Pressures and Intimidation: Forced Summons Policy Threatens Sahrawi Activists and Calls for International Intervention

June 9, 2023

In a controversial move that reflects a systematic policy of intimidation, Moroccan occupying forces have issued mandatory summons to Sahrawi activists in the occupied  cities of Dakhla and Smara following their participation in protest activities, including the handing over of homes to settlers and the exclusion of Sahrawi citizens from their rights to housing and employment.

Today, June 9, 2023, Sahrawi activist and former political prisoner Othman Athnakha and his wife Fatima Haydara, along with

Moulouda Lahmied, Khadijatou Garah and Khadija Haydara, received a summons to appear forcibly at the Moroccan Gendarmerie Center in Bir Gandusz, accusing them of assaulting a Moroccan official. The individuals involved believe that these charges are fabricated and motivated by retribution against their activism and demands for their legitimate rights in housing and employment.

The double standards displayed by the Moroccan occupation authorities raise questions about the repressive practices faced by Sahrawi activists. For example, Fatima Haydara suffered a violent attack by the commander of the Bir Gandus Center, resulting in injuries and loss of consciousness. However, instead of holding the responsible occupation official accountable, the authorities chose to pursue Sahrawi activists and side with the occupying administration. You can refer to the summons directed at the couple and the group to attend the Gendarmerie Center alongside the article.

In the same context, the trial of five women in Smara primary court has been postponed to June 18 on charges of insulting officials while performing their duties. These five women are being prosecuted under Articles 267-263 of the Moroccan Penal Code. This situation threatens their imprisonment and instills fear among Sahrawi citizens, preventing them from protesting against the occupation and its policies. It raises questions about the responsibilities and obligations of the international community and the occupying authority towards international law and the basic rights of the Sahrawi people, including their right to self-determination.

With the forced summons and the continuation of repressive policies and acts of retaliation, Moroccan occupying forces and its government demonstrate their ongoing disregard for the rights of the Sahrawi people and their legitimate demands.

These events perpetuate psychological and physical pressures on activists and members of the Sahrawi community, reflecting the authorities’ efforts to suppress opposition movements and impede the pursuit of justice, self-determination, and independence for the Sahrawi people.

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