Photo by Simona Ghizzoni / Contrasto

There are 24. They are Sahrawi. They have been in prison for two years in Saleh, Morocco, accused of conspiracy and multiple homicide. Two years without an interrogation, hearing, or a draft of trial proceedings.
Ennaama Asfari and the 23 others were arrested in Western Sahara following the incidents at Gdeim Izik, the encampment set up in the desert by the Sahrawi protesting against Morocco for more rights, equality and democracy. 

The date was October 2010 and Gdeim Izik, as I have already mentioned, has been suggested to be the prelude to the Arab Spring. A peaceful protest suffocated on November 8, 2010, when the Moroccan Army and Special Forces dismantled the camp igniting a threat that within a few short days fueled the main cities in Western Sahara. 
According to Moroccan officials, there were about ten deaths and hundreds of wounded among the security forces but the identity of only one victim was made public. The Sahrawi activists reported the deaths and disappearances of dozens of their people.
Immediately following the fires set at Gdeim Izik, many international observers and journalists were prohibited from entering Western Sahara. And Morocco refused to open an international investigation on the event that remains to this day mysteriously emblematic and vague.
This morning I wanted to post something on the trial beginning in Rabat. The 24 Sahrawi prisoners have been waiting to stand trial before the Military Court for a very long time, two years. A trial that should have begun last January when I was in Western Sahara speaking with Brahim Dahane, a long-standing activist for Sahrawi human rights under Moroccan occupation. A courteous and calm man who has been in and out of prison for the past twenty years and is considered public enemy number one in the city of Laayoune by the Moroccan authorities.
That day, Brahim was driving to Rabat to attend the first trial of the proceedings. When I went to lunch at his house two days later, he told me that the trial had been postponed to an indefinite date. They were all concerned about the conditions of imprisonment of the detainees who under the Moroccan Penal Code risk the death penalty.
There won’t be a trial in Rabat today either. Brahim Dahane’s group ASVDH (Sahrawi Association of Victims of Grave Human Rights) wrote to me this morning to say that the Moroccan martial court adjourned sine die. The prosecutor explained that the trial was postponed because he had not had sufficient time to examine the case, in particular the case regarding Lbakai Laarabi.
“Why must civilians be tried in a military court?” Brahim Dahane asks. “According to Moroccan law,” the activist notes, “ you can’t keep someone in prison for more than a year without a trial. The Moroccan State, therefore, is going against its own laws.”
International observers from all over Europe are expected to arrive in Rabat. Judge Nicola Quatrano from Naples and the lawyer Roberta Bussolari from Modena are arriving from Italy. They have stressed the numerous blatant ambiguities contained in the charges. The international civic movement Avaaz has launched an online petition to send the Moroccan government 2,000 signatures demanding a rapid and fair trial for the 24 prisoners.
Another dark chapter, terribly forgotten, in the history of the Sahara people.

Support our documentary on the Sahrawi woman at the site


Post più popolari