Here is my letter below to Stroud Life after Neil Carmichael wrote in his column that we can learn lots from that country. It was not that that angered me but rather his gloss over the very serious issue of Western Sahara.
Photo: From the Western Sahara Campaign - see here - see also my previous blogs on this topic by clicking on the label below.
Neil Carmichael writes of his Christmas break in Morocco and that lessons can be learnt from that country (Stroud Life 5/01/11). Well I am sure, but I cannot accept his warm words about their democracy and 'adherence to the rule of law'.
Morocco annexed Western Sahara after Spain pulled out in 1976, and still refuses to cooperate with a decolonization process. This is despite international condemnation and more than a 100 United Nations resolutions that insist on the Saharawi people’s right to self-determination. No state in the world has recognised the Moroccan annexation of Western Sahara. Just before Neil Carmichael visited Morocco, a campaign was launched in London under the title of "Morocco: sun, sea, sand and torture” to highlight human rights abuses in occupied Western Sahara where Morocco plans to extend tourism. Campaign groups are asking tourists to boycott holidaying in Morocco.
Neil Carmichael will be aware, as I wrote to him, that the Moroccan Security Forces took violent action to disperse protestors in November. This led to deaths, riots and ongoing violence. A report from Human Rights Watch found that Saharawi detainees had been beaten and abused and the violence has been condemned by the United Nations Security Council. The European Parliament has now called for an independent UN investigation.
The Saharawi people face daily discrimination with those daring to challenge the occupation facing detention, abuse and torture. Western Sahara is a forgotten conflict and the 'Don’t Go To Morocco campaign' is intended to make holiday-makers aware of the situation there and to take it into consideration when booking their holidays. After all, ‘sun, sea, sand and torture’ is not what people want when they go on holiday.
Cllr Philip Booth, Stroud District councillor for Randwick, Whiteshill and Ruscombe ward