Rebels condemn Morocco’s 'repression'
Sat May 4, 2013 3:29AM
The Polisario Front fought a guerrilla war against Moroccan forces until 1991, when the United Nations mediated a ceasefire between the two sides with the agreement that a referendum would be held to determine the final status of the territory. However, the referendum has never been held.The Polisario Front rebels have denounced Morocco's "systematic repression" in Western Sahara and called on the United Nations Security Council to apply a new resolution urging greater efforts on human rights. "The Sahrawi government vigorously denounces the systematic repression of peaceful Sahrawi protests in the occupied territories of the Western Sahara... and calls on the Security Council to ensure the application of its latest resolution," the Polisario Front said in a statement on Friday. The group has been working for Western Sahara’s independence from Morocco for decades. On April 25, the Security Council passed Resolution 2099, which extended the UN peacekeeping mission for the former Spanish colony for another year and called on Morocco and the Polisario Front to make efforts to promote human rights in Western Sahara. The Polisario Front claimed that the resolution was "violated by the Moroccan colonizer less than 24 hours after its adoption," and condemned the "brutal treatment inflicted on around 40 Sahrawi protesters by the Moroccan police" in Laayoune on April 26. According to an Amnesty International representative, the Moroccan police used "excessive force" to disperse hundreds of peaceful protesters in Laayoune, Western Sahara's main city, and injured at least 30 protesters. However, according to a Moroccan police statement, the "events" in Laayoune had left 70 people wounded, including members of the security forces. It added that during the pro-independence protests "there were violations, including blocking a public road, aggression towards members of the security forces and the use of petrol bombs, causing damage to public and private property." Western Sahara is a disputed territory in North Africa, bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the northeast, Mauritania to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The African nations have frequently demanded that UN peacekeepers should be tasked with monitoring alleged human rights abuses in the thinly populated tract of desert that has phosphates, fisheries and, most likely, oil and gas. However, Morocco and France have repeatedly opposed the proposal. Rabat maintains that the territory should come under its sovereignty, but the Polisario Front says it is a sovereign state. The Polisario Front fought a guerrilla war against Moroccan forces until 1991, when the United Nations mediated a ceasefire between the two sides with the agreement that a referendum would be held to determine the final status of the territory. However, the referendum has never been held. GJH/HN