By Anwar Kazaure for Veterans Today
Almost 5 years ago today, a top delegation of Sahrawi Freedom Fighters the Polissario Front visited Abuja and were received with the same hospitality we have always received those fighting for all that we hold dear, be it the MPLA Guerrillas of Cold War Angola or the heroic Comrades of Nelson Mandela; Anyone with the courage to demand the Freedom to live in his homeland with dignity and the Freedom to chart the course of his destiny. The Freedom which the forgotten people of Western Sahara yearn for is one that has been denied them for centuries, this is the uncensored story of the last African nation under an oppressive colonial subjugation that has no end in sight.
Although their inalienable rights were recognized by the United Nations in its Resolution 1979 and its Settlement Plan, even though everyone agrees that the Saharawi are a People with a unique history and distinct cultural identity deserving a State of their own in fulfillment of their aspirations and their fundamental Human right to Self-Determination, Western Sahara has been a victim of that malignant tyranny which is the enslavement of one People by another. Their voices had been silenced and their calls for justice marginalized by the indifference of the International community to the brutal military occupation of their homeland and its economic exploitation by the dictatorial Moroccan monarchy which has for so long suppressed the democratic will of its own population and that of the Sahrawis.
The tragic history of Western Sahara took a more disheartening turn in the 80′s when the desert country was invaded by Moroccan forces following the withdrawal of its ester-while Spanish colonizers, this then sparked a war between Morocco and Mauritania for the control of the territory; both met staunch resistance from the Polissario Front whose primary objective was the complete liberation of their country. They declared Independence and gained formal recognition from 82 UN member-states, essentially in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In Contrast, no signatory to the UN Charter recognizes Moroccan annexation or its Sovereignty over the Western Sahara.
It should be mentioned that the sudden Moroccan aggression against the Sahrawi people was a result of a deal stuck behind closed-doors between the Kingdom of Morocco and Spain, the former was asked to forget its claims to the Canary Islands which Spain had already annexed in return for Spain’s tacit recognition of its unjust claims and covert duplicity in the pursuit of its illegal designs on Western Sahara. This was the green light that Morocco needed, before long Western Sahara awaken to a new dawn which saw superior armed forces overran what little resistance the Saharawis where able muster without the means or armaments to wage this existential war.
As the Moroccan Monarchy gloried in its Imperial Conquest and began spreading its tentacles deeper into the mineral riches of Western Sahara, the more they became determined to keep all hopes of Freedom for the Sahrawis at bay. An uprising in Western Sahara by the Polissario Front saw Moroccan grip becoming more violent and bloody, about 20,000 people were killed in extra-judicial executions and thousands were detained indefinitely without charge. Further, mass population transfers and illegal settlements by Moroccan colonists mirrors the worst Israeli crimes in the Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Moroccans resorted to collective punishment of the civilian population with archaic and malevolent instruments of State Terror such as mass killings of non-combatants and even the use of Concentration Camps.
The long list of gross Human Rights violations and contempt for international law by the authoritarian monarchy of Morocco and the failure of the UN to bring them to account for past and on-going crimes in Western Sahara offers a unique insight into the double-standards that is undermining the foundations of global peace and security.
To be Continued, Insha Allah.