Information - Saharawi Student prisoners Group Companions of El Uali | Western Sahara | Morocco

Information - Saharawi

Student prisoners
Group Companions of
El Uali
Isabel Lourenço
15th November 2017

Information - Saharawi Student prisoners 1

1. Introduction
2. Western Sahara Legal Status
3. Background
4. Accusations/Charges, evidence file, convictions
5. Arbitrary detention
6. Tortures
7. Hunger strikes
8. Conditions in Oudaya Prison

Annex I - List of Saharawi Students - political prisoners

Information - Saharawi Student prisoners 2
Information - Saharawi Student prisoners

1. Introduction
My name is Isabel Maria Gonçalves da Silva Tavares Lourenço, I have
Portuguese nationality, and am a member of Fundación Sahara Occidental
and collaborator of
Since February 2013 I attend the trials of Saharawi Political Prisoners as an
International Observer with accreditation from Fundación Sahara Occidental. In
2014 I have visited the occupied territories of Western Sahara and attended the
trials of 4 political prisoners in Western Sahara and one in Agadir, travelling from
El Aaiun to Rabat by the same route and in public transportation passing several
prisons throughout the way to size the difficulties and distances families have to
overcome and travel to see the Saharawi political prisoners. In Rabat I had
meetings with several embassies and also with a representative of the General
Administration of Penitentiaries and Social Reintegration. I stayed in the
apartment of the families of the Gdeim Izik group in Salé. In 2015 when I was
travelling to attend the trial of two Saharawi journalists that where illegally
detained I was expelled from El Aaiun Airport by force by the Moroccan
authorities without any explanation other that I was "persona non grata". A few
months afterwards I have attended another trial in Agadir, always under huge
pressure and surveillance. In 2016, 2016 and 2017 I continued to attend trial of
Saharawi political prisoners in Agadir and Salé, Rabat, as well as issued reports
on this matter and follow up with the families of the detainees the situation of
several prisoners. The situation of the group of Students held in Marrakesh, since
2016 , I have been following up through contacts with several organizations on
the ground as well as close relatives.

During all my visits police and other representative of the Moroccan authorities,
in uniform as well as in plain clothes, continually followed me. I was filmed and
photographed and even detained (2014), and my passport was repeatedly
taken for long periods of time by the police officers.

Information - Saharawi Student prisoners 3
These visits gave me an insight, and a very clear perspective of the current
situation in Western Sahara and the general feeling of the population, as well as
the situation of the political prisoners.

It is obvious that the occupation is only possible due to the huge presence of
military, police and auxiliary forces and their brutal tactics, and also due to the
fact that the international community is complicit with the silence about the
occupation and the stalemate in the United Nations Security Council.

26 years after the ceasefire that was never broken by the Saharawi, who resist
peacefully, the patience of the population is coming to an end and a peaceful
and just solution must be implemented in the last African colony.

As a Human Rights Activist I work with a number of Saharawi human rights
activists and Organizations who are based in the occupied territories of Western
and with Saharawi media and journalists that work mainly underground as is the
case of Equipe Media, RASD TV, Nouchaat, Bentili and others. My main goal is to
denounce the grave violations of human rights and all agreements and
covenants signed by the Moroccan Kingdom to decision makers and
authorities, and follow up on the situation of the political prisoners.

For the last four years I have been gathering information and denouncing the
situation of the Saharawi political prisoners in Moroccan jails in the occupied
territories as well as in the Kingdom of Morocco. My reports are based on direct
observation during trial and visits, interviews with family members of current
political prisoners, and ex-political prisoners, as well as several international
observers who attend trials of Saharawi political prisoners. In some cases it was
possible to have direct phone contact with Saharawi prisoners.
Arbitrary detention, abductions, ill-treatment and torture, are a reality vastly
documented by numerous national and international NGOs including Amnesty
International and Human Rights Watch and present in the reports submitted by
Mr. Christopher Ross, special envoy of the Secretary General the United Nations
and the 2013 report of special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman
or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez . Mr. Méndez reaffirmed

Information - Saharawi Student prisoners 4
in a press conference,1 on the 18th October 2016, in the UN headquarters in
New York , in answer to the question of InnerCityPress about torture of Saharawi
Political Prisoners, that it is a common practice in Morocco and his request for a
follow-up visit to Morocco and Western Sahara was unsuccessful.
Neither the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment, which Morocco ratified on 14 June 1993 nor the UN
Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners are respected in the case
of Saharawi political prisoners.
Western Sahara is illegally occupied by the Moroccan Kingdom and Saharawi
citizens are forced to carry Moroccan Identity and Passports, the whole judicial
process is corrupted from that start since Moroccan authorities have no legal
jurisdiction over the territory.

Saharawi citizens are abducted from their homeland by the occupying forces
and transferred to prisons in the Kingdom of Morocco, the legal procedures and
international requirements were not observed with the over 60 Saharawi political
prisoners that are currently in Moroccan jails, their trials were faulty, with no
evidences produced other than confessions obtained under torture. Currently
almost all Saharawi political prisoners are detained in the Kingdom of Morocco,
hundreds and thousands km from their homeland.

The present Information is far from exhaustive and gives only a partial view of the
continues and grave ill treatment the Saharawi Students, detained in Oudaya
Marrakesh were subjected to, as well as, the violations committed by the
Moroccan authorities in this case. The information gathered were verified with
CODAPSO, Mr. Sidi Haiba Habibi of the Saharawi League for the Defence of
Political Prisoners, Mr. Sidi Mohamed Balla of AFRAPEDESA, the Student
associations and family members, Mrs. Cristina Martinez Benítez de Lugo,
observer at the trial session of thw 9th of June and Mr. Emilio García, member of
SOGAPS and accredited as International Observer on the session of 13th of June
2017 as well information of the families of the detainees.


Information - Saharawi Student prisoners 5
2. Western Sahara Legal Status
In 1963 Western Sahara was listed as a non-self-governing territory by the United
Nations. In 1966 the United Nations General Assembly adopted its first resolution2
on the territory, urging Spain to organize, as soon as possible, a referendum
under UN supervision on the territory’s right to exercise its right to self-
determination. In 1975, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) rendered an
advisory opinion on the Western Sahara question, concluding by 14 votes to 2,
that while there had been pre-colonial ties between the territory of Western
Sahara and Morocco, these ties did not imply sovereignty.
Thus the Court has not found legal ties of such a nature as might affect the
application of resolution 1514 (XV) in the decolonization of Western Sahara and,
in particular, of the principle of self-determination through the free and genuine
expression of the will of the peoples of the Territory.3
Shortly thereafter, on 6 November, Morocco occupied and later annexed
Western Sahara, through the famous “Green march”. This constituted an act of
aggression in violation of the UN Charter. The same day, the UN Security Council,
in Resolution 380, called upon Morocco “immediately to withdraw all the
participants in the march.” Shortly thereafter, Morocco, Mauritania and the
colonial power, Spain, entered into an agreement, which in convoluted terms
transferred the administration of the territory to Morocco and Mauritania. The
agreement did not, however, transfer sovereignty explicitly. (Mauretania later
rescinded and left the whole territory to Morocco.)
The people of Western Sahara (the Saharawi) have a right to self-determination,
which can be fulfilled through the creation of a fully sovereign state, if they so
choose. Under that principle, they also have the right to “freely dispose of their
natural wealth and resources”.4 The Moroccan occupation and annexation of
the territory is a serious breach of International Law. Western Sahara is not a part
of Morocco and Morocco has no legal title or claim on the territory. Morocco
has an obligation to respect the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-

UN General Assembly, 1966, Resolution 2229 (XXI).
ICJ Reports, 1975, p. 68, para. 162.
Common Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Information - Saharawi Student prisoners 6
determination and to end its illegal annexation and occupation of Western

§ UN General Assembly 1966
"Invites the administering Power to determine at the earliest possible date, in
conformity with the aspirations of the indigenous people of Spanish Sahara and
in consultation with the Governments of Mauritania and Morocco and any other
interested party, the procedures for the holding of a referendum under United
Nations auspices with a view to enabling the indigenous population of the
Territory to exercise freely its right to self-determination and, to this end:
To create a favourable climate for the referendum to be conducted on an
entirely free, democratic and impartial basis, by permitting inter alia, the return
of exiles to the Territory;
To take all necessary steps to ensure that only indigenous people of the Territory
participate in the referendum;
To refrain from any action likely to delay the process of the decolonization of
Spanish Sahara; ..."

§ UN-Security Council, 1975 (after the "Green March")
"Call upon Morocco immediately to withdraw from the Territory of Western
Sahara all the participants in the march; ...."

§ UN Security Council, 1991
"Expresses its full support for the efforts of the Secretary-General for the
organization and the supervision, by the United Nations in cooperation with the
Organization of African Unity, of a referendum for self-determination of the
people of Western Sahara, in accordance with the objectives mentioned in this
report; ..."

§ UN-Security Council, 2013
"Reaffirming its commitment to assist the parties to achieve a just, lasting, and
mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-
determination of the people of Western Sahara in the context of arrangements
consistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations,
and noting the role and responsibilities of the parties in this respect, ..."

On 21 December 2016 the European Court of Justice delivered its judgment, 5in
the Appeal in Case C-104/16 P, under Article 56 of the Statute of the Court of


Information - Saharawi Student prisoners 7
Justice of the European Union, filed by the Council of the European Union on 19
February 2016, supported by some EU member states and the Commission, as
well as the Confédération marocaine de l’agriculture et du développement
rural (Comader), as interveners in the appeal, The Respondent in the
proceedings was Front Populaire pour la Libération de la Saguia-el-Hamra et du
Rio de Oro (Front Polisario), the applicant at first instance. The Appeal was
against the judgment of the first instance Court that annulled, as requested by
the Polisario Front, the Agreement between the European Union and the
Kingdom of Morocco concerning liberalization measures on agricultural and
fishery products from Morocco and Western Sahara European Court of Justice
found that the Agreement between Morocco and the EU Commission in the
form of an Exchange of Letters between the European Union and the Kingdom
of Morocco concerning reciprocal liberalization measures on agricultural
products, processed agricultural products, fish and fishery products applies only
to the internationally recognized borders of Morocco and does not apply to
Western Sahara. Furthermore, .the Court also found that Western Sahara is a
separate territory in North-West Africa, bordered by Morocco to the north,
Algeria to the north-east, Mauritania to the east and south and the Atlantic to
the west.

3. Background
In the occupied territories of Western Sahara there are no higher education
institutions of any kind. Those young people who wish to continue their studies
are forced to go to Universities and Institutes in the Moroccan Kingdom. This
forced displacement has from start a bias effect since the families have to
gathered the economical means to send their children to at least 620km to
Agadir the nearest University, which has a nucleus in Guelmin with only few

The majority of the Saharawi University Students are therefore in Agadir and
Marrakesh. Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, Pharmacy and aeronautics are
courses that are forbidden to the Saharawi Students.

In class the Students suffer discrimination and harassment. In the campus
university the Moroccan authorities raid their rooms frequently, destroying their

Saharawi Students are organized having groups inside each Campus to help

Information - Saharawi Student prisoners 8
them with logistical problems and harassment they suffer from the Moroccan
authorities and professors who try by all means to make their studies harder or
even impossible, in a clear apartheid tactic.
The Saharawi student movement also organizes non-violent protests and
demonstrations in the different campus, as well as in the occupied territories to
demand their rights as students and also the right to self-determination of the
Saharawi people.

The segregation of the Saharawi students is also evident in the fact that their
scholarship is identical to the Moroccan students who study in their own cities,
where they live, whilst the Saharawi have forcefully to displace themselves,
which represents a completely different economical effort.

In 2014/2015 the different student associations of the "Amazigh" (Moroccan
ethnicity), the Moroccan left wing youth organizations and the Saharawi
students associations had several meetings and worked together to achieve
improvements in the University life. This cooperation was not seen as positive by
the Moroccan authorities according to different NGO's, and therefore a
manoeuvre was started to bring a wedge between these organizations. In 2015
a student that was member of a left wing youth organization was killed in the
University of Fez.

In December 2015, Lazar Yahia, a Saharawi student of Marrakesh university was
brutally attacked with knifes and swords by a group of Amazigh students, he
had life threatening injuries and had to spend over 20 days in hospital. Racism
was the sole reason for this attack.

After this attack the Saharawi students in Marrakesh and Agadir discussed and
analysed the situation, and the escalation of racism and harassment against
them by Moroccan students.

The group that had injured Lazar Yahia enjoyed impunity and the Moroccan
authorities did not act to punish the act nor prevent future attacks. In light of this
the Saharawi students decided to make a non-violent sitting protest demanding
justice and denouncing the situation, in the campus of Marrakesh university on
the 23rd January 2016.

During the sitting protest several groups of Moroccan students arrived and
started a confrontation with the protesters, a fight broke out between the two
groups. Among the Moroccan groups was Omar Khalek, a Moroccan, who was
Information - Saharawi Student prisoners 9
not a student at the time in the University, but who joined the fight with his friends
and ended up dead. It is not possible to clarify how he died nor who the
perpetuators were.

In the aftermath over a dozen Saharawi Students and activists were detained in
the first trimester of 2016 and the following months.

The students denounced that their detention was mainly due to their political
beliefs towards the cause of Western Sahara. They were arrested and suffered
torture and ill treatment on the hands of the Moroccan police. In the absence
of a serious investigation and a fair trial, as well as the respect for their status as
political prisoners, they decided to enter several hunger strikes during their

The trial of theses students was postponed twelve times. The majority was in
prison for 501 days without trial, which is far more than allowed by Moroccan

4. Accusations/Charges, evidence file, convictions
The trial of the students was postponed 12 times before the proceedings started
on 9th of May 2017 in the court of Marrakesh. The prisoners were charged with
articles 392, 393, 394 and 395 of the Moroccan Penal Code, concerning murder
with the intent to kill and with sentences from life in prison to death penalty. This
charges were altered in the last trial session.

According to the declarations of Mrs Cristina Martinez Benítez de Lugo,
International Observer at the trial on May 9th, all the accused present, declared
their innocence, that they are pacifist and they are only detained due to their
political opinions and demand of the right to self-determination of the Saharawi
people. They also denounced that they had been tortured and that during the
police interrogation the question were only about their political beliefs and
actions. The accused also stated that they were only informed of the
accusation of murder by the judge. Some of them demanded a medical

Information - Saharawi Student prisoners 10
expertise to verify the tortures they were submitted to, this was denied by the

Abedmoula Elhafidi said that he was abducted in Boujador and that he was not
in Marrakesh on the 23rd of January, but in Agadir. He regretted that his
witnesses were not summoned to testify by the court.

During the session three of the accused had to leave the room since they were
4 Defense attorneys were present at this session.
The 4 International Observers present (Mustapha Mohamed; Fernando Magán,
Unai Orbegozo and Cristina Martínez) had difficulties to receive authorization to
enter and had to stand outside the court for over two hours, their translator was
not allowed to enter.
The trial was postponed to the 13th of June 2017. On the 13th of June, Mr. Emilio
García, accredited by Fundación Sahara Occidental, went to Marrakesh but
was not allowed to enter the court room as well as his translator, Mr. Sidi
Mohamed Balla. The trial was scheduled for 10 a.m. but the session started one
hour earlier, only so that the Judge informed that the trial would be postponed
to the 22nd of June. Mr. García wanted to contact with the defence lawyers
inside the court.
On the 22nd of June 2017 no International Observers were present, the trial
lasted for 8 hours, starting at 13h00. The charges presented were not the initial
ones, but instead murder without intent to kill, namely articles 401, 402 and 403
of the Moroccan Penal code with sentences between 2 to 20 years.
The lawyer of the civil party demanded that messages published in Facebook
would be included in the file of evidence but the court did not accept it. The
whole case was solely based on the minutes that were written by the police and
which the accused denounced as being false and signed under torture.
The trial ended with the sentencing of 4 accused to ten years in prison and 11 to
3 years in prison. Laghdaf Lakan and Mustafa Hmaidat had not been sentenced

Information - Saharawi Student prisoners 11
yet, since they were only detained in June 2017, they were released 4 month
Mr. Laghdaf Lakan was released on October, 20th 2017 with time served and
Mustafa Hmaidat on Ocotber 6th, 2017 also with time served.
Mr. Hassan Eraji, who was part of this group and arrested in May 2016, had been
released with time served in March 2017.
This was a first instance trial and the days after sentencing the prisoners received
a document to sign, in order to present an appeal.

5. Arbitrary detention
According to the information given by the detainees none of them were shown
any warrant for their detention when they were taken by the police nor any
warrant to enter their residences in the cases they were detained inside their
living quarters.
They accused were not informed about their rights when detained.

6. Tortures
The first group of 11 students detained in January 2016, denounced that they
were tortured during18 days, during which the police redacted the minutes that
are the base of this case, obtained false confessions and forced the signature of
the documents.
The remaining prisoners were tortured for the time span needed for them to sign
the minutes that were already redacted based on the minutes of the first group.
The tortures used were: grilled chicken; beating with batons, beating of the foot
soles, psychological torture and threats of sodomy and rape, sleep deprivation,
starvation, beatings with fists and boots in the whole body, including the head.

Information - Saharawi Student prisoners 12
7. Hunger strikes
The El Uali group made 4 hunger strikes during their detention so far. One of the
strikes lasted for over 40 days. The Students demanded medical attention,
improvement of their detention conditions in jail, treatment according to their
status as political prisoners, separation from the criminal offense inmates and
immediate release since they proclaim themselves innocent of all charges.

Azziz Wahidi, who has a degree, made an individual hunger strike that lasted for
53 day, demanding his right to continue his studies in prison to obtain his master.
The Moroccan authorities did not comply with his demand although it is a right
according to law.

Abedmoula Elhafidi made three individual hunger strikes demanding to see an
ophthalmologist since he has severe problems in his eyes.

8. Conditions in Oudaya Prison
The prisoners were in a very dire situation and only due to their hunger strikes
they were separated from the remaining prisoner and divided in two cells. One
cell with 7 members of this group and two Moroccan prisoners (non violent
offenders), and another cell with remaining members of the group and again
two non violent Moroccan prisoners.
Each of the prisoners sleeps in a bunk bed.
The family visits were extremely difficult at the beginning, and the visitation right
were not respected, being arbitrarily refused for several times. After the hunger
strikes visits from the families were normalized and at the present family members
may visit twice a week.
The prisoners denounced that they continue to have no medical care, several
of them have health issues due to the hunger strikes and due to the tortures they
have been submitted to.

Information - Saharawi Student prisoners 13
Annex I

List of Saharawi Students - political prisoners

Ahmed Abba Ali, detention No. 4327, student in Agadir, detained in Marrakesh,
responsible of contacts with Moroccan students and student groups born in
1992 in Tantan, arrested 24/01/2016; sentenced to 3 years

Mohammed Rgueibi, detention No. 4331, student in Agadir, detained in
Marrakesh, born in Guelmin in1994, arrested 24/01/2016; sentenced to 3 years

Ali Shargui, detention No. 4335, first year student in Agadir, detained in
Marrakesh, born in 1994 in Assa, arrested on 24/01/2016; sentenced to 3 years

Ibrahim Almasih detention No. 4329, student in Agadir, born in Assa in 1993,
arrested on 24/01/2016 in Marrakesh; sentenced to 3 years

Hamza Rami, detention No. 4330, student in Agadir, spokesperson of the
Saharawi Students in the Science university of Agadir, born in 1992 in El Aaiun,
arrested on 24/01/2016 in Marrakesh; sentenced to 3 years

Salek Baber, detention No. 4332, student in Agadir, born in 1993 in Tantan,
spokesperson of the first year Saharawi Students in Agadir, arrested on
24/01/2016 in Marrakesh; sentenced to 3 years

Mustafa Burkah, detention No. 4326, student in Agadir, born in Tantan in 1989,
arrested on 24/01/2016 in Marrakesh, sentenced to 3 years

El Kantaoui Albar, detention No. 4328, student in Marrakesh, coordinator of
Saharawi Students in Marrakesh, born in 1992 in Assa ,arrested on 24/01/2016 in
Marrakesh; sentenced to 10 years

Omar Laajna detention No.4325, student in Marrakesh, member of the Saharawi
student association, born in Tantan, arrested on 24/01/2016 in Marrakesch;
sentenced to 3 years

Information - Saharawi Student prisoners 14
Aziz Aluahidi, detention No. 4400, student in Agadir, member of the student
association of Agadir, born in 1989 in Emhamid Elghezlan, arrested on
06/02/2016; sentenced to 10 years

Mohammed Dada, student in Marrakesh, detention No. 4482, born in Smara
1993, arrested in El Aaiun 29/02/2016; sentenced to 10 years

Omar Beijni, student in Marrakesh detention No. 4661, born in 1991 in Guelmin,
arrested in El Aaiun 15/03/2016; sentenced to 3 years

Abedmoula Elhafidi, detention No.4780, student in Marrakesh, human rights
activist and former political prisoner, born in Boujador 1986, arrested on
16/04/2016 in Boujador; sentenced to 10 years

Nasser Amenkour, detention No. is not a student, he was in one of the sutdent
houses when he was arested El kantouai in marrakesh, 24/01/2016 , sentenced
to 3 years

El Wafi Wakari, detention No.4335 , student in Agadir (finished degree in prison),
political activist, born in 1990 in Assa, arrested on 01/2017; sentenced to 3 years

Laghdaf Lakan - detention no. , 1993 Zak, arrested in 06/2017 in Estaacoin bus
marrakech, student in Marrakesh - released in Ocotber 2017 with time served

Mustafa Hmaidat - student in Agadir born 1992 in Emhamid Elghezlan, no
detention 8516, arrested in 02/2017 in Emhamid Elghezlan - released in Ocotber
2017 with time served

Hassan Eraji, student in Marrakesh, born in El Aaiun in 1993, arrested on
19/05/2016 in Marrakesh - released in March 2017 with time served


Information - Saharawi Student prisoners 15
Abed Razak El Azouzi (AMDH) represents 11 accused
Mustafa Rachdi represents Abedmoula Elhafidi
Saída Ablagh represents Omar Beijni

Information - Saharawi Student prisoners 16

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