This Saturday, 19 June, saw the closing of the March for the Freedom of the Sahrawi People, with a demonstration that brought together tens of thousands of Spaniards and Sahrawis to demand that the government of Pedro Sánchez assume the obligation that Spain has as the administering power of Western Sahara, “not only to protect its citizens, but to facilitate the development of a referendum of self-determination so that the territory ceases to be the last colony of Africa”.
The arrival in Madrid has been the end of weeks in which marchers from all over Spain have travelled the country denouncing the conflict that the Saharawi people are living and recalling the historical debt of Spain, which handed over part of the Saharawi territory to Morocco in 1975, with the promise – based on agreements signed with the approval of the United Nations – of a referendum of self-determination, which has never been carried out. Occupied territories, in which the Alaouite monarchy systematically violates human rights while plundering the natural resources that belong to the Saharawi people.
The demonstration ended at the Puerta del Sol, where Spanish political and trade union representatives, as well as the Saharawi Delegate for Spain, Abdulah Arabi, addressed those present, ending the event with the reading of the Manifesto of the March.
The Manifesto was read by the singer and composer, feminist and defender of human rights, Cristina del Valle, after which she claimed the fundamental role of women (of the National Union of Saharawi Women) in the camps and the solidarity of Cuba with the Saharawi people.
Transcript of the Manifesto
Western Sahara, a former Spanish province, has been in exile, repression and occupation for 45 years, without having been given a solution in accordance with international law. Spain, as the administering power, has the obligation, not only to protect its citizens, but also to facilitate the holding of a referendum on self-determination so that the territory ceases to be the last colony in Africa.
Faced with the current situation of war, caused by the violation of the “ceasefire” by Morocco, and the silence of the Spanish Government, and the evasion and abandonment of its political and historical responsibility since 1975; all this, with the complicity of the UN, who looks the other way while human rights are systematically violated in the area occupied by Morocco, the associations, groups, organisations and civil society in general, who subscribe to this document, declare the following:
We express our strongest condemnation of the new aggression perpetrated by the Moroccan army against the Saharawi population, as well as our total rejection of the unacceptable behaviour of the Spanish Government in the face of the worrying events in Western Sahara.
We urge the Spanish Government to fulfil its obligations as the administering power of the Saharawi territory pending decolonisation so that the Saharawi population can gain access to their freedom and independence and, in turn, we demand that the Spanish Government immediately cease the sale and donation of arms to the Moroccan army.
We denounce the crimes against humanity committed by Morocco in the Occupied Territories of Western Sahara and the ongoing harassment and brutality with which the Moroccan apparatus of repression treats the Saharawi civilian population, activists and journalists. We therefore call for the urgent intervention of international human rights observers, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to guarantee the fundamental rights of the Saharawi population.
In the same vein, we request the mediation of the Spanish government so that the Saharawi prisoners, many of whom are unjustly sentenced to sentences of between 10 and 30 years, and even life imprisonment, are released as soon as possible.
We also urge Spanish companies to stop their plundering activity in Western Sahara, not only because it contravenes international law, but also because the only legitimate owner of these resources and their legal representative is the Saharawi population, whose fundamental rights are being trampled upon.
For all these reasons, we demand from the Spanish Government coherence and firmness in its defence of International Law and the support and respect for the legitimate right to freedom of the Saharawi people, as well as the formal recognition of the diplomatic status of the Polisario Front, as the sole and legitimate representative of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic.
Through this manifesto, we ask civil society and its organisations to join this march for the freedom of the Saharawi people, for dignity, political and historical debts and, above all, for solidarity between peoples.
Photos of the demonstration