Thursday, 10 December 2009

NEWS: "Women on the Frontline for Human Rights" (Amnesty International)

Amnesty International released the following piece (Dec 10) on three wonderful women who endanger their own lives to stand up for human rights. To read the whole article, click HERE:
"Aminatou Haidar, Western Saharan human rights defender who has been on hunger strike since 15 November to protest her expulsion from Laayoune in Western Sahara by the Moroccan authorities. She is currently stranded in Lanzarote airport in Spain’s Canary Islands.

"When I was 20 years old, I went through kidnapping and enforced disappearance. I spent about four years, having my eyes covered and without any trial…I went through different physical and psychological torture. After that, I was released and then I was subjected to continuous surveillance.

"In June 2005, I was tortured on the street; it caused me serious injury requiring (14 stitches and I had three broken ribs… I was again arrested based on a fake police report. I was tried and sentenced to seven months imprisonment that I spent in a prison called ‘Lakhal,’ prison in Laayoune.

"As women and mothers in Western Sahara, we are aware that we have a very difficult and important role; it is [to] educate our children to stick to the Sahrawi identity, Sahrawi culture and Sahrawi traditions. It is not an easy task and it is not a new issue. The Occupation is always trying to absorb the Sahrawi culture.

"It is very difficult for a Sahrawi woman, as a mentor to instil these values and at the same time be an activist outside of her home… It is hectic for a woman activist who works in the human rights field… The children are always very scared to loose their mother.

"This generation and the children [in Western Sahara] witness with their own eyes the police oppression… Just imagine many children instead of drawing toys; they draw a policeman with a gun and a stick beating people and people behind bars. I am scared that they will become violent and incite violence… because practicing violence, one day will incite violence.

"It is our role as human rights defenders to call for peace… but our means are very limited, we are not authorized even to organise workshops, trainings… Now it’s becoming more difficult…."

(Source: Amnesty International on December 10, 2009)

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