Hayat Rguibi

Born  on  2  October  1990  in  Smara.  “I  have  2  sisters  and  5   brothers. They all took part in the Intifada. I studied at this college but in 2007 I was expelled from it and the following year I was forbidden to pursue my studies. This year I took them up again with some difficulty as I had to change establishment and I am now in 4th year at the Laayoune 3 College.”

N’Guia  El  Haouassi
Born  on  27  August  1990  in  Laayoune.  “I  have  5   brothers and 5 sisters, they were not all in the Intifada. I am in the 4th year class at the College Allal Ben Abdallah”.

They live in Laayoune, in Western Sahara administered by the Kingdom of Morocco and attended the same college in 2005. They have become firm friends since the start of the Intifada in May 2005. Both have heard all their lives members of their families complain about colonization, whether about relatives who have been victims of forced disappearance1, or the arrest of close relatives imprisoned for their ideas. In September 1999 they were small but they took part in the big sit-in which lasted 12 days with a thousand people who took turns living in tents pitched on a square and which finished under attack from the police in the middle of the night. They also experienced the enthusiasm of the crowd, which welcomed back Mohamed Daddach2 when he was released in November 2001. Hayat : “Then, when the opportunity presented itself in 2005, we were just waiting for that to shout out our  desire  for  freedom.”    In  2005  I  took  part  in  a  sit-in, which was on the  avenue  that  we  called  “Avenue   Sidi  Md  Daddach”.  There  was  an  enormous  crowd,  thousands  of  Saharawis  were  taking  part  of  all  ages,   women and men. It lasted from morning to night. In the evening there was repression by the police who dispersed the demonstrators. We were chanting slogans against the colonial occupation, we had a big feeling of rejecting the Moroccan   authorities,   that’s   why   we   insisted   on   the   departure   of   the   colonisers   and   our   wish   for  
1

In June 1991 King Hassan II released 321 people from secret prisons. It has been possible to account for 31 dead. But still today there remain 500 people whose fate has not been clarified. 2 Former death row prisoner for 24 years, Daddach was finally released following hunger strikes and international pressure.

independence. The Intifada gave us this courage to express  the  fact  that  we  didn’t  want  anything  other   than independence. All my personal projects stopped waiting for the liberation of my country. N’Guia  :  I participated like Hayat in this great sit-in. Then there was a demonstration to protest against the transfer of Saharawi political prisoners to prisons in Morocco. At college also we had sit-ins on Saturday after classes. There were repercussions because the Moroccan teachers became racist towards the Saharawi students taking part in them. Several Saharawi pupils gave up their studies because of this. It is different in the Lycée Lemsala where there is a majority of Saharawi pupils and teachers. But the management decided to change that by integrating Moroccan students and by transferring Saharawi students into  other  lycées.” In December 2008 one of my friends was arrested. He was 15 years old. He had leaflets on him, they took him to his house and searched the house. They found a computer that he was using to make the leaflets. The next day they arrested another who was not a college student. He was savagely tortured and gave the names of all the members of the group, including mine. On Tuesday 31 December, the police released them both and they came to inform me that I would certainly be arrested. On 5 January 2009, the day we went back to school, I saw that the police were present in larger numbers than usual around the college. I was  careful  and  hid  under  my  melafa  to  get  in,  but  then  I  couldn’t  leave   the college. Then my friends helped me escape through a window in the gym. This time I got away with it,  but  I  couldn’t  continue  to  do  the  same  every  day.  Then  I  decided  to  miss  classes  for  3  days  by  taking  a   medical certificate. The events in Gaza distracted the police on to another subject I brought the certificate to the chief supervisor who told me that he knew that I was mixed up in everything that went on  in  the  college;;  that  confirmed  to  me  that  management  had  given  my  timetable  to  the  police.” But there is another more painful experience she wants to talk about. In November 2008 some Italian parliamentarians came on a study mission. She met them but after their departure she was abducted by the police. “I  had  left  the  lycée  at  6pm.  A  police  car  was  following  me,  but  as  here  were  people  around  me,  friends, they did not dare arrest me. When I arrived in my area, Linaach, 3 policemen made me get into their green  van,  one  of  them  caught  me  by  the  arm,  his  nickname  is  “Moustache”.  Then  they  insulted  me  with   coarse  words  that  I  can’t  repeat.  They  threatened  me if  I  didn’t  stop  created  problems.  They  called  their   chief,  Aziz  ANNOUCHE  through  the  radio  to  announce  to  him  that  they  had  arrested  N’Guia.  He  told   them   to   bring   her  to   “the   same   place”.     When   we   arrived   at  the  river,   “Moustache”   said  to   me:   “You   want to have the same fate as the 15 disappeared3?”  If  you  don’t  stop  creating  problems  you  will  have   pins  holding  your  legs  up.”  Aziz  arrived  at  this  place  and  immediately  began  hitting  me  with  his  hands   while insulting me. Then he gave the order to others to continue to beat me, which they did, punching with their fists and kicking with their feet. After another officer who seemed a higher rank in the police came  and  they  presented  me  to  him  saying:  “Here’s  the  one  who  always  creates  problems  for  us.”  He   asked me to tell him everything about the meeting with the Italian parliamentarians : who was with them, who translated, who called me to come, with whom I came and who brought be back. They also asked me if the families of the 15 young disappeared were also present at the meeting. They asked me if I had any relations with Daddach, Ghalia, Dafa and they insisted on the names of people of the population who  were  present  and  who  are  not  known.  When  I  replied  that  I  didn’t  know,  the  highly  ranked  officer   gave the order to beat me up. At one moment they put a blindfold on my eyes and made me get up on a rock and threatened to make me fall into the river. They also asked me if I was preparing something for the arrival of the European Commission : “when  are  you  going  to organize a demonstration? In whose houses  will  you  hide?  Who  is  organizing  that?”

3

This refers to 15 young people who were preparing to go to the Canary Islands and who were abducted on 25.12.2005. They were carrying with them documents, photos, video, flags of the Intifada in May 2005. The police claim that they drowned, which the families deny as w have been contacted by their children and one witness told them that only one youth died.

Aziz ANNOUCHE ordered the policemen to make me get into the car. They took off the blindfold. They showed me a leaflet which carried a signature : Youth of the Revolution and two photos : that of Che Guevara and that of El Ouali Mustapha Sayed. They said it was me who had distributed this leaflet in the Mataala  quarter  and  that  they  had  seen  me.    I  defended  myself  saying:  “If  you  have  seen  me,  you  could   have arrested me in flagrante delicto. Besides I have no computer or printer, so how could I have done it?    He  said  to  me  “it  is  either  you  or  Hayat  or  Izana  Amaidan  who  has  distributed  this  leaflet.”  They  said   to  me  “Look,  the   Italians  have  gone  and  you  are  still  here,  what  use were the Italians to you? Tell us what  you  told  them.”  I  said  that  I  am  not  allowed  to  study  normally,  nor  to  walk  like  any  other  person,   that  they  are  always  following  me.  “Is  it  you  or  us  who  doesn’t  leave  the  other  alone?  You  don’t  leave  us   alone, you are holding demos everywhere such as the one for Hamdi Lembarki4. And they accused me of several other sit-ins that I had not organized. At that moment my family came to the police station but nobody gave them proper information. My father knew a policeman; he asked him if I was in this place. He looked everywhere and came back saying  that  I  wasn’t  there.  Several  members  of  the  family  and  friends  then  gathered  in  front  of  the  police   station. I think it was at that moment that the officers who were holding me received a radio appeal. They got back into their car and left me in this deserted place. It was between 9 and 10pm. I walked for a while and a person driving a Land Rover stopped to ask me what I was doing there. He saw the marks of the blows I had received, I told him everything and he took me near to the Hassan II hospital where he gave   me   10   dirhams   to   take   a   taxi   and   get   home   because   he   didn’t   dare   accompany   me.   I   called   my   parents from a telephone box so they could come and get me. The whole night a police car was circulating around the house, the police feared that a solidarity demonstration would happen. The next day I went to give testimony to the human rights defenders. The police sent a young pupil to tell me that they would not forget that testimony. Yesterday when I left college, Aziz ANNOUCHE, who was driving a Mercedes 190 registered abroad, stopped and came over to  me.  “You  gave  this  testimony?”  I  replied  that  I  only  knew  that  some  people  came  to  my  house  and   that it is their role as police  agents  to  know  who  it  was.” Now the management of the college accuse me of everything that happens in their establishment and I am thinking of changing college because of the pressure they are putting on me. Hayat : “I  was  arrested  with  another  young  person,  Sid  Ahmed  N’Dour  who  is  18  years  old,  a  pupil  at   the same college as me, on 17 February 2006, near the college Allal Ben Abdallah, it was 4pm. There were 11 policemen. They dragged me by the hair and made us get into the blue van. Their chief was Mustapha KAMOUR (today in charge of police in Tan Tan); They drove us to the river and once there they began to beat us up inside the van with batons and kicks. They beat us, insulted us to punish us for the sit-in at which we had taken part. After they threw me out of the car. I came home on foot. I met a car driven by a Saharawi and I asked him to drive me home to the Mataalla district. I had bruises on my face and body, legs, buttocks and a very bad headache. Sid  Ahmed  N’Dour  was  sentenced  to  6  months  in  prison  for  “inciting  violent  gatherings”. Since  I  have  been  arrested  4  times,  including  once  with  N’Guia  and  another  girl,  the  same  age  as  us.  It   was in May 2006 during a sit-in on Avenue Maghreb Arabe. They took us to the police station, they took off our melafas and blindfolded us. They took us to a room where they beat us, we were pulled by the hair. This went on for an hour and a half, then they began the interrogation. This concentrated on the organisers of the sit-in and the Saharawi human rights defenders  who  took  part  in  it.  We  said  we  didn’t   know their names. Then they undressed me and threatened to take photos and publish them on the internet. Someone came behind me, he took me by the shoulders to make me think he was going to rape me. I tried to push   him   away   saying:   “Imagine   it’s   your   sister   in   this   situation”.   He   told   me   not   to   mention his sister and they began to beat me. They asked me about my identity and discovered that I have a brother who had been arrested in Smara and Laayoune, which made them really angry with me. At one moment they gave me the telephone to call my parents and tell them that we had not been maltreated. I did the opposite and I said that they were torturing us. After that they continued with the beating to punish me for not having followed their orders. They then gave back my clothes and put us in
4

A youth assassinated after a peaceful demonstration in October 2005.

a room until 3 in the morning, when we were released. Another time in June 2008 they came at 10am to my home to take me to the police headquarters where they tied my feet then my hands behind my back. They tied them together with a pair of handcuffs attached to an iron bar; they put a blindfold over my eyes. They began the interrogation concerning a demonstration which had taken place the day before in the Mataala quarter. I lied and said  that  I  wasn’t   there. They were high ranking officers in the police. They thought I had joined an organization Youth of the Revolution of Che Guevara-El Ouali Mustapha Sayed. They had leaflets from this organization. When they began to question me at first  I  played  the  idiot.  They  asked  :  “Have  you  ideas  on  the  question   of  independence?”  and  said  that  we  are  ignorant,  that  there  is  no  relationship  between  Che  and  El  Ouali.   With patience they provoked me and I began to respond more seriously. I said that there was a historical relationship  between  the  two  struggles”:  Saharawi  independence  and  Che’s  revolution.  I  referred  to  early   incidents in the independence struggle. I spoke of the Moroccan invasion and war crimes, of bodies buried secretly. He was surprised by this change in the situation and about my political baggage, my knowledge of the whole history of the Saharawi people since the creation of the Polisario Front. After this interrogation I was under the escort of 3 policemen whenever I moved around the police station to another room or to go to the toilet. I had my eyes blindfolded from 10 am until midnight. Around 5pm I heard moaning from activists who had been arrested and were being tortured, I resisted in this position (on my knees with my feet and hands behind me, attached to the iron bar) until 11pm then I fainted. The police put perfume under my nose, they were no doubt frightened about what could happen. My  family  had  telephoned  the  police,  they  told  them  that  I  would  stay  there  until  N’Guia was arrested. After they received a phone call from Rabat and released me.

Laayoune 10 January 2009 Interview recorded by Michèle Decaster Secretary General of AFASPA

Association  Française  d’Amitié  et  de  Solidarité  avec  les  Peuples  d’Afrique 13 rue Pierre et Marie Curie 93170 Bagnolet – AFASPA@wanadoo.fr Site internet : www.afasap.com

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