sufferings that were prevailing in the camps of Tindouf, he said.
Many protesters, including children and women, have been detained and tortured, insisted Idrissi, who added that “more than 700 women have been tortured and that some of them were forced to take off their clothes and stay naked in freezing weather”.
Despite the violent repression, the 1988 uprising helped the camps inhabitants to break the fear barrier.
Another witness of the uprising, Biyyat El Zegham, said that the security and repressive measures imposed on the populations, including youth, women and the elderly, did not succeed to prevent the revolt against political injustice and tyranny.
The Polisario leadership, adept of the policy of the single discourse, would go any length to silence dissident voices, including imprisonment and physical liquidation, El Zegham said.
In addition, the Polisario torturers used the suffering of the Sahrawi refugees and detainees to embezzle international assistance and promote their propaganda abroad.
Thus, the October 1988 Revolution unveiled the true face of those who run with an iron fist the Tindouf camps, and it also enabled the emergence of a mature, open political elite, like Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud, who was sent far away from his family and expelled to Mauritania for having voiced openly his support to the autonomy plan proposed by Morocco to put an end to the territorial dispute opposing it to the separatist movement.