Timor-Leste: Joint Press release calling for urgent release of Sahrawi human rights activist Sultana Khaya

Dili, (Timor-Leste) 6 October 2021(SPS) - After Organisations from the Timorese Civil Society had   launched recently a Campaign in Timor-Leste to urgently free Sultana Khaya, her family and all the Saharawi human rights activists imprisoned by Morocco.

Today the Campaign has been reinforced byJoint Press release signed by various Timorese Political parties, NGOS, Political personalities, Human rights Organisations and Universities. Here is the full text of the Joint Press release:

Sultana Khaya is renown Sahrawi woman human rights defender whose work focuses on promoting peacefully the right to self-determination for the Sahrawi people. The human rights defender is the President of the organization League for the Defense of Human Rights and against Morocco Plunder of Natural Resources in illegally Morocco Occupied Western Sahara.  Sultana has been just nominated for the European Parliament’s 2021 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

Sultana Khaya and her family have been under de facto house arrest since last November 2020 in their home in city of Boujdour, Western Sahara imposed by the Morocco security.

During all this time Sultana and her family have been subjected to all kind of cruel inhuman and degrading treatment including physical, psychological torture, ugly harassment and surveillance; Moroccan Security service agents are regularly stationed in front of their home, preventing the family from leaving the house and people, including relatives, from visiting them. On numerous occasions, Sultana Khaya and her family have been physically attacked by police when they tried to leave their home.

Sultana has suffered recently from Covid 19, and now the death threat and intimidations from the Moroccan Security forces because of her political opinion related to Western Sahara.

“The police heavy-handed stakeout around Sultana Khaya’s home illustrates Morocco’s determination to keep pressure, including psychological, on those who reject its claim of sovereignty over Western Sahara,” Goldstein said, acting Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Yet speaking out peacefully remains her right, and nothing justifies blockading her home without any legal basis.”

“The police heavy-handed stakeout around Sultana Khaya’s home illustrates Morocco’s determination to keep pressure, including psychological, on those who reject its claim of sovereignty over Western Sahara,” Goldstein said.

This unlawful detention is part of a wider crackdown by the Moroccan authorities on Sahrawi activists and critical voices within Western Sahara.

“Moroccan authorities have long kept a strong lid on any public protests against Moroccan rule in Western Sahara and in favor of self-determination for the territory. They have beaten activists in their custody and on the streets, imprisoned and sentenced them in trials marred by due process violations, including torture, impeded their freedom of movement, and followed them openly. Moroccan authorities also refused entry to Western Sahara to scores of foreign visitors over the last few years, including journalists and human rights activists.” Human rights watch

Western Sahara has been under Moroccan military occupation since Spain, the former colonial power, pulled out in 1976. Last November 2020, Morocco violated the 29-year ceasefire with the Polisario Front, and war returned to the territory, followed by a Moroccan fierce crackdown against the Sahrawi people.

We the under signed call for the immediate urgent actions:

- We add our voices to many others calls including Human rights watch and Amnesty international that Morocco must immediately lift the arbitrary house arrest against the Saharawi human rights defender, Sultana Khaya and her family.

- We condemn Morocco’s human rights violations against Saharawis peacefully calling for self-determination and independence in illegally occupied Western Sahara.

- We call upon the International Committee of the Red Cross to take "urgent steps" to ensure the security and safety of unarmed Sahrawi citizens and to urgently send a medical mission to the city of Boujdour to examine the ongoing violations of the international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions against Sultana Khaya family.

- We call upon Morocco to free release all the Saharawi human rights activists including “Gdeim Izik Group”

- We call upon UN to give the United Nations Mission for the referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) a mandate to monitor and report about human rights in Western Sahara.

- United Nations must protect the Saharawi civilians in occupied Western Sahara

- Morocco must open the occupied Western Sahara to international observers and International media to report about the situation in Western Sahara and the Status of Human rights.

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