The following account from an American living in the Sahrawi refugee camps near Tindouf, Agleria, is worth reading. It talks about reports reaching the Tindouf camps from the occupied territories of Western Sahara, where Morocco is busily (and violently) repressing dissenting Sahrawi after the setting up (by Sahrawi) and subsequent dispersal (by Moroccan forces) of the Gdaim Izik camp near the Western Saharan capital of El Aaiun. Gdaim Izik was set up by Sahrawi protesting against economic and social marginalisation in occupied territories, but it looks as if this socio-economic protest is becoming a nationalist issue as a result of the apparently brutal Moroccan response.
The account also describes how people in the Tindouf camps are reacting to the situation in the occupied territories. For a long time many exiled Sahrawi have thought that the peace process is going nowhere and the only way of confronting the occupation is through renewed military action against Morocco. One Sahrawi told me that “even if we can’t win, it is the only way of bringing any attention to our situation”.
The Polisario leadership has been trying to contain the feelings of those who want to renew the conflict, but it might prove difficult under the current circumstances, with people hearing of family members on the other side of the berm being beaten and killed by Moroccan forces, and pursued and attacked by Moroccan settlers encouraged by the Moroccan authorities. The one thing all parties involved in the conflict seem to agree on is that the continuation of this festering conflict increases the risk of radicalisation of young Sahrawi in the camps (this also applies to those living under occupation no doubt). This also won’t be helped by the current situation.
Read the account from inside the Tindouf camps here. While they may need further confirmation, reports of thousands of people “disappeared”, mass graves, bodies dropped from helicopters into the sea, and the expulsion of journalists should be cause for serious concern and some concerted action on the part of the lethargic international community. I’m hesitant to employ the over-used term “genocide”, but reading about the reports coming in from the occupied territories of Western Sahara, the word is hovering in my consciousness. The account speaks for itself, whatever your views of the religious credentials of the publisher.
More recent (Tuesday 16 November) coverage from the UK Guardian newspaper here.