Western Sahara

Today the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies released its second annual report on the state of human rights in the Arab world for the year 2009.  The report, entitled Bastion of Impunity, Mirage of Reform, concludes that the human rights situation in the Arab region has deteriorated throughout the region over the last year. The report reviews the most significant developments in human rights during 2009 in 12 Arab countries: Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen. It also devotes separate chapters to the Arab League and an analysis of the performance of Arab governments in UN human rights institutions.

Aminatou Haidar, who is 42 and has two children, was detained at Laayoune airport, Western Sahara on 13 November when she returned from a month-long trip, to countries including the USA, where she accepted the 2009 Civil Courage Prize, which is awarded every year "for steadfast resistance to evil at great personal risk." She was questioned about why she had given her home as "Western Sahara" rather than "Moroccan Sahara" on her landing card; she was also asked about her travel, as well as her political opinions and affiliations.

La tension commence à monter entre l'Espagne et le Maroc au sujet d'Aminatou Haidar, une militante sahraouie qui observe, depuis le 16 novembre, une grève de la faim à l'aéroport de Lanzarote, aux Canaries, en Espagne, après avoir été expulsée du Maroc. Porte-voix des partisans de l'indépendance du Sahara occidental, cette femme de 42 ans a été arrêtée le 13 novembre à l'aéroport d'El-Ayoun, chef-lieu du Sahara occidental, à son retour d'un voyage à New York où elle a reçu, pour son action en faveur des droits de l'homme, le prestigieux Prix du courage civique de la Train Fundation. Sur sa fiche d'entrée, l'activiste avait inscrit qu'elle était résidente au Sahara occidental.

In the Middle East and North Africa, where political change occurs slowly, blogging has becomes a serious medium for social and political commentary as well as a target of government suppression, writes Mohamed Abdel Dayem. Before the June presidential election, the Iranian government blocked access to more than a dozen social networking sites and online news sources perceived as favoring opposition candidates. Hours before polls opened, SMS, or short message service for mobile phones, was disrupted and remained offline for weeks. The day after the election, the government shut down mobile phone service for an entire day.

Surnommée la Gandhi sahraouie, la militante a reçu de nombreuses distinctions internationales dédiées aux droits de l'homme. Expulsée du Maroc le 13 novembre, elle est en grève de la faim aux Canaries où elle s'est retrouvée contre son gré.  L'émergence, ces dernières années, de personnalités sahrouies comme Aminatou Haidar fait mal au régime marocain. Ces "activistes de l'intérieur", nouvelles références de la jeunesse sahraouie, se démarquent de la posture "guerrière" du Front Polisario en concentrant leur action sur la situation des droits de l'homme au Sahara-Occidental.

They call Aminatou Haidar the Gandhi of the Western Sahara. Haidar went on hunger strike 12 days ago after being expelled from her home and having her passport taken away by Morocco, which annexed the former Spanish colony in 1976. Her alleged crime was, that on returning from New York after picking up the Train Foundation civil courage award, she refused to fill in the citizenship line on her customs form and wrote "Western Sahara" on the address line.

Mme Haidar est une militante courageuse pour l’autodétermination du Sahara Occidental contre l’occupation par le Maroc, ainsi que contre les « disparitions » forcées et les violations commises contre les prisonniers de conscience.
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