Amnesty calls on Moroccan occupier to stop "harassing" Sahrawi activists

London, 28 May 2022 (SPS) - Amnesty International has called on the Moroccan authorities to end the "harassment" and "violence" against Sahrawi human rights activists after police officers and agents of the Moroccan occupation forces violently assaulted five Sahrawi activists in occupied Boujdour in Western Sahara recently.

The London-based non-governmental organization said it had investigated the circumstances of the separate attacks on five Saharawi activists on 15 and 16 April in the occupied city of Boujdour.

According to the same source, the Sahrawi activists Zeinab Babi, Embarka Al Hafidhi, Fatima al Hafidhi, Oum Al Moumin Al Kharashi and Nasrathum (Hajatna) Babi were targeted after participating in peaceful demonstrations in support of the right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination, and after having publicly expressed their support for Sultana Khaya, a human rights activist who has been living under house arrest in her home in Boujdour since November 2020.

The women were beaten with sticks, punched and kicked by plainclothes security forces and Moroccan police. One woman lost consciousness and her hand required reconstructive surgery. Two of the women said they were sexually assaulted, Amnesty said.

"These women were peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly, yet they were subjected to brutal attacks, resulting in cuts, bruises and, in at least one case, broken bones," said Amna Guellai, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

"Until now, the alleged perpetrators have enjoyed total impunity (...)", and "the Moroccan authorities have positioned members of the security forces in front of the homes of activists, which scares them and discourages them from going out," she added, calling "the Moroccan authorities to end the harassment and violence targeting Sahrawi men and women activists...".

The five Saharawi activists were on the street in Boujdour, most of them heading to Sultana Khaya's house to join peaceful protests on its roof, when they were attacked separately by groups of Moroccan security forces, the same source said.