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Published on 18/01/2022 by PCF

At the initiative of Jean-Paul Lecoq, France’s policy finally passes through the sieve of parliamentary control.

The Communist deputy for the Seine-Maritime, Jean-Paul Lecoq, has once again taken a remarkable initiative in the context of the “control week” in the National Assembly. The aim was to establish the results of France’s actions to ensure respect for international law on the issue of Western Sahara. A large presence of MPs with different political backgrounds reflects concern about the deterioration of the situation.

The interventions of Claude Mangin, human rights activist and wife of Sahrawi political prisoner Naama Asfari, by Gilles Devers, lawyer from the Polisario Front, and Oubi Bouchraya Bachir, representative of the Polisario Front in Brussels, as well as questions from parliamentarians allowed to shed light on the problems.

This session, for the first time, provided space for the Sahrawis and their supporters to present their arguments to both the President’s majority and the Minister present. In fact, the systematic rejection of the hearing of the representatives of the Sahrawi people or even the raising of the issue in the Foreign Affairs Committee prevents an informed parliamentary debate and nurtures the idea, despite international law, that the Sahara westerner would already be Moroccan.

This consultation showed that the Sahrawi case has its place in other international fora such as the African Union (AU) or the European Union (EU).

This two-hour session encouraged very rich and formative exchanges for some deputies of the majority, who pursue a line of strong support for the Moroccan regime in its desire to definitively integrate the territories belonging to the Sahrawi people.

What does international law say

Inscribed on the list of territories to be decolonized by the UN, Western Sahara must see its people benefit from the principle of the right to self-determination and the power to express themselves on the issue of their sovereignty through a referendum on self-determination. Since 1976, however, this former Spanish protectorate has been under Moroccan occupation. The colonization of 80% of Sahrawi territory, condemned by the UN, provoked an armed conflict with the Polisario Front, a recognized representative of the Sahrawi people.

In the late 1980s, the Polisario Front agreed to a ceasefire to allow the creation of the United Nations Mission for the Western Sahara (Minurso) referendum. Since then, Morocco has remained unpunished for defying the international community by refusing to resolve the conflict on the basis of the law. King Mohammed VI recently declared that “nothing is negotiable”, openly disregarding UN Security Council resolutions.

However, the Polisario Front did not skimp on its efforts, accepting J. Becker’s plan (2003) or making a seven-point offer guaranteeing Morocco in the event that the referendum would lead to independence (2007). Rabat ignored these proposals and bore full responsibility for the failure of the peace process.

Following the brutal intervention of the Moroccan army at the Guerguerat border post on 13 November 2021, the ceasefire was broken after 30 years of waiting for the organization of the self-determination vote, leading to a return to basics and increased regional instability.

As Oubi Bouchraya Bachir, representative of the Polisario Front in Brussels, pointed out, Morocco’s “arrogance, irreconcilability, extremism and belligerent attitude” are also the result of Rabat’s long-standing involvement in France and the United States.

France’s specific responsibilities

Paris bears a very heavy responsibility in the current situation, having supported the Moroccan invasion and encouraged Morocco in its opposition to international legality. Now, in the UN Security Council, the French government rejects any prospect of a referendum and has even slammed the threat of using its veto. In the same way, Paris worked to sabotage Minurso’s initiatives and to torpedo all initiatives from the UN Secretary – General’s Special Envoy, Horst Kohler, who had to resign in 2019.
Paris weighed in with all its weight to prevent the extension of Minurso’s powers to human rights monitoring. This obstacle has serious consequences which the collapse of the ceasefire has exacerbated.

At EU level, France is a leader in circumventing the various rulings of the European Court of Justice, which in September 2021 annulled several partnership agreements between Morocco and the EU, granting tariff preferences for products from the occupied Sahrawi territories. . The same is true of the fisheries agreements that sanctioned Moroccan colonial looting.

Moreover, Paris goes to great lengths to defend Morocco’s unilateral and illegal proposal for autonomy, which is in no way a solution insofar as it inaugurates Morocco’s sovereignty and is in direct conflict with international law. However, the only compromise solution, in accordance with law and democracy, is the organization of a referendum on self-determination.

Contrary to his claim to have a “balanced stance”, Paris took up the matter with the Rabat regime, going so far as to completely sever its ties with the Polisario Front, thus managing to reduce the conflict to military confrontations and troubled neighbors. in the region. Such blindness fuels tensions with consequences that can be irreparable.

Oppression and human rights violations

Human rights violations are a constant part of the Moroccan occupation in the occupied Saharawi territories, but they have increased with the resumption of hostilities. This worrying escalation affects the activities of human rights defenders, their associations, their social organizations, their trade unions, Sahrawi activists, as well as the families of prisoners exposed to violence by security forces, plainclothes agents and para-police in an atmosphere of increased militarization.

In one year, 160 human rights violations have been listed, a number far below reality, insofar as the whole area is banned for NGOs and foreign journalists. Cities, like rural areas, live under this leaden screed.
Violations of civil and political rights concern the prohibition of movement, assembly, assembly, utterance, but also house arrest. Attacks on local media and journalists are unheard of brutality.

Morocco is a former master of illegal raids, destruction of property or livestock by nomads, forced evictions, intrusion into homes – with water outages, electricity or jets of chemicals!

All evidence converges to confirm that prisoners, including women and minors, are victims of degrading and inhuman treatment, corporal punishment, mutilation, sexual violence and torture.

A justice system allows arbitrary detentions and false trials that sentence Sahrawi activists to very harsh sentences and especially those of Gdeim Izik, who was imprisoned after a riot in 2010. In solitary confinement, deprived of care and visits, many prisoners are now between life and death. These human rights violations, the summary executions of civilians, are tantamount to war crimes.

The fate of the Sultana and Al-Waara Khaya sisters as well as their mother, but also the fate of Mina Baatis and her son, who are subjected to constant harassment, evokes enormous emotions. How long will France continue to remain deaf to the appeals of this peaceful people who respect the law and democracy?

The Communists call for a radical change in French policy. Unilateral support for Rabat fuels the conflict, contributes to the decline of international law and fuels long-term instability mechanisms. The referendum is the only way out.

Pascal Torre
deputy head of PCF’s international sector
responsible for the Maghreb and the Middle East

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