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Pambazuka News 618: Special Issue: Western Sahara - Africa's last colony revisited

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Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839

CONTENTS: 1. Features


Western Sahara occupied, Africa re-colonised

Malainin Lakhal


cc M E
In introducing this second special issue on the occupied Western Sahara in Pambazuka News, Malainin Lakhal argues that it is ‘a subject that should concern all Africans, and all actors who know that Africa can never rise up as a Union or as a future power unless it jointly struggles for its freedom from poverty, ignorance, re-colonisation, foreign exploitation, internal rivalry, and lack of communication between all its peoples and elite.’

Africa’s longest and most forgotten territorial conflict

Aluat Hamudi


cc A D A
Despite wide international recognition, Western Sahara still remains under occupation because of a complex web of geopolitical and strategic interests of neighbouring countries and their Western allies

OAU/AU and the question of Western Sahara

Sidi M. Omar


cc E W
The continental body, which admitted Western Sahara to its membership in 1982, has consistently defended the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and independence. But Morocco has always proved to be cunning.

The question of Western Sahara: from impasse to independence

Pedro Pinto Leite and Jeffrey J. Smith


cc Globe
There is little hope for a genuine referendum on self-determination for the Sahrawi people. Their international supporters and the UN General Assembly should now work towards universal recognition and acceptance of the statehood of Western Sahara.

Public diplomacy and gender mainstreaming

An ethnographic exploration of Saharawi informal representation in Italy

Sonia Rossetti


cc C P
The Saharawi case represents a unique example of women’s inclusion in state-building for an Islamic government-in-exile.

Another Moroccan ‘coup de théâtre’

Konstantina Isidoros


© Konstantina
The latest trial has yet again stunned the world with regard to Morocco’s persistent audacity to blatantly defy international law, digging itself deeper into a geo-politically embarrassing legal ditch of its own making.

Letter to UN Security Council

Suzanne Scholte


cc J B
In this letter to the President of the UN Security Council, Seoul Peace Prize Laureate Suzanne Scholte urges the Council to prevail upon the King of Morocco to overturn the draconian sentences recently handed down to 24 Sahrawi activists

The EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement

POLISARIO brings an action against EU’s plunder before the European Court of Justice

Joanna Allan


Refugee Camps © Joanna Allan
Morocco is working in cahoots with the European Union to pillage Western Sahara’s fish despite opposition from the European people. The plunder is a crime under international law.

Human rights monitoring in Western Sahara

Thomas O’Bryan


cc C L
There are horrendous human rights violations in Western Sahara perpetrated by agents of the Moroccan authorities. But the UN mission has neither mandate nor capacity to monitor and document the violations.

A lawyer’s testimony to the UN

Comments of Katlyn Thomas before the Special Political and Decolonization Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, October 2012


cc AY
‘After examining every available legal argument to support Morocco’s presence in the territory we have come to the conclusion that Morocco cannot claim a legal right to the territory on the basis of any historic relationship it had with the territory prior to its colonization by Spain.’

The desperate fishermen

Khalil Asmar


cc D S
This short narrative of the diminishing optimism of several Saharawi fishermen casting their rods in the seas of the Western Sahara illustrates how the Moroccan authorities and EU fishing agreements have pillaged the seas and denied these fishermen not only hope but a livelihood

The valiant fisherman

Khalil Asmar


© Mohammed
In this interview with Mohammed El Baykam, a fisherman and the spokesman of the fisheries association in Dakhla, Western Sahara, his uncompromising determination to expose the plunder of European Union trawlers and those of the Moroccan authorities shows how his resistance has denied him gainful employment

Waiting for ‘istiftah’

Self-determination and independence of our homeland



cc Q V
Reflecting on her life as a refugee in the Tindouf camps Fatimetu contemplates how the Saharawi people are wholly dependent on humanitarian aid whilst Morocco exploits the wealth of the Western Sahara. For all Saharawis it is an independent homeland that they seek.

Three stories

Senia Bachir Abderahman


cc Q V
In this personal account refugee Senia Bachir Abderahman reflects on her own educational sojourn in Algeria and Norway, the cultural beauty of the El-melhfa fabric as well as those Cubaraui who left their homeland to study in Cuba and returned with considerable skills to help the Saharawis in their struggle for freedom

Do you have any idea what is ‘homeland’ for a refugee?

Asria Mohamed Taleb


cc M G
Many people may take for granted being the citizen of a free, sovereign nation. But for someone who was born in a refugee camp and has only heard about her occupied homeland, the question of citizenship stirs up very strong feelings.

The life of a Saharawi student

Mohamed Brahim


cc BBN
The Moroccan regime goes into appalling lengths to dehumanize Saharawi school children, even promoting drug use among them to break their resistance. But many of the children are increasingly politically conscious

My struggle to get a good education

Agaila Abba Hemieda


cc A M A R
Education is every child’s right. But for Saharawi children, getting an education may require making tremendous sacrifices, including prolonged separation from family and loss of culture and language.

Hoping for a UN spring

Salah Mohamed


cc IDS
Blatant violence against peacefully protesting Saharawis, official propaganda that misrepresents the situation in the occupied territory and blockage of independent external observers are just a few of the many dirty tactics employed by Morocco in Western Sahara. How long will this be allowed to go on?

Saharawi music and its role in the independence struggle

Violeta Ruano


© Violeta Ruano
Music and poetry have been key elements in Saharawi culture since nomadic times, when they were efficient ways of transmitting news and stories, providing entertainment and establishing links among the tribes. After Spain abandoned Western Sahara and Morocco and Mauritania invaded the territory in 1975, music became the voice of the revolution. It played an essential role in the formation and establishment of the new Saharawi Republic and the reshaping of the society. Music, thus, was used by the Saharawis to foster social change.

Studio-Live: Empowering Saharawi voices through music

Danielle Smith


cc Studio-Live
Setting up a music project in the Saharawi refugee camps in south-west Algeria may not seem to some an obvious priority for a population that relies largely on humanitarian aid for its survival. Yet that is precisely what London-based arts and human rights charity Sandblast has been hard at work doing since early 2010.

Morrocan theft of Saharawi culture

Said Zeroual and RuGaibi Abdullah Mohammed Sheikh


cc A A N
Morocco, which militarily controls Western Sahara since its occupation in 1975, is trying to present a false image of the situation in Western Sahara, taking advantage of the military siege and the media blockade imposed on the region.

Book Review of ‘Western Sahara: The Refugee Nation’

By Pablo San Martín. Iberian and Latin American Studies. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2010.

Anthony G. Pazzanita


cc E E
The book gives a credible history and analysis of the ways in which the Sahrawis, from Spanish colonial times to the present, have come to see themselves and have coped with the often-wrenching changes to their environment

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