Spetember 18th 2021, bulldozers, trucks and excavators surrounded Gdeim Izik north-east of occupied El Aaiun and started tearing down over 100 Saharawi houses. These houses were permanent or temporary residences to which tents were attached when necessary. They are on “grayer”.
The “grayer” (in the singular, “grarat”) are tribal lands that have palm groves or desert trees like acacia. There are wells that make looking for water or to go hunting for seasonal rain superfluous.
Every « Grarat » has small houses and one or two khaimas (traditional Bedouin tents). Some huts have been constructed during the Spanish colonial period. Sahrawis live there according to the lifestyles of their culture and their identity .Land passed down from fathers to their children.
The families who permanently live in the huts derive their livelihood from raising goats and camels.
Some have chosen to live there during the quarantine, to escape the repression, threats and intimidation from the Moroccan occupying authorities, and became more intense during the sanitary restrictions period.
Saharawis who protested against the demolitions of their homes were beaten by the police and brought to justice. Some remained powerless in the face of this destruction and fled with their children to El Aaiun. For those who agreed to speak to the journalists of Équipe Média, they do not know what arguments to oppose the violent grabbing of their land by the Moroccan colonizer, because they doubt that there is a written document attesting to their family ownership for generations.
On September 22, 6 Sahrawi families living in similar huts southwest of El Aaiun were attacked. The area is located between the airport and the “grayer” Boutabaa” , known as “Brareik Ethanban” (the fly huts).
One of the families, the Boutabaas, said this is the third time the occupation forces have demolished their house, the first of which was built in 1960.
The two families Boutabas and Baijas have suffered from police violence. during the destruction of their homes. Their families are still camping on the grounds to protest against the decision of the occupation authorities.
It appears that the demolition and eviction operations were monitored by a military helicopter which was observed over the southwest area of El Aaiun at the same time.
According to the information available, it is expected that at least 5 housing units for the Moroccan police will be built in Izik.
It seems that the growth of mafias, land cartels and rampant real estate speculation are involved. Land located in occupied Western Sahara is sold by Sahrawi or Moroccan intermediaries with false title deeds, which fuels land speculation based on nothing.
In 2015, after a similar intervention to destroy houses and force residents to evacuate their homes on “grayer” 15 km north of El Aaiun, the land was confiscated. The occupation authorities have built a training center for rapid intervention officers there.
On September 26, 2018, in Edaoura, 40 km north of El Aaiun, the occupation authorities confiscated land belonging to Sahrawis and pressured their residents to leave. The gendarmes had also used force to compel Sahrawi families to sign contracts, or to cede their rights under the contract to the National Agency for the Land Conservation of Cadastre and Cartography.
Équipe Média, septembre 30, 2021
El Aaiun, Occupied Western Sahara