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Human rights champion honoured

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South African international climate activist and human rights defender Catherine Constantinides has been recognised by the Saharawi National Commission for Human Rights (CONASADH) as an honorary member.
She was awarded this membership earlier this week at the Saharawi refugee camps, south-west of Algeria. She has been working actively in the camps for the past four years.
The president of CONASADH, Abba Salek Elhassan, said: “This is an expression of gratitude to her steady defence of the Saharawi people’s right to self-determination and for her global efforts in favour of the respect of human rights in Western Sahara.”
Constantinides has been working to educate civil society and communities around the world about the forgotten people of Africa, the Saharawi. She is no stranger to international platforms, including the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva.
Constantinides was quoted as saying: “I do all that I do because, simply put, I have seen the truth. I can never rest until justice is done and the Saharawi people are treated with dignity and respect, and until the Saharawi people are given their inalienable right to self-determination and freedom to choose their destiny, we cannot rest. I will tell their story and share the truth at every opportunity I have, and I will be there on the day that they celebrate their independence.
“It is a great honour to receive this membership. As a South African I am proud to be able to stand in solidarity with my fellow African brothers and sisters, the Saharawi people. I will carry this membership with both honour and dignity and an immense responsibility to amplify efforts as we work on the struggle of policy and power, ensuring that the question of Western Sahara remains on the agenda until their right to self-determination is realised.”
The Western Sahara is illegally occupied by Morocco and has been since 1975. It is dubbed the ‘Last Colony in Africa’. It was previously a Spanish colony between 1884 and 1975, when Spain failed to finish the decolonisation process it promised to achieve.
Instead, Spain, Morocco and Mauritania signed a secret agreement to divide this African territory into two parts, to be militarily controlled by Morocco from the north and Mauritania from the south, while Spain maintained privileged economic interests, especially in the illegal exploitation of the rich fisheries and phosphate of Western Sahara.
Constantinides is one of the champions behind an international solidarity campaign being launched by the Saharawi National Commission for Human Rights alongside other NGOs, both in the refugee camps and occupied territory, and human rights activists from around the world. The campaign will be launched on Africa Day, May 25. (SPS)