In a concerning turn of events, prominent Sahrawi human rights defender Ali Salem Tamek, along with the journalist Brahim Laajiel, a board member of Equipe Media, a Sahrawi collective of journalists, are currently staging a sit-in protest inside Casablanca’s Mohammed V Airport. The protest is in response to an apparent attempt by Moroccan authorities to prevent them from traveling to Algeria to participate in an international symposium. Both individuals maintain that they adhered to all travel regulations and were at the airport well in advance of their scheduled departure. Despite their compliance, they believe that Moroccan authorities deliberately aimed to obstruct their travel plans.
Notably, Ali Salem Tamek has faced years of passport deprivation, travel restrictions, and has been denied the right to work in the public sector by Moroccan occupying authorities. Brahim Laajiel, a respected journalist and co-founder of Equipe Media, also faced a troubling ordeal in 2015 when he was arrested by Moroccan police alongside Said Amidan. At the time, fabricated charges were being concocted against them, but their release was secured thanks to the international pressure exerted by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
This latest incident highlights the ongoing challenges faced by Sahrawi activists, particularly those advocating for human rights and freedom of the press. The Moroccan authorities’ actions not only infringe upon the fundamental right to travel but also undermine the principles of free expression and the work of independent journalists.
Equipe Media calls on the international community to pressure Morocco to let two Sahrawi activists travel to an international symposium to discuss the challenges facing Sahrawis, including the plunder of Western Sahara’s natural resources and the struggle of unemployed Sahrawis.