By Danielle Minyemeck Africa News Network 24 5 December 2009
The Moroccan authorities confiscated Sahrawi human rights defender Aminatou Haidar’s passport on 13 November and expelled her from the country the following day, leaving her stranded in Lanzarote Airport, in Spain’s Canary Islands. She has been on hunger strike since November 15 in protest.
“The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Jean Ping, continues to monitor very closely developments in the Western Sahara, in particular as they relate to the human rights situation in the Territory, as well as to the specific case of the expulsion of Mrs. Aminatou Haidar, a Saharawi human rights activist,” said AU quoting Ping.
The Chairperson of the Commission joins other international actors in calling upon the Moroccan authorities to allow Mrs. Haidar to return to Western Sahara.
“He equally shares the concern expressed by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr.BAN Kimoon, in the face of the growing tension between the parties to the Western Sahara negotiations,” said the commission.
In this context, Ping recalls that, during its Special Session on the consideration and resolution of conflicts in Africa, held in Tripoli on 31 August 2009, the Assembly of Heads of State and Government expressed support to the ongoing United Nations efforts to overcome the current impasse and relevant UN Security Council resolutions, calling, to this end, for the intensification of efforts towards the holding of a referendum to enable the people of the Territory to choose between the option of independence and that of integration into the Kingdom of Morocco.
05.12 - 2009AU calls on Moroccan authorities to allow return of rights activist
Africa's last colony
Since 1975, three quarters of the Western Sahara territory has been illegally occupied by Morocco. The original population lives divided between those suffering human rights abuses under the Moroccan occupation and those living in exile in Algerian refugee camps. For more than 40 years, the Saharawi await the fulfilment of their legitimate right to self-determination.