You are here: HomeNews2018 04 13Article 642936

General News of Friday, 13 April 2018


Ghana Forum on Western Sahara condemns arrest of 19 Saharawi activists

Social active group, Ghana Forum on Western Sahara, has strongly condemned what it describes as the harassment and intimidation being meted out on some Saharawi political activists.

According to a statement signed by the Ghana Forum on Western Sahara Secretary, Mohammed Shamsudeen Shardow, the 19 Saharawi activists, who are journalists and human rights defenders, have been jailed for charges of supposedly masterminding a protest in 2010 against the illegal Moroccan occupation in their country.

The group, has, therefore, called on all “freedom lovers” in Ghana to protest against systematic harassment of Moroccan held Sahrawi political prisoners.

Read the full statement below.

Ghana Forum on Western Sahara

PRESS STATEMENT: Forum urges people of Ghana to protest against systematic harassment of Moroccan held Saharawi political prisoners!

The Ghana Forum for Western Sahara urgently calls on all freedom lovers in Ghana to condemn the systematic harassment and intimidation currently being meted out to 19 Sahrawi activists who have been jailed for charges of supposedly masterminding a protest in 2010 against the illegal Moroccan occupation in their country.

The activists (journalists and human rights defenders) have been serving various jail terms including life imprisonment imposed on them by a military court, three years after their arrests and subsequent detention. It is sad to note that the minimum sentence handed down to these freedom fighters was twenty years. Following an international outcry on February 17, 2013, the case was reopened. After four years, On 19th July 2017, a civilian court relied on one-sided police reports to endorse the earlier military trial. International observers who monitored the trial complained of lack of a fair trial.

These ridiculous sentences were based on charges in connection with their alleged roles which sparked a massive protest involving more than 30,000 Sahrawi civilians. The protests took place in Gdeim Izik Peace Camp at Aaiun, a Western Sahara city illegally being occupied by Morocco against international law.

During the trial, the activists pleaded innocence and lamented of being tortured and mistreated over crimes they have not committed.

The forum has learnt that for the most part of their stay in prison, they had been subjected to various abuses including solitary confinement and have been denied access to their families and more importantly access to healthcare. Unable to endure the routine torture and harassment, in early March 2018, reports indicated they embarked on a hunger strike for two weeks.

While offering our solidarity to these prisoners of conscience and all other Saharawi political prisoners in Morocco, the Forum reiterates our earlier calls for:

1. The immediate and unconditional release of all Sahrawi political prisoners being held by the Moroccan authorities;

2. Urgently expand the mandate of United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara(MINURSO) to include rights monitoring mechanisms to protect human rights of suffering Saharawi civilians; and,

3. Holding of the much-awaited referendum for the self-determination of the people of Saharawi. In this regard, we support the current efforts of the UN special envoy for Western Sahara, Former German President, Mr. Horst Köhler. It is refreshing to note that the envoy is relaunching the negotiation process, interrupted by Morocco in 2012. We welcome this initiative to include all stakeholders such as the African Union, European Union and neighboring countries, among many others.

The Ghana Forum for Western Sahara was formed in Accra in 2010. It has a Steering Committee from a number of organizations including, Trade Union Congress, National Union of Ghana Students, Ghana Journalists Association, Socialist Forum of Ghana, among many others. It is chaired by respected Human Rights Lawyer, Akoto Ampaw.

Issued in Accra on April 10, 2018.For more information, please contact:

Mohammed Shamsudeen Shardow