South-African human rights activist urges UN to accelerate self-determination referendum process

Pretoria, 30 November 2020 (SPS) -The South-African human rights activist Catherine Constantinides on Sunday denounced the “deliberate” Moroccan attack against Sahrawi civilians in El Guerguarat and urged the United Nations (UN) to set a date for the organization of the self-determination referendum.

Morocco’s “deliberate” action has forced the Polisario back into an armed conflict. It has signalled a new chapter and moment in history for the liberation of the Saharawi people. And there can be no turning back, after waiting for a peace-led process by the United Nations Mission for the Referendum of Western Sahara, MINURSO, said Constantinides quoted by the South-Africa-based information website Independent online (IOL).

“Almost 30 years later, a lack of political will and with no referendum in sight, the UN mission; MINURSO- which was tasked to organise and monitor the referendum for the self-determination of the Saharawi people of Western Sahara has failed,” she continued.

“Additionally, it must be noted that MINURSO is the only peace keeping mission in the world that does not monitor human rights, thus the ongoing violation of human rights in the occupied territory has gone unnoticed,” affirmed the activist.

“This is a vile failure on the part of the UN as there have been ongoing calls for a human rights mandate under MINURSO for years by the international community, human rights organisations and activists alike,” she stressed. 

Following the military attack on the Saharawi territory the Saharawi government has now declared the entire territory of Western Sahara "including its terrestrial, maritime and air spaces, a war zone", thus advising all countries and economic operators to steer away from the territory.

It’s of paramount importance that urgent action be taken as a matter of emergency. This armed conflict brings instability to the region and uncertainty to the Sahel. The Saharawi people have been patient, persistent, respectful of process and procedure, but being dragged back into an armed conflict because Morocco broke the ceasefire agreement leaves the Polisario with no alternative but to stand and defend their people, their land and their fight for the most basic human right, their right to life, liberation and freedom.

The allies of Western Sahara must continue to stand against the illegal occupation, colonization, oppression and heinous crimes against humanity that the Saharawi suffer on a daily basis. (SPS)