French activist cycles to Geneva in solidarity with Western Sahara

Paris (France) 17 August 2020 (SPS)- French activist and PHD student, Meriem Naili, has today started a bike ride from France to Geneva in Switzerland, in solidarity with the Saharawi people and in favour of the decolonization of this last colony in Africa.

The young woman also launched an online petition (check petition here) stressing that the UN must include human rights monitoring to its Mission’s mandate in Western Sahara, planing to hand copies of it in the end to representatives of the UN agencies and the Red Cross in Geneva.

“Western Sahara must stop being the UN’s human rights blind spot; human rights should be monitored, protected and promoted!” the petition reads, calling on the “UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and relevant Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council carry out a visit to the territory and the refugee camps in order to assess the current situation.”

The young activist further urges “ICRC to visit Sahrawi political prisoners held in Moroccan prisons for the sole reason that they were peacefully protesting to defend their inalienable right to self-determination.”

With regards to the UN-led peace plan in Western Sahara, Meriem called on the “UN member states to demand that a Personal Envoy to the Secretary General for Western Sahara be appointed immediately in order to re-launch the negotiations between Morocco and the POLISARIO Front, the UN-recognised representative of the Saharawi people,” she wrote.

She further considered that “International humanitarian law and human rights law are the basis of any rightful and peaceful decolonisation process” in Western Sahara, stressing that “UN peace operations ought to safeguard a fundamental human right, the right to peace, from which derives the rest of core human rights as per the UN General Assembly resolution A/71/189 adopted on 19 December 2016.”

Therefore, she adds “it is only logical that they incorporate, explicitly or not, human rights monitoring mechanisms,” calling on “UN member states to insist on the inclusion of human rights within the mandate of the MINURSO, which would among others allow for an impartial and independent human rights monitoring in the territory and to hold to account the perpetrators of human rights violations.” (SPS)

090/500/60 (SPS)