Bardem demands action to end human rights abuses in occupied Western Sahara

United Nations (New York), Oct 6, 2011 (SPS) -The Spanish Oscar-winning actor, Javier Bardem, has urged Tuesday the international community to put an end to the human rights abuses in the territories of Western Sahara which is currently occupied by Morocco, in address before the UN General Assembly's decolonization committee.
 Below is the full text of Bardem’s address 
Ladies and gentlemen:
I am very grateful for the opportunity and the privilege to speak to the Fourth Committee today.
I am here as an independent citizen. I am not affiliated with any political group or representing any government.
It is our duty as citizens, to remind our leaders of their responsibilities when injustice occurs.
The people of the Western Sahara are suffering under repression inside the occupied territory; they are suffering in refugee camps in the Sahara Desert, where they have been forgotten, for decades. But no one hears of their suffering.
The Saharawis were promised a referendum on the future of their country 20 years ago. Today, they are still waiting for this chance to declare their views.
I have visited the camps of the Saharawi refugees. These people have great dignity and endurance, but it is an international disgrace that generations of Saharawis are born, live and die in these camps, and their compatriots suffer under repression in the territory.
Last November, a peaceful Saharawi protest demanding better living conditions was suppressed, violently, by Moroccan police and armed forces. There have even been reports of violence in the ocuppied territory in the last few days. Almost no one has heard of this abuse, because journalists and human rights organizations are not allowed to visit the territory. According to a report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the denial of human rights for the Saharawi people is routine. Despite this report and its clear recommendations, the UN mission, present there since 1991, does not have the mandate to monitor human rights in the Western Sahara. It is the only UN mission since 1978 that has not been mandated to monitor human rights. This mandate has been repeatedly blocked by certain Security Council members.
This is an astonishing and unacceptable omission, and I appeal to the UN Security Council and the High Commissioner for Human Rights to immediately institute monitoring human rights in the territory. Countries that declare loudly their support of human rights and democracy can no longer turn a blind eye to the Western Sahara.  If the UN cannot protect a people under occupation, who can?
The situation of the Western Sahara is a grave injustice, a violation of international law and our own basic sense of right and wrong.  Other countries have calculated their economic and political interests, but have ignored the terrible human cost.  Morocco has been allowed indefinitely to delay the referendum.
The European Union and the United States seem to have decided that the situation can be ignored. They have pretended that the UN process will resolve the problem, when it is clear that after 20 years of discussion, it has not.
The UN envoy, Christopher Ross, must be given determined backing by all countries that claim to support the values of democracy, law and justice. My own country, the original colonial power in the Western Sahara, bears a particular responsibility, as do all members of the UN Security Council. The parties must be told, enough is enough: no more delays, no more pointless negotiations, the time has come for a just solution. A deadline must be set, and held to.
The “Arab Spring” carries a very clear message: the people must speak.
The Saharawis were promised that right by the UN and the international community over twenty years ago. This promise must now be fulfilled. The suffering of the people of the Western Sahara must be witnessed by the UN, and made visible to the world. There is only one way finally to that suffering: the people of the Western Sahara must be allowed to speak. (SPS)


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