VIII Conference of Madrid Public Universities on Western Sahara (4 and 5 April 2014)
– Sidi Mohamed Omar, Ambassador at Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the SADR.
– María López Belloso, Research Fellow at the Hegoa Institute.
– Hamad Hamad, Sahrawi human rights activist from the occupied territories.
– Chair: Mr Manuel Sierra, Directorate for Development Cooperation of the Polytechnic University of Madrid.
María López Belloso pointed out that one of Morocco’s arguments to justify the construction of the wall would primarily be its defensive character, which makes no sense since 1991 given the ongoing “ceasefire” which is in place and the presence of MINURSO mission in charge of monitoring the wall. Another argument for retaining the wall would be the control of the alleged drug and human trafficking in the territory: another fallacy. In fact, some years ago, the Frente POLISARIO rescued a group of Sub-Saharan civilians who were expelled through the wall and were roaming the desert in terrible conditions.
Finally, she highlighted one of the main consequences of the wall: family separation. 27% of those interviewees for the report titled “Oasis of Memory” spontaneously pointed out family separation as one of the biggest factors of stress and tension.
Sidi Mohamed Omar insisted that talking about the wall is “talking about a persistent and emblematic symbol of the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara.”
According to Morocco, the construction of the “wall of shame” was the most important decision taken by Morocco in the course of the conflict. Morocco began to build the wall in 1980 and the construction process was carried out in six phases. In a first step, a 500 km wall was erected, but in the face of the continuous attacks of the Sahrawi army, the King of Morocco was forced to extend the wall to 2,720 km in the last phase. Some analysts consider the Moroccan wall as “the greatest functional military barrier in the [world]”.
Hmad Hamad talked about human rights violations in the occupied territories. He also talked about the exploitation of natural resources, including Sahrawi flora and fauna, which are being depleted, and the looting of phosphates and fisheries.
The human rights activist recalled that there are dozens of Sahrawi prisoners in Moroccan jails, including members of the Gdeim Izik Group who were sentenced to long prison sentences, including life sentences, by a Moroccan military court. Hmad concluded by referring to the illegal exploitation of Sahrawi fisheries as “Spanish vessels fishing in a sea of tears of a whole people”.