Shaheed Hafed, March 27, 2014 (SPS) – Sahara Press Service (SPS) celebrates on March 29, its 15th anniversary in the light of new challenges and stakes, amid the process of confronting the Moroccan occupation and its war against the Saharawi people since October 31, 1975, through old and new fallacies, nevertheless the Sahara Press service remained "determined and adherent" to its initial approach of reinforcing "credibility, responsibility and professionalism," which has always preserved.
Sahara Press service was founded March 29,1999 with a support from Algerian News Agency (APS) in collaboration with the Swiss Association for a Free and Fair Referendum in Western Sahara, known as ARSO, in the midst of interactions resulted from the cease-fire on September 6, 1991, and the requirements of the new battle of a war still ongoing marked by media "blackout" across the wall of silence and occupation under Moroccan intransigence opposed to the international legitimacy and ignoring the Sahrawi people's right to self-determination recognized internationally.
Prior to SPS that sent its first telegrams in French on March 29, 1999, statements and press releases were dispatched via fax or by Polisario Front representations and SADR embassies, as well as news clips through amateur radio.
SPS started its news clips in French up till 2001, when it was reinforced by Spanish with the assistance of collaborator (Fernando Guijarro), partly because the majority of embassies in Algeria speak in French, then ARSO’s site that hosted SPS is also in French, with the aim of facilitating the technical part in terms of the establishment of the site, updating it and ensuring protection from piracy.
It was also enhanced by English in 2003. In 2005, the official language of Arabic was introduced and in 2012 Russian language was added thanks to a Russian collaborator.
Gains and achievements:
The role of SPS started to grow gradually, especially following the latest improvement with the launch of its new website in 2011 in keeping up with the technological development. We mention gains such as:
- SPS maintained its credibility in "providing news and liquidity of actions" on national and international matters despite disproportion among the operating languages in the agency, however the updating took place every day in all the languages with minor exceptions.
- Regardless of the numerous difficulties, shortfall of competencies and lack of "incentives", SPS made steps and was able to continue to follow major events with a rate of 24 news items per day to not less than 4 news items, sometimes "exclusive" to the agency including photos of prisoners in Moroccan custodies and in "Carcel Negra" jail in El Aiun following the breakout of Intifada of independence in 2005, hunger strike of Aminetou Haidar and arrest of the 7, camp of Gdeim Izik in 2010 and before that floods in 2006.
- We noted a growing interest in what is published in SPS by the diplomatic missions in the region and beyond and by the press in the region (Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and Tunisia) and even by the Arab press in general. For instance, more than 34.000 visited SPS site in March 2010 and 60.000 visited it in February 2014, distributed on a map with162 countries in the world, including Morocco, Spain, France, Algeria, the United States, Britain, Belgium, Italy, and Germany, as well as countries such as Mayotte, Seychelles, Rwanda at the end of the list.
- SPS news clips are distributed through the world by Sahrawi embassies and representation and friends of Sahrawi people. In Uruguay only, there are more than 8000 subscribers.
- It contributed to the elaboration of its role as a "distinct school of press in style," promotion of the political and diplomatic discourse, training of journalists and refining of young talents.
Today SPS has a site on the Internet and an experienced young crew of journalists working in all languages and sections through teams along the week.
It has become the semi-official source of the Sahrawi Republic and the Polisario Front on everything related to the national cause for news agencies, newspapers, collaborators of diplomatic missions, friends of the Sahrawi people and researchers and interested people in the Sahrawi cause in universities and colleges.
Challenges and stakes:
- How SPS will become an engine to promote media discourse as a school and journalistic experience combining training and practice?
- How can it contribute to the liquidity of "information and actions" for both the stakeholders and collaborators (Sahrawi and foreigners)?
- How to make it not only "adopted" source for news agencies and newspapers but a gateway for communicating and cooperating with it as well?
- How to encounter the electronic warfare as well as misinformation and Blackout?
- How to "crystallize" a harmonious discourse on media and diplomatic fronts regarding the national and international topical issues.
As it inaugurates its 16th year, SPS expresses its will to continue to expose the violations of human rights in Western Sahara committed by the Moroccan regime and denounce its crimes against activists of Intifada of independence.
It is also determined to continue to work "to break the wall of blackout and demolish the military wall of the occupation" and expose its fallacies through all available means, with search for innovation to promote the level of workers in order to meet the aspirations of the Saharawi people.
SPS is resolved to remain a school for "promoting talents and creating competencies" and a platform to expand the circle of sympathy and solidarity with the Saharawi cause, as the representative of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, the Polisario Front and the national cause on the internet.
It is also determined to remain an "uplift" for the speech that devotes the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic as a reality on the ground, to defend the values and principles of freedom, self-determination and independence in the Western Sahara and to further promote the respect of human rights and defend them in the battle against the Moroccan occupation. (SPS)