Report: Saharawi Leaders Illegally Arrested in Morocco

Published April 29th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Moroccan authorities detained two leaders of the Western Saharan peoples, known as Saharawi, to prevent them from testifying about abuses before the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, charged international humanitarian groups Wednesday, Inter Press Service (IPS) reported, citing the International League for the Rights and Liberation of People (LIDLIP).  

The Moroccan police arrested Mahmoud Elhamed and Brahim Noumri at the airport in Casablanca as the two headed to Geneva. 

Elhamed and Noumri are members of the Truth and Justice Forum - Saharan office, a human rights organization, and were en route to present a report before the UN commission on the violations attributed to Moroccan authorities when they were detained, the agency said. 

Morocco took over the territory of the Western Sahara by military force after Spain ended its colonial reign over the area in 1975.  

The Truth and Justice Forum stated in Geneva that human rights abuses began to occur then against the local residents, perpetrated by the Moroccan military forces.  

In that same period, armed hostilities erupted between the Rabat government and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro (Polisario Front), which demands self-determination for the Saharawi, the people of the Western Sahara –

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