Spain: Protesters call for referendum in W. Sahara as Morocco launches op. in disputed territory

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Sahrawi activists gathered in front of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Madrid on Saturday to call for a referendum of self-determination in the territory of Western Sahara, currently under Moroccan control.

Protesters waved flags of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic in support of the pro-independent movement Polisario Front and chanted slogans against Morocco and Spain.

Spokesmen of different Sahrawi organisations entered the Ministry to deliver a manifesto to the Spanish authorities.

Sidi Talebbuia, president of the Professional Association of Saharawi Lawyers in Spain, said that “the only thing the Sahrawi people want and demand is a referendum of self-determination, an impartial and democratic referendum, with all the guarantees, but if they don't give us another option than war, logically we are forced to return to it".

After almost 30 years of ceasefire, Morocco launched on Friday a military operation in the Guerguerat region, a UN-patrolled buffer zone in Western Sahara.

Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, was occupied by Morocco and Mauritania in 1975, but Mauritania renounced to its territorial claims in 1979, after signing a peace agreement with Polisario Front.

The armed struggle against Morocco ended in 1991 after an armistice was signed with the condition of holding a referendum of self-determination, which never took place.

*SOUNDBITES*

SOT, Protester (Spanish): "The defence of our legitimate rights is above all and today, as women, as young people, we are an army defending the cause."

SOT, Nana Burhah, protester (Spanish): “[You have been] stealing our sand for 45 years to take it to your beaches, stealing our fish for 45 years to say that the Galician octopus is Galician, when it is Sahrawi. Stop it! No one is going to laugh at us, it's over! We have asked for it peacefully, but it seems that they are not listening to us, it's over!"

SOT, Sidi Talebbuia, President of the Professional Association of Saharawi Lawyers in Spain (Spanish): “The only thing the Sahrawi people want and demand is a referendum of self-determination, an impartial and democratic referendum, with all the guarantees, but if they don't give us another option than war, logically we are forced to return to it".

SOT, Nana Burhah, protester (Spanish): "There should have been a referendum long time ago, but after what we have seen, everyone promises things to us, but no one does anything. The only way we have left is to answer with weapons which is what our people are already doing there."

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Category
Morocco
Tags
morocco, spain, sahrawi, activists, protest