Ken Loach and Paul Laverty have long supported the peaceful Saharawi resistance to their Moroccan occupiers. They released the following statement on December 1, 2009 to the UK campaigners for Saharawi self-determination, namely the Western Sahara Campaign, the Free Western Sahara Network and Sandblast.
Statement concerning Saharawi human rights activists Aminatou Haidar (Dec 1, 2009)
Haidar's boarding card and Rosa Parks' seat
On December 1, 1955 in Montgommery, Alabama, Rosa Parks refused to obey a bus driver and give up her seat to a white passenger. On Friday, November 13, 2009, Aminatou Haidar refused to fill out her boarding card as instructed by the authorities in Laayoun (where she lives) in Morocco controlled Western Sahara.
Now, with growing horror, we watch the plight of Aminatou Haidar, mother of two small children, continue her hunger strike in Lanzarote Airport. Haidar, a life-long human rights activists for the Saharawi people, was thrown out of Morocco controlled Western Sahara by the authorities because she filled out her boarding card, (on her return from picking up a human rights award in the UK), with the words "Western Sahara" instead of Morocco. The Moroccan authorities said she had thereby waived her Moroccan citizenship, confiscated her passport, and then dumped her on a flight without any papers to Lanzarote against her willl, all of which breaks Article 12 of the International Convenant of Civil and Political Rights, which states "No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country".
At the heart of this dispute is Morocco's refusal to allow the Saharawi people the right to a referendum on self-determination following Spain giving up its colony in 1975. The United Nations and the international community, do not recognise de jure Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, but at the same time they keep silent while hundreds of thousands of Saharawis still languish in desert refugee camps for now over 34 years. In recent weeks Moroccan oppression against human rights activists has increased following King Mohammed VI vulgar George Bush-like speech when he said "...either a person is a Moroccan or is not... On is either patriot or a traitor. There is no half-way house...". Haidar and her arrested colleagues inside Morocco controlled Western Sahara are supporters of a non-violent solution to this long-standing problem. It is about time the International Community and especially Spain, whose silence over the year has been shameful, put pressure on Morocco to allow a fair and free democratic referendum, or once against must we see how mineral rights (massive phosphate deposits( and economic interests take precedence over human rights. It is perhaps wishful thinking to imagine that Haidar's boarding card could be equivalent to Rosa Parks not giving up her seat. But we live in hope and send our solidarity to this remarkable woman who, despite being "disappeared" for 4 years and tortured by the MOroccan authorities still has the courage to resist. But what a tragedy it would be for non-violent resistance, and to the possibility of a peaceful solution, if she is left to die.
We urge the Spanish government ot ensure the safe return of Aminatou to her homeland immediately.
Paul Laverty and Ken Loach.