The Self-Determination of the Sahrawi People

Topics: Morocco, Human rights, Western Sahara Pages: 9 (3526 words) Published: December 13, 2012
The self-determination of the Sahrawi People
Western Sahara has been the focus of Human Right organizations for almost a decade. Reports of an array of human right abuses have been claimed mostly due to the militaristic policing of the displaced Sahrawi people caused by the Moroccan government. This paper will conduct an evaluation of the human right abuses and thus provide possible remedies to end them. First this paper will provide a brief summary of the highly complex history of the Sahrawi people. Second, the paper identifies the most pressing human right abuses in Western Sahara, and how the actors involved carry out or enable the continuance of the abuses. Third, this paper will determine that the human right abuses are in need of immediate attention primarily because of the growing threats of terrorism as a form of reaction by the Sahrawi youth. Lastly, this paper will argue for a combination of greater UN intervention and international economic coercion as the primary solutions to ending the human right abuses in Western Sahara. Background:

In 1885, the leaders of the western European powers convened at the Berlin Conference to formalize what is referred to as the Scramble for Africa. The African continent was divided by hand forming arbitrary borders that had no significance for the indigenous populations of the continent. There were many self-interested reasons amongst the concerned parties but the overall goal was to prevent conflict amongst the western claims to territory and ultimately raw materials on the African continent. Spain got what we know today as the Western Sahara. A nationalist movement took shape in neigbouring Morocco, leading to its independence in 1974. Morocco’s King, Hassam II, claimed that the regions of Western Sahara, Western Algeria and Northern Mauritania had been part of the kingdom of Morocco in its pre-colonial history. In November 1975, King Hassan II led the “Green March” of over 300,000 unarmed Moroccans to the disputed region. Spain reacted by placing its army on the Moroccan border as tensions grew with the Moroccan government. By early 1976, Spain abandoned Western Sahara following pressures from its allies, the US and France. This Spanish removal of their troops came to the surprise of the Sahrawi people as they lived under Spanish colonial authority of Western Sahara and thus believed that there right to self-determination would be encouraged and protected by Spain, as was the case with the newly independent nations of the continent. Within minutes of complete Spanish removal from Western Sahara, the Moroccan army begun to fill the vacant army posts and Western Sahara was now under the control of the Moroccan government. This marks the beginning of the claims of human rights abuses as the Moroccan authorities actively seek supporters of Sahrawi self-determination and subject them to torture and forced removals within the Moroccan controlled territory of Western Sahara. As a result the Sahrawi population is dispersed into three groups, those who seek asylum in Europe, those who remain under Moroccan control in Western Sahara and those who live in refugee camps across the Sahara, including Algeria. Human Rights abuses:

According to international law, Spain is still the administrative power of Western Sahara but have yet to exercise it since their exit in 1976. Morocco has assumed the right to govern the Moroccan controlled half of Western Sahara and in the process seeks to remove any attempts to preserve the culture of the Sahrawi people. As civil society grows, the push for independence is developing into a more organized approach in the form of political activism as many Sahrawi figures begin to take centre stage on the cause. A political activist growing in celebrity is Soukainajed Ahlou, as President of the Forum for Sahrawi women, she has led the fight for the Sahrawi people through organizing peaceful demonstrations in Moroccan controlled cities along the Western...
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