“We are horrified that all these Moroccan auxiliary forces did everything they could to stop us from listening to Sahrawis”, Pardo and Florentino told Hayat Errguibi, a former Sahrawi political prisoner now living in the city of El-Aaiún.
The injured guy in the photo is Hayat’s brother Dado. He was taken a blow to his left eye by Moroccan officer policeman. [Photo is accredited to Nushatta Foundation.]
Nushatta Foundation Staff
Sunday, 14th April 2019
El-Aaiún – (Western Sahara) In the course of one night this past Thursday April 11th, Moroccan authorities occupying Western Sahara kidnapped two well-known Sahrawi activists in the city of El Aaiún and deported two Spanish pro-Sahrawi sympathizers from the occupied territory to the Canary Islands.
Former political prisoners Ali Sadouni and Khaliehna Elfak were snatched by police on Tan-Tan Boulevard in El-Aaiún in front of a car sales outlet and taken to an unknown destination. Elfak was released an hour later but Sadouni went missing for two days. That same day, Morocco also deported two Spanish activists, Diana Pardo and Maku Florentino, from the city of El-Aaiún, after they had spent three days there meeting with Sahrawi activists.
“The Moroccan policemen jumped out of an unmarked car and abducted us and, in the car used by the police officers, we were physically abused, insulted and humiliated for our non-violent activities,” said Elfak after his release. “The unmarked police car had been following Ali Sadouni throughout the day, obviously waiting for the right moment to take him away”.
Before both activists were taken, a video went viral on social media showing Ali Sadouni and another activist planting several flags of SADR government in the exile on a traffic circle in Tan-Tan Street, an act that is considered illegal by Morocco. This abduction was seen by activists as retaliation by Morocco against Ali for the flag protest.
Sadouni, who is part of a group called Coordination of those Rejecting the Moroccan Nationality, has suffered torture at the hands of Moroccan police several times as a result of his political activities.
For two days, Sadouni’s family and friends looked for him to no avail. On Saturday, April 13th, the Moroccan authorities of occupation brought him before the Moroccan Court of First Instance on trumped-up charges of drug possession and committing violence against a policeman. Many Sahrawi activists who are ostensibly arrested for their political activities are then charged with unrelated crimes, as happened in this case.
This is an old photo of Ali Saadouni. The scars of injuries on his face are as result of the violence at the hands of Moroccan police.
Sadouni was held in police custody for 48 hours and then sent to the local prison of Lkahl to await a new court hearing scheduled for tomorrow Monday, April 15th.
Last Wednesday, at 8pm UTC, Hayat Errguibi had been arranging meetings between the Spanish sympathizers and Saharawi activists in her apartment in the Al-Wifak neighborhood. That evening, scores of uniformed and plain-clothes officers in riot gear blocked the entrance to the entire neighborhood and congregated directly in front of the apartment.
According to Hayat Errguibi a high-ranking Moroccan officer accompanied by plain-clothed policemen and auxiliary-force members knocked down the door after shouting: “Get the foreigners out of your home or we will storm your place!”.
Here are sitting Diana Pardo and Maku Florentino in between two Saharwi actvists at that day. [ photo is accredited to Galia Jomani ]
The presence of so many armed agents instilled terror on those inside the apartment. Given the aggressiveness of police, Pardo and Florentino decided to turn themselves in to police to try to apease the Moroccans and avoid violence against their hosts. However, the activists were beaten once the Spaniards were taken away.
At the door of the apartment, Hayat’s two brothers were both physically and verbally attacked and suffered injuries as a result.
Moroccan occupation authorities routinely deport foreigners from Western Sahara. Since the beginning of this year, at least ten people have been deported — seven Spaniards, two French and one of Chinese nationality.
Morocco has occupied Western Sahara since 1975, when Spain withdrew from its former colony and allowed Moroccans to invade. Sahrawis, who are indigenous to the territory, have been waiting for a long-promised UN-sponsored referendum on self-determination.