Spain, Morocco, a displaced people and the UN are mixing it up tragically in an unfolding travesty that’s recieving scarce media attention due to journalist expulsions*…this just crossed my desk from an aid worker who’s on the ground. Please read…pray…forward this on…and consider how we might take action:
*Update: This human rights abuse does seem to be getting at least some media attention.
Hello . . . You are receiving this email because you have expressed an
interest in the Saharawi people. I am in the camps right now, where we
have a large team on the ground.
We are in the midst of a never-before experience here. Please read the
following message and consider passing it on to anyone who
might be able to help…either through prayer or in a practical way.
Thank you! Janet
URGENT….URGENT….URGENT…..URGENT…..URGENT….Nov. 10, 2010
This is an urgent plea on behalf of the Saharawi people. At this moment
in time, the situation has become explosive. We, American citizens are in
the Saharawi refugee camps, watching a nightmare unfold before our very eyes.
In the Homeland of Western Sahara:
- Tens of thousands of Saharawi were amassing in a peaceful
demonstration “camp” outside their former capital city of Layoune,
- Morocco, the occupying government since 1975, expelled all
journalists and news media last week, cutting the homeland off from any
- Monday, Nov. 8, 2010…Moroccan forces surrounded the peaceful,
unarmed protest “camp” and began a crackdown; in the early morning hours
they began burning tents, beating women and children, spraying the
Saharawi with tear gas and hot water, and then turned to the use of live
Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010
- The President of the Saharawi people
announced to the population that they are being asked to show restraint
and continue to hold to peaceful actions, as they have done since 1991.
- Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010 . . . Negotiations which were scheduled to be
held between Morocco and the Saharawi were encouraged to continue by the
Saharawi President, even though his people were under Morocco’s attack.
The Saharawi negotiations representatives returned to the table, but
finding a continued, entrenched stand by Morocco, negotiations ended.
In the refugee camps of the Saharawi, Sahara Desert of Algeria:
- Wednesday, Nov. 10, … Our American team is living amongst a
people in the refugee camps who are receiving phone calls from their
family members in the homeland, hearing the terror in their voices as
they describe the brutality they are experiencing at the hands of
Moroccan troops, pleading for help. Men and women are being beaten,
youth are being physically taken from their homes, bodies are decaying
in the street because the Saharawi cannot get out to bury them. There
are a growing number of toddlers found wandering around, unable to
express what has happened to them, and their parents’ whereabouts are
Today, 150 Saharawi are missing, 11 dead, and over 700 injured.
- Wednesday, Nov. 10, … Frustration, anger and rage have pushed
the Saharawi in the camps to their own breaking point of patience for
any justice. They cannot bear doing nothing, knowing their families
are living in horror. The governments’ plea for further patience may
not be able to restrain the anger that has built inside this peaceful
people since they were forced from their homes in 1975.
As Believers in the God Who Sees and the God of Justice and Mercy, we
are asking you to urgently take action to bring this story to the
awareness of the United States.
Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010
Here is an update Janet wrote just before leaving Saturday night on what we know about the Saharawi
Events are escalating in the Saharawi refugee camps. Each day there have been more and more reports coming into families in the camps via cell phone communication from the occupied homeland families. Some of that information is as follow:
- No known journalists remain in the area
- 37 identified bodies discovered in a mass grave near the now-destroyed protest camp outside Layoune. Many more bodies remain in the streets, unable to be identified by families due to their inability to come out of hiding
- Over 4000 have been injured.
- Frantic messages from terrorized family members in Layoune continue to pour into the camps via cell phone contact with their families, often from women pleading for help from the refugee population. Screams and crying have been replayed on the radio station throughout the camps. The effect on the refugees is wrenching.
- Eye-witnesses in the area outside Layoune report seeing Moroccan helicopters dropping bodies into the sea, clothed in the traditional blue robes of the Saharawi.
- Moroccan civilians clothed as Saharawi have been armed by Morocco with pistols and knives, and encouraged to attack and kill Saharawi civilians, who remain unarmed. This has heightened the terror of the already-panicked Saharawi, now unable to easily identify who might be a dangerous person.
- The number of dead continues to mount, including very young children and the elderly.
- The number of disappeared individuals is over 2000. Most of the dead who can be identified are those on the list of disappeared.
- More than 2000 were arrested.
- Last night 6 were judged in court, one of them a young man who had visited the refugee camps in the past year.
In the refugee camps:
- Today, Saturday, Nov. 13, larger and growing demonstrations are taking place, mainly by young men, demanding to go to war against Morocco. They are completely disillusioned toward any peaceful means after growing up in the past 20 years of cease fire, during which no progress has been made to give the Saharawi their chance for a referendum. They want to stop the killing of their family members on the other side of the land mined berm and to have their country 19s freedom from Morocco’s cruel oppression. The sounds of caravans of cars and trucks filled with shouting young people have filled roadways as they travel camp to camp, adding more and more cars of young people to their protest. This has been going on the past 3 nights, and all day today.
- The Saharawi President announced to the UN that if there is no significant action taken by the UN or the world community by this coming Tuesday, he cannot be responsible for what may happen as his people approach the brink of taking matters into their own hands against Morocco.
- Nov. 14 marks the anniversary in 1975 of the agreement made between Morocco, Mauritania and Spain to take control of Western Sahara, dividing it and its resources between the three countries. At that time, Western Sahara had been fighting to gain its independence from Spain, under which the Saharawi homeland had been colonized since the 1800’s. This further deepens the wounds of the Saharawi people, who have chosen to pursue peace until a resolution could come through the UN’s promise of a referendum.