The Saharawi fighter for self-determination Yahya Mohamed El Hafed Iaaza was arrested and unfairly sentenced to 15 years in prison by Morocco. On March 1, 2023, he was released from prison after serving his full sentence. The Saharawi community gave him a magnificent welcome in Tan Tan, with numerous guests. Then came Moroccan reprisals against some of the participants.
Despite 15 years of suffering, Yahya has not lost an ounce of morale and courage. In an interview –reproduced in video- granted to Equipe Media, he continues to vindicate the resistance till the end, and is happy that it is assured in the next generation, referring to his son.
He speaks of values, which were instilled in him since he was a child. He has never wavered in the face of the Moroccans.
He speaks of the absurd charges against him, of how he had to go on hunger strikes to have them dropped, at least managing, through pressure from international organizations, to have the accusation of spying for foreign parties -the Polisario- dropped, leaving the charges of common crimes in force, which either were not true.
He also went on hunger strikes to be moved to another prison because of his asthma. He almost died in Ait Melloul. His strikes were very hard: 20, 30, 40, 63 days. He was kept in isolation without medical control almost till the end. He was going out of his mind, shouting, he had visions.
He speaks of support for the prisoners. It is a priority. We must support the families so that they are the strongest and that the prisoners know it. The pressure against Morocco must come from all sides, also from the civilian prisoners, who must help each other (as he did). He mentions the imprisoned students and the Gdeim Izik group for whom he asks for special support. The Saharawi must remain united and reinforce national unity.
He asks parents to make sure their children go to school or they will have problems.
He states that torture exists. He has been tortured and so have his comrades, even more than him. He recalls their screamings and their suffering. Prisoners are routinely beaten and slapped. He denounced the prisoners’ rights violations, and that earned him reprisals.
“The unfortunate thing would be that a person were arrested and no one would raise his case.”
El Aaiun – occupied Western Sahara
April, 6, 2023