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Speech by Mr BrahimGhali, President of the SahrawiRepublic, Secretary-General of the Frente POLISARIO at the Opening of the 41stEuropean Conference for Support and Solidarity with the Sahrawi people

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VilanovaiLa Geltru, 18 November 2016
Mr Pierre Galland, President of the European Coordination of Solidarity with the Sahrawi People,
Ladies and Gentlemen members of the Task Force and the presiding board of the Conference,
Ladies and Gentlemen representatives of governments, parliaments, political parties, organisations and associations,
Ladies and Gentlemen members of the international movement of solidarity coming from all the continents of the world,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The 41st edition of the European Conference for Solidarity with the Sahrawi people kicks off today. This annual international event demonstrates each year, with renewed determination, the strength, continuity and wide scope of the movement of solidarity with the struggle of the Sahrawi people for freedom and independence.
I would like to extend our sincere thanks and appreciation to all those who have contributed in one way or another to the preparation and organisation of this seminal forum. I would also like to applaud the tremendous efforts that have been made in record time and under great difficulties by the friends of the Sahrawi people in the municipality of Vilanova i La Geltru andin Catalonia and Spain in close cooperation with the Task Force and the representations of the Frente POLISARIO in Catalonia and Spain.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The organisers have decided to open the Conference with a deserved tribute to a great man in the history of the struggle of the Sahrawi people and the struggles of peoples in general for restoring their usurped rights, Martyr Mohamed Abdelaziz, the late President of the Sahrawi people. We have lost a seasoned leader, a staunch militant and a courageous fighter, ready to give everything for the most precious thing, the freedom and dignity of his people.
We have lost a dignified man who was a glorious example of sacrifice and dedication throughout all his life that he spent struggling on the path of the great heroes such as Sidi Mohamed Ibrahim Bassiri and founding leader, Martyr El Wali Mustapha Sayed.
The late Mohamed Abdelaziz, above all, was a man of peace and a staunch advocate of human values. He is the model for the peaceful Sahrawi people that are averse to violence and who have been forced to resort to armed struggle, a legitimate right of colonial peoples, in defence of their right to live in dignity.
Our struggling people have shown the world their ability to deal with this tragedy consciously and responsibly in an atmosphere of unity and harmony and have achieved a smooth transition based on the rule of law and democracy, thus foiling all the plans and plots of the enemies.
This is a message addressed to the Moroccan state of occupation and all those who support it that betting on fatigue or weakness amid our people is definitely a lost gamble. It has been more than 41 years of resistance and struggle and facing up to the harshest of conditions and challenges, but the flame of resistance has not been extinguished. With every day that goes by the Sahrawi people are more confident in the victory and independence, and the network of solidarity with their just struggle keeps on growing and expanding.
The Sahrawi state, as eternal and practical embodiment of the will of the Sahrawi people, has become an irreversible national, regional and international fact. It is operating with its executive, legislative and judicial institutions and is strongly present in Africa and worldwide.
The Sahrawi people, victim of Moroccan expansionism and aggression and subjected to genocide, displacement, repression and torture, have managed, under the leadership of the Frente POLISARIO, to achieve a quantum leap in record time that have brought about radical changes. Our people have built a modern and open society that is committed to its objectives and noble values and believes in the principles of democracy, equality and peaceful coexistence among religions and cultures.
This unique experience is being targeted today by a new kind of threats represented by organised crime gangs and terrorist groups that receive support and funding from drugs coming from the Kingdom of Morocco, the largest producer and exporter of cannabis in the world and the greatest threat to peace and stability in the region.
Through its social, educational, religious and cultural policies, among others, the Sahrawi state has become a factor of moderation and stability in the region. In line with its international and African Union obligations, and in cooperation with the countries of the region, the Sahrawi State has been working relentlessly to combat terrorism and extremism. These are great risks that threaten humanity and it would be a shame on the international community not to provide support and protection for our people and their legitimate cause.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We note with satisfaction the positive developments that have taken place politically, legally and judicially in Europe in relation to the Sahrawi cause.
The ruling of the European General Court issued in December 2015 and the opinion of the EU General Advocate Mr Wathelet delivered in September 2016 have debunked categorically the remaining misconceptions and fallacies in relation to the European legal engagement with the Moroccan-Sahrawi conflict. For the European Union, as is the case of the United Nations and the African Union and others, the Kingdom of Morocco does not exercise any sovereignty over Western Sahara and therefore the EU-Moroccan agreements do not include the territories of the Sahrawi Republic and its territorial waters. In addition to establishing the fact that Spain is still legally responsible for the Territory as a colonial administering power, the ruling also affirmed that the Frente POLISARIO is the sole legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people and that it has legal competence to present legal cases before European courts.
Despite these unequivocal legal and judicial facts, in practice the position of the European Union in this regard is still fraught with indifference and contradiction. Europe is responsible for the outbreak of the Moroccan Sahrawi conflict given the fact that Spain has not yet fulfilled its duty as a colonial administering power of Western Sahara regarding the decolonisation of the Territory. Europe is responsible for the continuation of the conflict because parties such as France and Spain continue to support the Moroccan aggressive expansionism militarily, economically and diplomatically. Europe is responsible for the suffering of the Sahrawi people because France, Spain and other parties continue to conclude agreements, contracts and partnerships that violate international law and the ruling of the European General Court itself. They encourage the Moroccan state of occupation to persist in its intransigence and rebellion against international legality and its repression and human rights abuses and massive looting of the natural resources of the Sahrawi people and keeping them divided between refugee camps and exile and occupation and oppression.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I regret to say that the just and peaceful solution to the Moroccan Sahrawi conflict is in grave danger today. The explosive situation at Al Guergarat, in southern Western Sahara, would not have arisen if the Security Council, through the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), had not failed in preventing the Moroccan transgression. Because of this failure, the Sahrawi army was forced to intervene to prevent Morocco from annexing new territories and changing the status quo established under the military agreement nº 1 that regulates the relationship between MINURSO and the two parties to the conflict.
There is no doubt that the Moroccan state of occupation is the responsible for this threat through its repeated escalation and provocation. However, the prime responsibility lies with the UN Security Council because it has failed since 1991 in implementing and defending its decisions aiming at the decolonisation of Western Sahara.
The UN Security Council is responsible for the impasse confronting the conflict today because it has unfortunately allowed MINURSO to be an exception, thus subjecting it to the will of the Moroccan military illegal occupation. Unlike other peacekeeping operations that operate in line with certain standards and procedures, no such considerations have been taken in the case of MINURSO in terms of car license plates, entry visas and monitoring of human rights as well as ensuring freedom of observers to visit the Territory and interacting with the population and the like.
Because of its continuous indifference and indecisiveness, the UN Security Council has given the Moroccan state of occupation a free hand to rebel against international legality and to attack the authority of the Council itself by expressing its unwillingness to cooperate with the UN Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy, expelling the political and administrative component of MINURSO and breaching blatantly the cease-fire.
If the UN Security Council has a collective responsibility in this regard, France in particular, as a permanent member of the Council, has systematically sabotaged the implementation of international legality. It continues to provide protection for the Moroccan obstructionist position and has blocked the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2006 and prevented that MINURSO be mandated to protect human rights.
France is today a stumbling block that continues to impede the Security Council from taking critical decisions that may give back to the Council its prestige. For this reason, it is responsible for any serious deterioration in the tense situation at Al Guergarat, where the Moroccan and Sahrawi armies are separated by a distance of not more than 120 meters.
Peace in Western Sahara is in danger. The UN Security Council therefore should take a decisive decision to enforce expeditiously the provisions of the UN-OAU Settlement Plan endorsed by the Council and signed by the two parties to the conflict, which aims at holding a free and fair referendum in which the Sahrawi people would exercise their right to self-determination and independence.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The occupied territories of the Sahrawi Republic live under blockade at a time when the Moroccan state of occupation persists in repression and torture, detention and various forms of gross violations of human rights in addition to its systematic expulsion of independent international observers from the occupied Territory. Perhaps there are among us today some of those who have been subjected to this disgraceful treatment that is unfortunately met with complicit indifference by governments and international institutions including the European Union.
On this occasion, we call for the lifting of the unjust blockade, the removal of the wall of the Moroccan occupation, which is a crime against humanity, the end of human rights abuses and the plundering of natural resources as well as providing MINURSO with an effective mechanism to protect, monitor and report on human rights.
In a suspicious move, the Moroccan state of occupation suddenly decided to withdraw the sentence passed by a military tribunal against the prisoners of Gdeim Izik, while keeping them under severe detention and ill-treatment conditions. There is no justification for their detention in Moroccan prisons, and they should be released immediately along with all other Sahrawi political prisoners. The Moroccan State of Occupation should also account for the whereabouts of all Sahrawi disappeared owing to the Moroccan military invasion of Western Sahara on 31 October 1975.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Sahrawi people, I would like to convey to you, members of the solidarity movement, our sincere thanks and appreciation and to pay tribute to the heroes who have left us. We salute all continental, national and regional parliamentary and friendship associations and groups and specialised bodies such as the International Western Sahara Resource Watch, among others.
Your standing by our people in their plight is a noble message to all nations and peoples of the world. Your principled positions ease the suffering of the Sahrawi people, reinforce their confidence and assure them that they are not alone in their struggle for freedom and dignity. The commitment and devotion to such lofty principles is clearly reflected by the European Coordination, headed by dear brother and friend Mr Pierre Galland and other honourable members, which has maintained its firm position since the first days of the Moroccan invasion of Western Sahara.
The Sahrawi people are still in desperate need of more support and assistance. The Moroccan state of occupation persists in its policies of oppression, impoverishment and destruction of livelihoods and plunder of the natural resources in the occupied territories. In the meantime, the refugees are suffering not only from the harsh conditions and natural disasters but also from repeated attempts to reduce the humanitarian aid, which is already insufficient.
I would also like to express our most sincere greetings to sisterly Algeria and its government and people for the principled position in support for the just struggle of the Sahrawi people. The firm position that Algeria has exhibited from the very beginning underlines the need for the implementation of the UN Charter and resolutions based on the respect for the free and sovereign will of the Sahrawi people.
Our many thanks also go to Africa and its great organisation, the African Union, which has been strongly committed to defending the cause of the Sahrawi people as the last decolonisation issue on the continent considering that the freedom of Africa will be incomplete without enabling the Sahrawi people to regain their legitimate rights.
As we are proud to belong to Africa, we are also proud of our present and future cultural and geographical relations with Spanish and Latin American peoples.
I would like to take this occasion to convey our greetings and appreciation to the immense movement of solidarity that reflects the fraternal and sincere attitude of the Spanish peoples regarding the Sahrawi people.
We look forward to seeing the Spanish state assuming its legal and moral duty towards our people by achieving expeditiously the decolonisation of Western Sahara. Spain is still, and perhaps more than ever, part of this problem that cannot be barred by any statute of limitation; it started in the past but it is still an integral part of the present.
We are not opposed to relations between Spain and Morocco in all fields, but it would be a heinous crime if the price to be paid would be more conspiracy against the blood, sweat and suffering of the Sahrawi people.
Spain of 2016 is not Spain of 1975, and there is no justification for not correcting this error because the democratic transition will remain incomplete as long as the Spanish state has not removed the stigma represented by the infamous Madrid Accords. The new government and the new parliament are called upon to act seriously to end the tragedy of the Sahrawi people by means of a referendum of self-determination. If Spain manages to do this, which it is able and legally bound to do, it will achieve a historic reconciliation with itself and with its history, and will contribute to the triumph of justice, democracy and peace.
Long live free and independent Western Sahara!
Strength, Determination and Tenacity to enforce Independence and Sovereignty!
Thank you! (SPS)