Frente POLISARIO denounces expulsion of international observers by Moroccan authorities of occupation

New York, June 24, 2019 (SPS) - The Frente POLISARIO has expressed its strong condemnation of the expulsion carried out by the Moroccan authorities of occupation in Western Sahara against international observers who were planning to attend the trial of Sahrawi journalist Nazha El Khalidi, scheduled for today, in a letter addressed by Representative of the Frente POLISARIO at the United Nations, Dr Sidi M. Omar, to Permanent Representative of the State of Kuwait to the United Nations, President of the Security Council, H.E. Mr Mansour Al-Otaibi.

Below is the full text of the letter:

“H.E. Mr Mansour Al-Otaibi

Permanent Representative of the State of Kuwait to the United Nations

President of the Security Council

New York, 24 June 2019

Excellency,

I am writing to report that, on Sunday 23 June 2019, the Moroccan authorities of occupation in Western Sahara expelled three lawyers of the Spanish Bar Association who were planning to attend as international observers the trial of the Sahrawi journalist Nazha El Khalidi, scheduled for today. Mrs Inés Miranda Navarro, Mr Miguel Ángel Jerez Juan and Mr José María Costa Serra were expelled upon their arrival at the airport of El Aaiún, the capital of the occupied Western Sahara. On Saturday 22 June 2019, the Moroccan authorities also expelled two observers from the United States Bar Association who were similarly planning to attend Ms El Khalidi’s trial as international observers.

It is to be recalled that Ms El Khalidi was arrested on 4 December 2018 on account of her recording and live-streaming of a video during a peaceful demonstration that was harshly repressed by Moroccan security forces in the city of El Aaiún, the capital of the occupied Western Sahara. Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have condemned Morocco’s imprisonment of Ms El Khalidi and called for her immediate release.

I would like to bring to your attention and that of the Members of the Security Council our strong condemnation of this provocative action that once more demonstrates Morocco’s continued attempts to firmly keep the occupied territories of Western Sahara off limits to international observers and foreign journalists. Morocco’s repeated expulsions of international observers and media from the occupied Western Sahara share a common objective, which is none other than to hide the heinous crimes perpetrated by the Moroccan occupying forces against Sahrawi civilians.

What makes the situation even more alarming is that all the repressive and terrorising practices pursued systematically by the Moroccan occupying forces against Sahrawi civilians take place under complete media blackout imposed on the occupied Western Sahara. Sahrawi journalists, bloggers and human rights defenders covering human rights violations in the Territory (Secretary-General report S/2019/282 of 1 April 2019, paragraph 66) are persecuted and detained unjustly. As highlighted by the report released recently by Reporters Without Borders entitled “Western Sahara, a Desert for Journalists”, the occupied Western Sahara remains a territory cut off from the rest of the world, a veritable news black hole that has become a no-go zone for journalists.

In my previous letter dated 3 June 2019, I drew the attention of Your Excellency to the persistent scourge of Moroccan landmines in Western Sahara and the many innocent lives that they have claimed over the past decades. On 19 June 2019, two Sahrawi civilians were seriously injured as a result of a mine accident near Bir Ganduz in Western Sahara. The tragic incident is another reminder of the urgent need to exert pressure on Morocco to conduct demining activities in the occupied Western Sahara and to adhere to international instruments banning the use of landmines and related devices.

The UN Secretary-General has repeatedly insisted that impartial, comprehensive and sustained monitoring of the human rights situation is necessary to ensure the protection of all people in Western Sahara. It is therefore imperative that the Security Council exert the necessary pressure on Morocco to ensure that UN human rights monitors and international observers gain full, unfettered and continuous access to the occupied Western Sahara, and that they can report freely and openly about human rights in the Territory.

The United Nations has the legal and moral responsibility to exert its utmost efforts to ensure the protection of human rights in the occupied Western Sahara pending the accomplishment of the decolonisation of the Territory in line with relevant UN resolutions.

I would be most grateful if you would bring the present letter to the attention of the members of the Security Council.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurance of my highest consideration.

Dr Sidi M. Omar

Representative of the Frente POLISARIO at the United Nations” (SPS)

062/SPS