Sahrawi political prisoners denounce torture by the old Moroccan State

We share an unofficial translation of an article republish by Servir al Pueblo.

The League for the Protection of Sahrawi Prisoners (LPPS) details in its report corresponding to 2023 the refusal of the Moroccan State to respect its legal and international obligations in matters of Human Rights and the repression suffered by Sahrawi prisoners. Most of them are placed more than 1,000 kilometers from their families and their homeland, Western Sahara, occupied by Morocco.

The LPPS considers that the transfer of Sahrawi prisoners to Moroccan prisons is “a form of revenge against them and their families and a flagrant violation of the spirit of International Law, in particular the Geneva Conventions relating to detainees in occupied territories.”

The difficult living conditions of the Sahrawi inmates constitute a crime “equivalent to crimes against humanity,” particularly given the contempt for life shown by the Moroccan prison administration, which “ignores the legitimate complaints of the Sahrawi inmates” and does not comply with its obligations”, says the League.

In front of this, it calls for urgent international intervention to prevent Morocco from transferring Sahrawi political prisoners to prisons placed in Morocco, thereby expelling them from their homeland, violating their status as citizens of an occupied territory.

From the Moroccan prisons in which there are Saharawi political prisoners are located six of them are between 922 and 1,218 kilometers and other four between 320 and 640 kilometers from El Aaiún, the capital of Western Sahara.

The report details cases of the anomalous situation of Sahrawi prisoners: lack of health care, non-compliance with the right to visit family members and lawyers, mistreatment and the use of force by prison staff, inhumane conditions in isolation cells, prohibition and confiscation of assets and impediments to carry out studies.

In front of this situations of repression, the Sahrawi prisoners resorted to the only weapon of struggle they have in their hands, the hunger strike. In 2023 the LPPS recorded a total of 23 hunger strikes, which lasted between 48 hours and 36 continuous days. In most cases, the strikes ended after the prison management promised to respond to their demands, which they often failed to accomplish.

The LPPS considers that international organizations must protect Sahrawi political prisoners and that the International Committee of the Red Cross has to assume its responsibility with Sahrawi prisoners” giving their legal status as citizens of a territory occupied by military force.”

It also calls to pressure the Moroccan State to end the detention of Sahrawi activists, whose right to a just trial must be guaranteed by an independent international mechanism, and calls on the African Union to pressure Morocco to release the Sahrawi political prisoners.

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