Do not forget us

Published on Pambazuka News, by Claude Mangin, Oct. 6, 2011.

Enaama Asfari’s persecution by Moroccan authorities, recounted here by his wife Claude Mangin, illustrates the horrible extent to which the occupying power will go to quash Sahrawi resistance. But true freedom fighters will not give up until they liberate their homeland … //

… RECORD OF ARRESTS 2010-2011: 

Recently, in October 2010, my husband had a prominent presence in the Gdeim Izik ‘freedom camp’ of 8000 tents in the vicinity of El Aaiun video of Morocco’s brutal dawn raid on the camp ]. The Sahrawi call it the ‘camp of pride and dignity’, where he helped to make known what was happening by explaining the objectives of this new movement of resistance, exceptional by its magnitude. He travelled back and forth to Laayoune, while the camp was besieged by the Moroccan Army, to edit videos with photographic images and interviews he had filmed in the campt o upload them to the internet for the international observers and media. video interview transmitted from Gdeim Izik camp November 2010

As the airwaves were jammed in the camp by the Moroccan authorities, he also kept returning to Laayoune in order to send news to his family and to me and make calls to the media and friends of the international solidarity associations, hoping in vain to avoid what finally happened on 8 November 2010 when the Moroccan security forces dismantled the camp by force. On 7 November 2010, my husband was in Laayoune, where he was being tracked down. He was hiding with friends when he called me at 8.15pm to give me his new mobile number. He wanted me to communicate with friends and in particular to the French delegation that was expected to arrive the same night in Laayoune, his other number having become too well known by the Moroccan security services.

But Deputy Mayor Jean-Paul Lecoq was at that moment already being held by the Moroccan authorities at the airport in Casablanca, where he stayed overnight before being expelled, as his visit to Laayoune for evidence of the events was something the Moroccan government did not want.

Meanwhile, Madam Marie Thérèse Marchand, commissioned by the Association of Friends of SADR to accompany Deputy Mayor Lecocq, arrived at Laayoune at two o’clock in the morning. Having not been identified by the Moroccan authorities, she remained 24 hours in the town and was witness to much of the violence. At 8.20pm, police entered the home of the friends of my husband, beat him and took him unconscious to an unknown location. Then nothing, no more contact with my husband, and no information from the Moroccan authorities to his family or to me. From Paris, thanks to calls from our Saharawi friends and Marie Thérèse Marchand, we watched from a distance the Black Monday of 8 November2010, the tragic attack and the dismantling of the camp of Gdeim Izik, the clashes in the streets of Laayoune and the mass arrests of Saharawi civilians. The following days were full of anguish. I was contacted by numerous French and foreign media and by international associations of human rights in search of information on this event which was a ‘surprise’ to many observers even though we had alerted them to the possibilities for several weeks.

Friday 12 November 2010, or five long days of waiting for me and the family, I finally got news at about 3.30pm. Witnesses had seen my husband at 5am in the morning in court in Laayoune with other inmates, half-naked, wearing only shorts, his body covered with traces of the ill-treatment. He was alive! Without a hearing or lawyers, the Attorney General of the King decided to transmit the records of Ennaama and the 5 other prisoners to the Military Tribunal of Rabat and transfer them there the same day. Two days later, they were joined by two more.

On Sunday 14 November, I learnt that nine Saharawi detainees including Ennaama had arrived in Rabat’s Salé prison from Laayoune. They were incarcerated in an annex of Zaki prison, recently built for the exclusive imprisonment of terrorists and Islamists, this detention centre being under the responsibility of General Information and not of the Ministry of Justice. This would put them in a critically serious situation. For eight days after that, no witnesses saw them, no information was available; they are truly missing.

On February 3, 2011, a message was received from Enaama in Salé prison in Rabat, which read: ‘I ask everyone I know in the world to help us exercise our right as political prisoners, because until now the Sahrawi are isolated from other prisoners. We cannot send letters, we cannot do sports, almost no eating because of unsanitary [conditions] and many have consequences of torture. We need your media broadcasting, do not forget us. Thank you.’ (full long text).

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