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The President of the Saharawi Republic, Mohamed Abdelaziz, gave a speech in the Spanish city of Seville, where the 37th European Conference of Coordination and Support to the Sahrawi People (EUCOCO), was held from 3 - 5 February.

As we start the proceedings of this 37th international conference of solidarity with the Sahrawi people in Seville, I would like, on behalf of the Government and people of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, to extend our most sincere thanks and gratitude to the solidarity movement in Spain in general and in Andalusia and Seville in particular for the energetic efforts that they have made to organise this remarkable solidarity meeting in this ancient city.

Whilst we celebrate with the European Coordination its 37th conference, we remember with respect and awe the pioneers of the solidarity movement in Europe and in the world, and we bow to the memory of those that have departed us leaving behind a glorious history of friendship and solidarity between peoples, which is embodied by the international character, which has marked this conference over the years, whose demonstration today is the broad and diverse participation of representatives coming from all continents of the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The exercise by the Saharawi people of their right to freedom, self-determination and independence remains a debt on the international community. The continued delay of this exercise is not in the interest of the aspired-for world, because justice, law and human rights are indivisible. The failure to decisively apply these rules and principles or to overlook them may lead to increased risks and threats to security and peace.

The procrastination and obstacles created by the Moroccan Government, with impunity, continue to cast doubt on the feasibility of the peaceful option, and paves the way for uncertainty and tension. This situation requires that the international community take an urgent and strict action. Until when should the world tolerate this blatant injustice and inequality? Why does it not exert all the necessary pressure and sanctions on the aggressor to accept the peaceful, just and democratic solution?

We cannot understand why the United Nations has failed, for over 20 years, to implement its decisions regarding a simple and clear-cut case, at a time when we see how the mechanisms of the Security Council and the United Nations in general have been deployed effectively and expeditiously to deal with conflicts taking place long after the Sahrawi conflict.

The Sahrawi people only have simple, clear, legitimate and reasonable demands that consist in democracy by means of a referendum on self-determination and the implementation of international humanitarian law through ensuring respect for human rights in Western Sahara.

Europe is called upon to contribute actively to finding a just and lasting solution to the conflict in Western Sahara. It should not contradict itself and its principles and values by using all means, including military intervention, to protect human rights and civilians in many parts of the world, whilst turning a blind eye to the violations of human rights and law in Western Sahara by the Moroccan occupying power.

The 20th century witnessed a flagrant violation and infringement of the UN Charter and resolutions as well as fundamental human rights and international law in general, when the Kingdom of Morocco occupied by military force Western Sahara, on 31 October 1975, a country in a process of decolonisation and self-determination. This was coupled with the failure of Spain, the colonial administering power of the territory, to comply with its international obligations.

We now hope that the trend set by the electoral programme of the current Spanish Government would be a corrective move that could enable Spain in the 21st century to play the required effective role consistent with its political, legal and moral responsibility towards the Sahrawi people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Sahrawi people have demonstrated their wisdom and patience in the face of all forms of injustice and tyranny. They have been waging the independence uprising since 21 May 2005, through their peaceful and civilised resistance of which a conspicuous episode was Gdeim Izik Camp, which was set up in November 2010. Despite the brutal repression with which the Moroccan occupying authorities confronted the protest camp, it was an inspiration that sparked off the revolts of many peoples yearning for freedom, justice, democracy and peace.

As a result of the brutal intervention, there are still 23 Sahrawi political detainees in Moroccan prisons, and the Moroccan Government has publically announced that it would put these civilians on trial in military courts.

The solidarity movement is therefore called upon today to accompany the peaceful resistance waged by the Sahrawi people, to lift the Moroccan military siege and media blackout imposed on the occupied territories of Western Sahara, and to support the activists of the independence uprising that are subjected to the most terrible practices of harassment and intimidation.

The Sahrawi peaceful resistance needs support and permanent publicising in human rights and media platforms as well as the massive presence on the ground by human rights activists, journalists, independent observers and solidarity witnesses, because the repressive acts of the Moroccan occupying authorities have exceeded all limits. A case that illustrates the cruelty of those acts is the situation of Said Dunbar, who was assassinated by Moroccan police, but his body has not been buried yet due to the refusal of the Moroccan government to allow a post-mortem of the body to disclose all the circumstances of this crime.

We call upon the United Nations to shoulder its responsibilities towards a territory under its supervision, and to intervene urgently to ensure the release of Yahya Mohamed el Hafed Izza and all Sahrawi political prisoners in Moroccan jails and account for more than 651 Sahrawi disappeared by the Moroccan state, and to expedite the establishment of a UN mechanism that would enable the United Nations Mission in Western Sahara, MINURSO, to protect, monitor and report on human rights in the territory.

It is time to end the crime against humanity represented by the 2700-km military separation wall erected by the Moroccan state, which divides the people and the land of Western Sahara, with its machinery of destruction and millions of landmines, including the internationally banned anti-personnel mines, as it continues to pose serious threats to people, animals and the environment.

We hail the decision taken by the US Congress to link military aid to Morocco to the respect for human rights in Western Sahara. We also applaud the position of the European Parliament that rejected renewal of the EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement, as it constitutes a flagrant violation of the law and an involvement by the European peoples in the theft and illegal exploitation of the resources of an occupied and defenceless people. In this context, whilst condemning the massive and systematic plundering of our resources by Morocco, we call for this illegal exploitation to cease immediately, and call upon all third parties to refrain from signing any agreement affecting the land or the territorial waters of Western Sahara.

On this occasion, we express our full solidarity with all the Spanish fishermen affected by the non-renewal of the Fisheries Agreement because they, like the Sahrawi people, are victims of the Moroccan colonial policies, and the primary responsible for their tragedy is the Moroccan government. Therefore, the end of this tragedy, like the tragedy of the Sahrawi people, consists in expediting the solution of the Western Sahara issue so that all fishermen work within a legal and legitimate framework and in peace and stability.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We also applaud warmly the solidarity movement that has been growing over the years in terms of its activities and scope, and we express our appreciation for its tireless efforts, sacrifices and endurance. We also condemn the provocation and harassment to which members of this movement have been subjected by the Moroccan occupying authorities in their attempt to prevent them from visiting the occupied territories, such as the cowardly assault on the MEP, Willy Meyer, on his visit to the occupied city of La Aaiun.

We likewise take this opportunity to condemn in the strongest terms the terrorist, criminal and cowardly attack on the Sahrawi refugee camps that resulted in the kidnapping of three European aid workers operating in the humanitarian field, namely Ainoa Fernadez de Rincón, Enric Gonyalons and Rossella Urru.

Whilst affirming that the Sahrawi Republic, party to the African Union Convention on Combatting Terrorism, is committed to making every effort to free the hostages as soon as possible, we call upon this conference and the world at large to condemn this crime and to express its solidarity with the victims and their families.

We also express our concern and regret about the fact that our neighbour, the Kingdom of Morocco, is the largest producer and exporter of cannabis in the world. Morocco today is therefore a source not only of the doctrine and practices of expansionism, occupation and colonialism, but also of drugs trafficking that has become associated with terrorism, which threatens the security and stability of the region.

Talking about the international solidarity movement leads us inevitably to talk about the sisterly Algeria that has been committed resolutely to the principles of international legality, particularly decolonisation and self-determination. Algeria has also been hosting tens of thousands of Sahrawi women and children who fled the bombing by Moroccan aircrafts using the internationally banned napalm and white phosphorus, and has generously opened its hospitals and schools for them.

We also salute the Moroccan brotherly people who, just like us, are victims of the policies of an oppressive regime, and we commend those positions expressed by Moroccan parties, organisations and personalities, such as the Democratic Path (an-Nahj ed-Dimuqrati) and the Moroccan Association for Human Rights and others, which are attached to the principles of freedom and dignity and the struggle for justice, democracy and respect for human rights and peoples in line with international law and international humanitarian law.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The struggle of the Sahrawi people and their steadfastness, for more than 37 years, in the face of the attempts to destroy and eliminate the political, social and cultural elements of their existence demonstrates unequivocally that the will of the people is invincible, and that this people are firmly attached to their sacred right to self-determination and independence, however long it may take and whatever the cost may be.

The 13th Congress of the Frente POLISARIO, which was held in December last year, was an opportune forum to assert emphatically the strategic policies of the Sahrawi people and their right to freedom and independence as well as the priorities of the national actions in the coming years, including primarily the building of the state institutions, support of the peaceful resistance and the continuous improvement of management and services.

On the eve of a new round of direct negotiations between the Frente POLISARIO and Morocco, the Congress, which affirmed the right of the Sahrawi people to defend their rights by all internationally recognised means, reiterated the genuine readiness of the Sahrawi party to cooperate constructively with the efforts of the United Nations. We sincerely hope that the Moroccan Government would show a sense of responsibility and abandon its intransigence and stop obstructing the decolonisation of Western Sahara, through a free, fair and impartial referendum on self-determination for the Sahrawi people in line with the precepts of international legality.

The motto of the Congress, namely ‘The Independent Sahrawi State is the Solution’, considering that the Sahrawi State has become an irreversible reality, reflects the will and aspirations of the Sahrawi people to be free and to build a democratic and modern society based on the ideals of freedom, justice, gender equality and coexistence between religions and cultures.

Today we are proud of the leading role played by Sahrawi women at all levels in the state institutions. We are also proud of the great contribution made by young people in the national struggle, and we are keen on promoting their participation now and in the future.

However, the Sahrawi people today face challenges and difficulties resulting from the worsening global economic crisis, which will undoubtedly have a noticeable impact especially on our refugees that rely almost entirely on humanitarian aid.

There is no doubt that the movement will step up its noble and commendable solidarity efforts because we believe firmly that the solidarity of these friends who are attached to law and justice will grow and diversify when conditions become harsher.

Be sure that the Sahrawis today, led by the Frente POLISARIO, despite the ravages of war and the suffering of waiting in the occupied territories and southern Morocco, in the liberated territory and the refugee camps and in the diaspora, are unanimously attached to their scared national rights and to defending them by all legitimate means, until the completion of the sovereignty of the Sahrawi Republic on the entire national territory.

On behalf of the Sahrawi Government and people, I renew to you all our many thanks and gratitude for your historic and principled commitment to the just cause of the Sahrawi people, and I wish every success to this remarkable international platform of solidarity.

Peace be upon you and thank you!


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