Call for free­dom for Western Sa­hara

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - NOLOY­ISO MTEMBU

NOT MANY South Africans know of the ex­is­tence of the Sahrawi Re­pub­lic in north­west Africa, let alone how its peo­ple have strug­gled for po­lit­i­cal lib­er­a­tion for more than 40 years, said a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Sahrawi Women’s Union yes­ter­day.

Fatma Me­hdi, the union’s sec­re­tary gen­eral, was speak­ing at the Dis­trict 6 Home­com­ing Cen­tre as a guest of the World March of Women in South­ern Africa.

She said she wanted to raise aware­ness of the plight of the peo­ple of Sahrawi Re­pub­lic, also known as Western Sa­hara.

The coun­try had been a Span­ish colony be­tween 1884 and 1975, be­fore be­ing oc­cu­pied by Moroc­can and Mau­ri­ta­nian forces, Me­hdi said.

Al­though Sahrawi was recog­nised as a re­pub­lic by the AU, and Mau­ri­ta­nia had signed a peace deal in 1991, Morocco wanted either to claim the peo­ple of the coun­try as its own, or for the area to be­come au­ton­o­mous un­der Morocco.

“Ac­cord­ing to Morocco, we do not de­serve in­de­pen­dence. We are too few a peo­ple to be a na­tion and we do not de­serve Western Sa­hara,” Me­hdi said. “That is why Morocco is not part of the African Union.”

At least 200 000 peo­ple lived in refugee camps as they had been forced out of most of their coun­try. The to­tal pop­u­la­tion is about one mil­lion peo­ple.

“The con­di­tions in the camps are bad, but I have learnt to adapt. We have ba­sic ser­vices like schools and hos­pi­tals. I know this is how my life is but I do not want my chil­dren to live like this.

“Our press­ing need is not hunger, but po­lit­i­cal free­dom and dig­nity,” she said.

DIG­NITY: Fatma Me­hdi.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.