New Internationalist

Running out of patience

Issue 426

Exactly 34 years after a ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) recognized the Saharawi’s right to self-determination, British MPs gathered to call for the release of seven human rights defenders in Morocco. Stefan Simanowitz was there.

Photo by: Olivia Mann -
Photo by: Olivia Mann - [email protected]

Last Friday (16 October) in London, to mark the anniversary of the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) ruling on Western Sahara’s right to self-determination, a Saharawi Olympic athlete ran around Parliament Square 34 times: once for each year that the ruling has been ignored by Morocco. The runner, Salah Hmatou Amaidan, was joined for a lap by various MPs, academics and campaigners who were there also to express their concern for the safety of seven prominent human rights activists arrested in Casablanca last week. The advocates belong to a number of human rights organizations and civil society groups and have long track records of monitoring of and reporting on human rights violations in Western Sahara. They were driven away by security forces after returning from a visit to the refugee camps in the Algerian desert where 165,000 Saharawis have lived for over three decades. Neither their location nor the reason for their detention has been disclosed. Human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have expressed serious concerns about this latest incident in a country where over 500 Saharawi activists have ‘disappeared’.

Olivia Mann -
Olivia Mann - [email protected]

Amaidan, 26, who regularly trains with British Olympic runner, Paula Radcliffe, in France where he lives in exile, has won gold medals in Africa and Europe and is in London to promote the ‘Running the Sahara’ marathon that takes place in the refugee camps next February. After his run around Parliament Square, Amaidan then ran to the Moroccan Embassy where he delivered a letter calling on Morocco to disclose the exact place of detention of the seven activists and to provide them with immediate access to their families, lawyers and any medical attention they might require. The letter was signed by eight Members of Parliament including Jeremy Corbyn MP (Chair of the All Party Group on Western Sahara), human rights campaigners (including Ruth Tanner, Campaigns Director at War on Want) and academics (including Professor Isabel Santaolalla). A separate letter was also published in the Guardian newspaper.

Olivia Mann -
Olivia Mann - [email protected]

Exactly 34 years after the ICJ stated that the facts did ‘not establish any tie of territorial sovereignty between the territory of Western Sahara and the Kingdom of Morocco’ and upheld UN resolution 1541 on the right of the Saharawis to self-determination, Western Sahara remains occupied. Over a hundred further UN resolutions have been passed but not enforced. In the meantime Saharawis’ human rights are being trampled. Those who stand up against this repression – people like Ahmed Alansari, Brahim Dahane, Yahdih Ettarouzi, Saleh Labihi, Dakja Lashgar, Rachid Sghir and Ali Salem Tamek – risk detention, torture and or even being ’disappeared’ themselves.

Comments on Running out of patience

Leave your comment


  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

...And all is quiet.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

This article was originally published in issue 426

New Internationalist Magazine issue 426
Issue 426

More articles from this issue

  • Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast

    October 1, 2009

    Guitars blast, synthesizers go mad and a group of gospel harmonizers strain for the heavens as sitar strings twang. By Cornershop

  • From the edge

    October 1, 2009

    A gay Iraqi, a Jewish Iranian and a Saudi feminist tell their stories

  • Rishte

    October 1, 2009

    An album with a range of references stretching from a lazy Delta blues to the yearnings of Urdu devotionals. By Najma Akhtar and Gary Lucas.

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.