Confidence-building measures and Saharawis' right to silence!!

Malainine Lakhal

United Nations had "succeeded" at last in convincing Morocco to start the implementation of one of the so awaited for "confidence-building measures", to talk about the recently reunion of Saharawi families, so longly separated by the Moroccan military wall of shame, and by Moroccan occupation and illegal annexation of occupied Western Sahara.

UNHCR, so proudly announced the starting of the visits, and the first exchange had in fact been fulfilled. But what is the price Saharawis are or should pay for it?

At first, Morocco tried its best to control the whole "initiative", trying to have the right to receive and gather Saharawis coming from refugees camps in special hotels, where Moroccan authorities can control, blackmail and try to "buy", if possible, the weakest visitors (as Morocco always tried to "work" on the sufferings and weariness of some Saharawis tired of the years of conflict and struggle). But the Makhzen (Moroccan old mixture of authority, palace, upper class, torturers and obedient subjects of the dictatorship) failed to.

Still, it succeeded in imposing a strange condition to allow Saharawi to visit their illegally occupied territory, and their so badly missed relatives, fathers and mothers. "Morocco, and unfortunately, UNHCR too (maybe also many emotional friends), ask all the candidates to keep quiet, and to give up any thought of expressing their rejection of Moroccan colonialism, any thought of saying that they are coming to their Western Sahara, any shadow of a thought to express a political opinion, no matter how peaceful the way used to express it, you are here to visit your families, for five days, to keep quiet and polite and then go back to your refugees" tents. You only have the right to keep silent, this is the new rights-teaching measures, made in UN.

Is this strange!
It is not! Says UNHCR, because, actually the visits are a "humanitarian" operation, and this means (as far as I can understand from insisting on forbidding the right to free expression), that the visitor has to forget that he is a human being, who had been deprived from the right to freely live on his free land, who was pushed to flee his country because of a barbarous military invasion, who was pushed to kill and to learn how to survive instead of to love and prosper as a normal human being, who was forced to live as a refugee against his will, and still from time to time "blackmailed" (is it a strong word!) by some international organisations which wants him to concede such or such compromise, or we will cut the humanitarian aid!!

Is it strange? I think it is.
Because, while excitedly following the news, as everybody else, I heard about the "dangerous" violation of silence one of the visitors seems to have "commited". Ould ARRIR, said, according, to non-official sources (the most reliable, most of the time) that the initiative is a very good one but that it will remain incomplete before the full and complete independence of occupied Western Sahara, and before the achievement of the national struggle for freedom.

Dangerous statement, it was said, a political use of the visit !! But are they serious saying this, I wonder!!
Have not we the right to say that we believe and struggle for our right to self-determination? Are not we expected to decide over the future of Western Sahara via a referendum supervised by UN and considered by the international community as the logical, fair solution to the conflict? And, the man did not demonstrated, he did not organise a press conference, to launch this "dangerous" statement, he was pushed to, instead, because Moroccans, as usual, brought some journalists to receive the visitors, hoping that some of them join or thank or give up their convictions, only because Moroccan authorities "accepted" to let them visit their country, for five days, under police surveillance, their families already intimidated, warned and maybe threatened.

Further, how could anybody ask a man who spent the spring of his life fighting for freedom, in the most inhuman conditions, to see the invaders of his land settling in his homeland, raising their flag on the very airport he is supposed to land in before seeing his family?

Is not this a Moroccan political violation of the "humanitarian initiative", or does Morocco have the right to receive the visitors with its famous arrogance, saying in action and in fait accompli that it will continue occupying Western Sahara, under the sight of the whole world, and in violation of all laws? Rejecting any "discussion" of the "Moroccan-ness" of the so called "Moroccan Sahara"? Intimidating Saharawi human rights activists, and Saharawi standard citizen? How could one explain the over presence of Moroccan DST, DRG, and other secret police corps in the airport, escorting every visitor, and intimidating a whole people? It seems that these are normal legal acts, if we consider the way UN soft dealing with these violations, oh pardon; maybe they will prefer "occupation-legitimisation measures".

A lot of deception we feel. A lot of sadness to see that international community, and one of its representative (HCR a UN's organisation) submit to Moroccan arrogance, and asks the victims to accept, and to follow the rules, no matter how stupid, and illegal (at least as far I consider) they are. It is a shame to see the international community helpless in front of flagrant Moroccan violations of human rights, while it (the same international community) asks Saharawis, to visit their land for short, silently, or the whole "humanitarian" operation will fail.

But for how much time will these visits continue? (Moroccans say that they will continue for 6 months, with a lot of other generous "gifts" you can find out by reading this arrogant dispatch! I think that they will stop as soon as Moroccans discover that the ones they used to call "Moroccans sequestered in the camps" still reject occupation and still prefer exile to the Moroccan imposed nationality.

Well, you know what, I have better to stop here, because I still did not have "permission" to visit my own family, and I better keep quiet or this opinion will be considered as a "political" violation of the only right UNHCR seems to have to offer me: the right to keep silent!!!

Bitterly yours,

Malainin Lakhal