Webinar: The situation of Sahrawi political prisoners during covid-19

Date, time: 29 May 2020, 13.00-13.45

Western Sahara was annexed by Morocco in 1975. Since then it has been the subject of a long-running territorial dispute between Morocco and its indigenous Sahrawi people, led by the Polisario Front. Tens of thousands of Sahrawi people still live under Moroccan occupation in Western Sahara. Their lives and activities are severely constricted by a harsh security state.

Sahrawi political activists are victims of violations, harassment and repression by Moroccan security services. Many of those have received long prison sentences. March 25th this year, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights appealed that political prisoners had to be released as part of the effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, there are still around 40 Sahrawi political prisoners in Moroccan prisons today. According to an appeal issued by 26 Sahrawi associations on April 24th, the detained Sahrawis are particularly vulnerable in regard to the current pandemic.

The prisoners are suffering from different forms of health issues after having been subjected to torture, medical negligence and living under inhumane conditions in prison. In 2002, the Rafto Prize was awarded to Sidi Mohammed Daddach, a Sahrawi human rights defender and former political prisoner. Daddach received the Prize for representing the Sahrawi people’s struggle for self-determination. We ask: How is COVID-19 affecting Sahrawi political prisoners? And is their situation left unnoticed during the pandemic?

Join a webinar on Zoom, together with Asria Mohamed, associate at the at the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara and Tone Sørfonn Moe, legal scholar and volunteer at the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara Støttekomiteen for Vest-Sahara. The moderator is Natalie Hellesø Milde.