Annan and the Moroccan POWs

By Khatry Beirouk

Morocco and the world &endash; for that matter - never cease to amaze me. I was already quite shocked when Morocco, quickly parroted by Mr. Annan, demanded Polisario's "release [of] all remaining prisoners of war without further delay." For one, Morocco intends that the Polisario lose its prestige and credibility as legitimate representative of the Saharawi people and therefore as leader of the Saharawis. How can the Polisario release prisoners of war who overran and occupied its country &endash; while thousands of its own people were forcibly exiled? Please can somebody break the news … there are more than 150,000 Saharawis who fled their country, due to Morocco's invasion, living under dire conditions in refugee camps. These refugees could have had a bright future, had this terrible rape of their land not been allowed to happen.

Could the UN ever straighten its priorities? How could Mr. Annan ask for the release of some 1,200 prisoners of war &endash; SOLDIERS who massacred, bombed and raped defenseless civilians &endash; while a whole people has been for more than a quarter century deprived from the right to live freely in their own country? Since these soldiers stormed Western Sahara, Saharawis have experienced daily humiliations and deprivations, living under inhuman and brutal rule, courtesy of the state of Morocco.

Annan's own institution called - on its time, in 1975- upon Morocco to immediately withdraw from the Territory of Western Sahara. How could Mohamed VI cry now injustice when Morocco - for more than twenty years- has been utterly and absolutely denying the existence of such prisoners? It's Morocco's own making and entire responsibility that these prisoners ended up as such. Does the UN want Saharawis to lose faith in the world itself as they see a vicious and flagrant violator of international law get away with it in the name of realpolitik and pure hypocrisy?

It still amazes me.

24 April 2002