The New York Times deigns to cover the conflict in Western Sahara (which the paper calls “nearly forgotten”—true enough, thanks in large part to the “newspaper of record”) June 4—on the occasion of a Washington press affair featuring former residents of the Polisario Front’s refugee camps in Algeria, who complained bitterly of authoritarianism and corruption by the camp’s administrators. Dissidents are persecuted and international aid shunted to the black market by Polisario commissars, they said. The refugees, now receiving Moroccan aid in occupied Western Sahara, were generally circumspect about what political future they supported for the territory—but one openly said “We would like the Western Sahara to remain part of Morocco, of course.” Only towards the end of the piece are we told the press affair was organized by the Moroccan American Center for Policy—loaning credence to Polisario Washington representative Mouloud Said’s gripe to the Times: “These people are brought by the Moroccan public relations companies here, so they have to mislead.”
Meanwhile, perusing the website of the Sahrawi Association of Victims of Grave Human Rights Violations Committed by the Moroccan State (ASVDH) will clue you in to some of the stories about the “nearly forgotten” territory the Times has overlooked. On June 3, Moroccan judicial police in El-Ayoune (the territory’s capital) raided several homes to arrest young men without charge or warrant. (ASVDH, June 4) Ennaâma Asfari, co-chair of Committee for the Respect of Liberties and Human Rights in Western Sahara (CORELSO) is imprisoned in Marrakesh on what he call trumped-up charges related to a car crash. His trial has been postponed to June 16. (ASVDH, June 2) He has been subject to repeated harassment behind bars—most recently, having all of his personal possessions confiscated May 30. (ASVDH, May 31)
In related news, Algerian Rai music star Khaled was assaulted in a concert at the Moroccan town of Meknes June 4, with bottles and debris thrown onstage hitting him in the leg and forcing an early end to the show. The attack is presumably a reprisal for the singer waving the flag of Western Sahara onstage at a recent concert in Spain. (ElKhabar, Algeria, June 5)
See our last post on Western Sahara.