BRUSSELS- The Polisario Front expressed its deep concern over the terrible situation affecting the Sahrawi political prisoners detained illegally in Morocco amidst the spread of the pandemic Covid-19.
“These are difficult times for all of us, but no more than those languishing in arbitrary detention. As you know, dozens of innocent Saharawi civilians are currently illegally detained in Moroccan prisons, “reads a letter from the Polisario Front’s representation to the EU, at the Brussels office of Human Rights Watch.
“Victims of ill-treatment, torture and willful medical neglect, these prisoners are not only at high risk of falling seriously ill due to COVID-19, they are also easy targets for the Moroccan regime,” added the Polisario Front , stressing that “it is therefore imperative that Morocco authorizes immediate access to these detainees by independent human rights observers”.
The letter underscored the urgent appeal of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, on March 25, 2020, for urgent measures to protect the health and safety of people in detention and of other establishments closed, as part of overall efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
The letter from the Representation of the Polisario Front called HRW to “encourage the European Council and the Commission to intervene immediately to guarantee the safety of all Sahrawi political prisoners in Moroccan prisons”.
“Beyond their immediate release, these prisoners need urgent protection against the COVID-19 virus,” said the Front in its letter.
Referring to the EU’s responsibilities vis-à-vis the long-standing conflict in Western Sahara, the Polisario said that “the EU has played a secondary role for far too long in the search for a political solution to the Western Sahara conflict. But this is a context that can change, given the levers available to the EU, including the opportunity for a fresh start with the new direction of the Commission.
“If the challenge of achieving a just political settlement remains difficult, action can be taken now to deter retaliation against the most vulnerable to COVID-19.
The Moroccan authorities should receive a clear and strong message that they cannot use the current health emergency to retaliate against political detainees and further restrict the rights and dignity of the Saharawi people, “it added.
On March 22, as the COVID-19 pandemic was spreading around the world, the Sahrawi president and secretary general of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, addressed a letter to the secretary general of the United Nations, describing the appalling situation which affects Sahrawi political prisoners illegally detained in Moroccan prisons.
He warned that “the epidemic of this dangerous virus and the urgent measures required, in particular to avoid large gatherings and overcrowding, completely contradict the situation in which these civilian prisoners are held in overcrowded Moroccan prisons”.