Forum condemns sentences imposed on Saharawi activists

The Ghana Forum for Western Sahara has condemned what it described as the harsh prison sentences imposed on 23 Saharawi activists, by a Moroccan court on July 19, 2017 for their alleged roles in a 2010 protest in Gdeim Izik Peace Camp, one of the refugee camps, housing suffering Saharawi population in their own homeland.

The forum, therefore, demands an immediate and unconditional release of the activists who have been handed various sentences ranging from life to two years prison terms, a statement signed by the secretary of the forum, Mohammed Shamsudeen Shardow said.

“The Ghana’s Forum on Western Sahara urges all freedom lovers to condemn this latest action and also demand either a fresh trial by an independent court or unconditionally release the victims,” the statement said.

The activists have been detained in custody since their arrests in 2010, according to the statement.

“We are of the view that this latest decision by the civilian court has exposed the agenda of Moroccans who are hell burnt in annexing the territories of Western Sahara. The sentences were a confirmation of similar sentences imposed on the activists.

“A military tribunal earlier in 2013 had jailed the activists in similar prison terms. The case was subsequently transferred to the civilian court following widespread international condemnation,” the statement added.

It said in their monitoring, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, reported many irregularities during the trial.

The statement said the sentences were based on one-sided police material evidence obtained through coercion and torture.

More than 30,000 Saharawi in 2010 embarked on a massive protest in Aaiun, a Western Sahara city Moroccan presence in the territory. The activists were accused of masterminding the protest.

The Ghana Forum for Western Sahara was formed in Accra in 2010.

It has a Steering Committee from a number of organisations including, Trade Union Congress, National Union of Ghana Students, Ghana Journalists Association, Socialist Forum of Ghana, among many others.

It is chaired by respected human rights lawyer,Mr Akoto Ampaw.

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