Aminatou Haidar / Der Sahraui wird die Rückreise in die Westsahara verweigert
Martin Ling *
Der Name »Gandhi der Westsahara« kommt nicht von ungefähr: Die sahrauische Menschenrechtlerin Aminatou Haidar greift wie der legendäre indische Unabhängigkeitsheld Mahatma Gandhi im politischen Kampf zu gewaltlosen Mitteln. Eine der schärfsten »Waffen« im pazifistischen Repertoire ist der Hungerstreik. Derzeit verweigert die 1967 geborene Haidar vor dem Flughafen der Kanareninsel Lanzarote die Nahrungsaufnahme. Der Protest richtet sich gegen Marokko und die spanischen Behörden, die ihr die Ausreise in die Westsahara wegen eines fehlenden Reisepasses verweigern. Was logisch klingt, hat einen politischen Hintergrund. »Ich bin eine Entführte Spaniens«, meint Haidar und verweist darauf, dass es lächerlich sei, sie ohne Pass ein-, aber nicht wieder ausreisen zu lassen. Denn ihren Pass ist Haidar los, seit die marokkanischen Behörden ihn ihr bei ihrer Rückreise aus den USA via Spanien in El Ayoun, der Hauptstadt der ehemaligen spanischen Kolonie Westsahara, abgenommen haben. Der Grund: Haidar hatte beim Einreiseformular als Staatsangehörigkeit »Sahrauisch« angegeben - nach ihren Angaben hatte sie diesen Akt zivilen Ungehorsams schon öfter ungestraft unternommen. Dieses Mal aber kannten die Behörden des Landes, das seit 1975 die Westsahara besetzt hält, keine Nachsicht. Ohne Pass wurde die in El Ayoun lebende alleinerziehende Mutter zweier Kinder in ein Flugzeug Richtung Kanaren geschickt und von Spaniens Behören nicht an der Einreise gehindert.
Die Verweigerung der Nahrungsaufnahme kann dauern, denn Haidar ist für ihre Beharrlichkeit und Konsequenz bekannt. Nichts hat sie bisher davon abgehalten, ihren Kampf für die Unabhängigkeit der Westsahara fortzusetzen. Vier Jahre saß sie in dem von Marokko besetzten Wüstengebiet im Nordwesten Afrikas im Gefängnis. Wegen der dort erlittenen Folter hat sie in Spanien dauerhaftes Aufenthaltsrecht erhalten und das reicht für die Ein-, aber nicht für die Ausreise, winden sich die Behörden aus der Affäre. Vor ihrer Abschiebung war sie in Washington mit einem Menschenrechtspreis ausgezeichnet worden. Eine Lösung im Fall Haidar steht ebenso aus wie für die Westsahara - seit 1991 verweigert Marokko das im UNO-Friedensplan zugesagte Referendum.
* Aus: Neues Deutschland, 18. November 2009
Aminatou Haidar erhielt 2009 den Civil Courage Prize und 2008 den Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award
Im Folgenden dokumentieren wir einen Artikel anlässlich der Preisverleihung des Preises für Civil Courage 2009 in New York sowie eine Rede von Kerry Kennedy anlässlich der Verleihung des Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award 2008.
Aminatou Haidar Wins 2009 Civil Courage Prize for Leadership Role in Peaceful Struggle for Self-Determination in North Africa's Western Sahara
Ms. Aminatou Haidar, known
as the "Sahrawi Gandhi", a
leading defender through
peaceful means of the human rights of
the Sahrawi people of former Spanish
Morocco, will receive the Civil
Courage Prize Medal for 2009 and
$50,000 at a ceremony in New York on
October 20 to honor her steadfast
resistance to evil at great personal risk.
She is being recognized specifically for
her courageous campaign for selfdetermination
in Western Sahara that
is now occupied byMorocco despite an
agreement in 1988 calling for a referendum
on the issue in the region and an
International Court of Justice ruling
that rejected Morocco's claims of sovereignty.
Morocco's military rule of the Western
Sahara since its invasion in 1975 has
been notable, according to Sahrawi
leaders, for forced disappearances and
abuses of prisoners of conscience in the
area. The region has experienced an
extended conflict between Moroccan
forces and the Sahrawi independence
group, the Polisario Front, since the
latter proclaimed the Sahrawi Democratic
Republic (SADR) as Western
Sahara's legitimate government in exile.
In 1988, Morocco and the Polisario
Front agreed to settle the dispute
through a UN-administered referendum
that would allow the people of
Western Sahara to choose between
independence or integration into
Morocco. The vote has still not been
held. A UN-administered cease-fire has
been in place since 1991, but talks
under UN facilitations begun in 2007
have stalled over disagreements on
participation and whether full independence
is an option for the Sahrawis.
Ms. Haidar, a mother of two, is part
of a younger generation of
Sahrawi leaders working
through non-violent means to
organize peaceful demonstrations
in support of the referendum
and to denounce the human
rights abuses on both sides of the conflict.
Her non-violent efforts have been
met with increased police aggression
and brutality. In 1987, at the age of 21,
Ms. Haidar was one of 700 peaceful
demonstrators arrested for participating
in a rally in support of the referendum.
Later she was "disappeared" without
charge or trial and held for four years in
secret detention centers, where she and
17 other Sahrawi women were tortured.
In 2005, when police detained and beat
her after another peaceful demonstration
she sustained serious head and bodily
injuries. She was released after seven
months in the "black prison" at Al-
Ayoun, thanks to pressure
from groups like Amnesty International
and the European
While she was in jail in
2005, she was nominated for the Andrei
Sakarov Human Rights Award by the
European Parliament and for the
Ginetta Sagan Fund Award by Amnesty
International (USA Branch). She also was
awarded the 2006 Juan Maria Bandres
Human Rights Award (Spain), the Santa
Lucia Prize (Italy) and the Silver Rose
Award of 2007 (Austria). She also was
nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Ms. Haidar was born in 1967 in El
Ayoun, Western Sahara. She holds a
baccalaureate in Modern Literature.
Source: Civil Courage News (Journal of the Civil Courage Prize), Vol. 5, No. 2, September 2009 Journal of the Civil Courage Prize
Rede von Kerry Kennedy anlässlich der Preisverleihung
Remarks by Kerry Kennedy
25th Annual Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, November 13th, 2008
Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC
On the eve of my father, Robert Kennedy's 83rd birthday it is a fitting tribute to his life and legacy that we honor Aminatou Haidar, the "Sahrawi Gandhi," with the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. Aminatou is a courageous leader in her peoples' almost half-century long battle to realize their inalienable right to self-determination.
In 1975, the Government of Morocco invaded Western Sahara on the eve of its anticipated referendum on independence from Spain. The invasion was in defiance of a clear ruling by the International Court of Justice holding that the arguments presented by Morocco "do not establish any tie of territorial sovereignty between the territory of Western Sahara and the Kingdom of Morocco." Indeed, the Court aligned itself with United Nations resolutions regarding decolonization of the Western Sahara, and emphasized in its opinion "the principle of self-determination through the free and genuine expression of the will of the [Sahrawi] peoples...."
In response to the invasion, the Polisario launched an armed struggle against the occupying Moroccan forces. The Polisario established the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic in February 1976, which has subsequently been recognized by numerous countries and is a full member state of the African Union. Most of the indigenous Sahrawi people fled the Moroccan troops and went into near permanent displacement, primarily in Polisario-run refugee camps in Algeria. Morocco's military forces eventually assumed control of most of the territory, including all major towns.
Since the first calls for decolonization in the 1960s, widespread international support for the Sahrawi's right to self-determination has consolidated. As the U.N. Secretary General recently stated, "no member state of the U.N. recognizes Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara." To the contrary, in Resolution 2625 the U.N. General Assembly has stipulated that "no territorial acquisition resulting from the threat or actual use of force shall be recognized as legal," and the United Nations has passed dozens of resolutions affirming and reaffirming the right of the Sahrawi to determine their own future.
In 1991, based on Morocco's promise to hold an internationally supervised referendum on the future of the territory, the Polisario and Morocco agreed to a ceasefire. But the Government of Morocco refused to allow the referendum to move forward. Instead, it engaged in a relentless campaign of violence as a military strategy to maintain territorial control and suppress civil and political rights. Moroccan troops and government authorities have silenced dissent, suspended rights to free expression and assembly, and harassed, threatened, jailed, tortured, and "disappeared" countless Sahrawi. , Mock trials on trumped-up charges are standard fare, followed by unspeakable cruelty.
For years, the suffering of the Saharawi was virtually muted by the Moroccan authorities.
But that silence has been broken by one woman. One woman on a mission to give voice to a repressed and impoverished people in a remote portion of the Sahara desert. Aminatou Haidar's unyielding quest to raise the profile of her beloved homeland has brought the plight of the people of Western Sahara to the corridors of power throughout the world.
Aminatou was born in 1967, and grew up amidst the human rights atrocities committed by Morocco's occupying forces. In 1987, at the age of 21, she joined a peaceful demonstration organized during a visit from a U.N. mission.
In response, Moroccan police arrested her along with more than 400 peaceful demonstrators, of whom 70 would lengthen the list of the disappeared. Seventeen of the women, including Aminatou were targeted for unimaginable torture.
Abducted by Moroccan police in plain clothes, she was gagged, starved, sleep deprived, subjected to electric shock, severely beaten - and worse. Her meager rations were infested with insects, and lice covered her body. Throughout her captivity, Aminatou's tormenters refused her access to her family, her lawyer, or any contact with the outside world.
To this day, her detention haunts her. She regularly passes her torturers on the street. Threats from police and others are a frequent occurrence.
But Aminatou will not be stopped.
Aminatou began organizing against the occupation and led efforts for the release of prisoners of conscience. She spoke eloquently regarding the rights of women and children, and the importance of non-violent protest.
In June 2005, Aminatou was arrested once again, tortured, and incarcerated in the "Black Prison" of El-Ayoun. A kangaroo court sentenced her to 7 months in jail for her outspoken support of human rights in Western Sahara. Despite the torment, Aminatou refused to be cowed. On the very day of her release she defiantly issued this public statement.
"the joy is incomplete without the release of all Saharawi political prisoners and without the liberation of all the territories of the homeland still under the occupation of the oppressor."
Although human rights organizations cannot legally register in occupied Western Sahara, Aminatou serves as the President of the Sahrawi Collective of Human Rights Defenders (CODESA). CODESA is at the cutting edge of social change, advocating for basic rights and defending the oppressed.
Bravery is most commonly associated with a single act of daring at a precise moment in time; often in war. But battlefield bravery pales in comparison with the quality of courage exemplified by Aminatou, who, despite bloodshed, torture, starvation, disease, and the savagery of an occupying army which brought death to many of her people, and the rape of her beloved land, has made it her mission to speak the truth to those in power about the plight of her people. She will not be dismissed, and all of us here today will work to ensure that she will not be silenced.
Nobel Prize Laureate and holocaust survivor Elie Weisel says that the opposite of love is not hate; the opposite of love is indifference. For years, indifference has characterized the international community's posture toward the Western Sahara. But Aminatou's love for her people is so affecting, and her words of so full of truth and promise, that she may yet turn the tide of history itself and renew our faith that good ultimately triumphs over evil.
The cruelties and obstacles of this swiftly changing planet will not yield to obsolete dogmas and outworn slogans. It demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease."
It is an honor now to join another woman who, like Aminatou, personifies the predominance of courage over timidity and the appetite for adventure over the love of ease.
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