The Western Sahara


Ali Salem Tamek
Assa, Morocco -
Ali Salem Tamek, born December 1973, is a Sahrawi independence activist, human rights defender and trade unionist. He has emerged as one of the most outspoken Sahrawi dissidents under Moroccan rule. He is vice president of the Collective of Sahrawi Human Rights Defenders (CODESA). He was active in Moroccan trade unions and leftist Moroccan spheres. Tamek wishes Western Sahara to become an independent state under the auspices of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. He has been the target of smear campaigns in the Moroccan press and complains of politically motivated harassment and threats to his life and family. Tamek completed final secondary-school examinations in 2007 in Morocco but was not allowed by the Moroccan authorities to study law and journalism. Photo courtesy of http://www.demainonline.com/wp-content/uploads/Ali-Salem-Tamek1.jpg
 

Aminatou Haidar
Tata Province, Morocco -
Aminatou Haidar, born July 24, 1966, is a Sahrawi human rights activist and an advocate of the independence of Western Sahara. She is often called the "Sahrawki Gandhi" for her nonviolent protests. She is the president of the Collective of Sahrawi Human Rights Defenders (CODESA). She was imprisoned from 1987 to 1991 and from 2005 to 2006 on charges related to her independence advocacy. She staged a hunger strike in Manzarote Airport in 2009 after being denied re-entry into Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara. In 2012, she was nominated to the Nobel Peace Prize. Photo courtesy of http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/files/images/cases/aminatou_haidar.jpg
 

Brahim Dahane
El Aaiún, The Western Sahara -
Brahim Dahane, born in 1965, is a Sahrawi human rights activist and President of the Sahrawi Association of Victims of Grave Human Rights Violations Committed by the Moroccan State (ASVDH), a human rights organization banned by Morocco. He was forced to secret detention in 1987 after peacefully demanding the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination. In 2005, he was detained for protesting police brutality during the anti-occupation protests that broke out in El Aaiun in May 2005. He was later charged with belonging to an illegal organization. Dahane won the Per Anger Award for human rights in 2009. Photo courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Brahim_dahane.jpg
 

Mohamed Cheikh Elmoutaoikil
Assa, Morocco -
Mohamed Elmoutaoikil, born October 10, 1966, is a Sahrawi human rights activist working in Western Sahara and Morocco. He is a member of the Collective of Sahrawi Human Rights Defenders (CODESA). He has a BA in geology. He was jailed after he was arrested during the 2005 "Independence Intifada". He was jailed in 1992 for one year and was later arrested several more times. He worked as a civil servant in Casablanca (he was the secretary general of the municipality of Ben Msik, in Casablanca, in 2001). Previously, he had been secretary general of Assa's municipality, before being forced by Moroccan authorities to flee from Assa to Casablanca. In 1992, he was sentenced to a year's imprisonment, for participating in the September 24 peaceful political demonstration to demand self-determination for the people of Western Sahara, in his hometown of Assa. He passed his sentence at Inzegane prison. He had been a member of the Sahrawi branch of the human rights organization Forum for Truth and Justice until its illegalization and dissolution by the Moroccan authorities. He is currently a member of the Casablanca-based Forum for Truth and Justice section that remains a legally registered association. Elmoutaoikil was arrested again on July 20, 2005 at his house in Casablanca. Photo courtesy of http://www.arso.org/Elmout.jpg
 

Muhammad Sidi Brahim Sidi Embarek Basir
Tan-Tan, Morocco -
Muhammad Basir, born in the 1940s, was a Sahrawi nationalist leader, who disappeared and presumedly executed by the Spanish Legion in June 1970. In 1957, he left his home to attend school in Marrakesh and proceeded to study the Qur'an and Arabic in Cairo and Journalism in Syria. On returning to Morocco in 1966, he founded Al-Shihab, a Sahrawi nationalist newspaper. He also worked as a journalist in Casablanca. He started to organize the anti-colonial movement known as the movement of liberation, calling for an end to the Spanish occupation of the Sahara. Basir stressed non-violence and wanted to bring about change through democratic action. In 1970, the organization appeared openly in a peaceful demonstration against the Spanish rule, asking for autonomy and self-determination. Present-day Sahrawi nationalists honor him as the father of the modern Sahrawi independence struggle. Photo courtesy of http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/84/Bassiri_June_1970.jpg
 

Sidi Mohammed Daddach
Guelta Zemmur, The Western Sahara -
Sidi Mohammed Daddach, born in 1957, is a Sahrawi human rights activist imprisoned for 24 years. He is often called the "North African Mandela" or "Sahrawi Mandela". In 1973, he joined the Polisario Front, the Western Sahara national liberation movement. After two years of imprisonment (first in a military base in Marrakech, then in a subterranean cell), he was forced to join the Moroccan Army. Daddach was again arrested & badly injured in August 1979, when he tried to defect with other soldiers and was sentenced to death on April 7, 1980 for high treason. In 1994, his death sentence was reduced to life imprisonment, In 2001, he was freed following a royal amnesty by Mohammed VI of Morocco, who described it as coming from "affection for the sons of the Sahara". In 2002, Daddach was awarded the Rafto Prize for his efforts. Photo courtesy of http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-tVy_oqZzhlQ/UNWsaBJfcII/AAAAAAAAHi4/6h7j9rPKWAs/s1600/SidiMohammedDaddach.jpg
 

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