June 2, 2023
Smara, Western Sahara
A group of Sahrawi women, including widows and divorced individuals who lack breadwinners, were assaulted by Moroccan occupying forces on June 8, 2023. The women had gathered to peacefully demonstrate for their rights to housing and employment.
The women initially organized a peaceful demonstration in front of the municipality of Smara. When the Moroccan forces refused to meet with them, the women proceeded to the governorate. However, the Moroccan forces continued to ignore their demands, and the women were eventually forced to relocate outside the city to a place called El Gaiz.
The women sought solace and solidarity while sharing traditional tea. However, they were not left in peace. The Moroccan forces followed them to El Gaiz and assaulted them.
According to one of the protesters who spoke to Equipe Media, the Moroccan occupation authorities are threatening to press charges against them for assaulting public officials. She added that their peaceful demonstrations and calls for their fundamental rights were met with undue force and aggression, which exposing the oppressive tactics employed by the occupying forces.
The group of Sahrawi women, consisting of vulnerable individuals who have been marginalized by the occupiers, took to the streets to demand access to adequate housing and employment opportunities. Their peaceful demonstrations aimed to shed light on the dire circumstances they face, seeking justice .
However, instead of addressing their legitimate concerns, the Moroccan occupying forces responded with violence and intimidation. The assault on these women, who bravely voiced their grievances, underscores the ongoing human rights violations perpetrated by the occupying authorities in Western Sahara.
In an interview with Equipe Media, Soukeina Jeddahlu, a prominent Sahrawi activist and former victim of enforced disappearance, emphasized the urgent need to hold the Moroccan occupation authorities accountable for their excessive use of force and harassment against peaceful demonstrators.
Soukeina’s personal experience and commitment to human rights advocacy lend a powerful voice to the struggle for justice in Western Sahara.
She firmly asserted that the right to protest and advocate for one’s rights is a fundamental pillar of our struggle for independence , and Sahrawi women should not face criminalization or retribution for exercising this fundamental right.
Soukeina called upon the international community to take a stand and exert pressure on the Moroccan authorities, urging them to respect the rights of the Sahrawi people and put an end to the systemic human rights violations in occupied Western Sahara.