WESTERN SAHARA: Poor in our rich land!

wsaharaEDITOR’S NOTE: Western Sahara is Africa’s last colony, still under illegal occupation by Morocco with support from Western powers, particularly France and the US. Moroccan authorities are responsible for atrocious violations of the human rights of the Sahrawi people for all the 40 years they have occupied the territory. Morocco has defied with impunity over 100 UN resolutions regarding the status of Western Sahara and the UN Security Council seems inexplicably unable to mandate its peacekeeping mission in the territory (MINURSO) to monitor and protect Saharawi civilians from the systematic Moroccan oppression and humiliation.

This is one Saharawi man’s tale of woe about his experiences under the Moroccan occupation. You can read more about Western Sahara here: http://pambazuka.org/en/issue/618, http://pambazuka.org/en/issue/551

The story I’m going to tell you is about the reality I have been living in for the past 38 years, nearly as long as the time of the Moroccan state’s presence in the city of Dakhla and I will tell stories about many persons living in the city of Dakhla.

I was born in 1977 in the city of Dakhla to a Saharawi family which has lived in this city for centuries, according to the information I have, and I began studying in 1984. Throughout my schooling, I met people of my age and some of them will be part of this true story, in order to reflect the image of this forgotten city.

YASSIN: A Moroccan man who arrived with his family in the city of Dakhla from Agadir, a northern Moroccan city, whose father was in the military and worked at the border. He began studying with me and continued his studies. We lived in the same neighbourhood and went to school in the same department. I think I was smarter than him. He lacked intelligence and willingness to learn but nevertheless he is today employed at one of the state institutions. He is married and has three children; he has a house, a car and a library, and he told me that he has built two houses in Agadir and is thinking of establishing a real estate company.

RASHID: This man arrived with his family in the city of Dakhla-Villa Cisneros coming from Marrakech in 1975, in the so-called “Green March”. He arrived at El Aaiún and then moved to Dakhla because his father is a fisherman and wanted to work in the city of Dakhla. He lived in a very small house, and like his father he became a fisherman, fishing for a living and providing for their daily needs. But today Rashid has eight boats (small traditional boats). He bought some type of a new model car, is married and has four children and he rents houses to indigenous people.

NADIA: This girl arrived with her mother in the early 1980s. She married a policeman but after a few years the policeman moved to another city. She stayed with her mother and in the early 1990s the girl and her mother engaged in prostitution. Today they possess houses for rent in the city of Dakhla, a taxi and a big villa-type house.

BUTCHER: A young man arrived in the city of Dakhla, I can´t determine the exact period of time he lived in his first house, and then he moved to become a butcher, selling meat. Later on, he became vice-president of the chamber of commerce and a great businessman in the city.

SAID: Is a young man who moved with his family to the city of Dakhla, where his father was a teacher. He completed his studies and he is today an employee in agriculture. He is married to another young Moroccan girl who has a project in fisheries. She arrived years ago in the city and possesses property.

ME (the story teller): After 38 years I had a monthly salary that did not exceed $150. I am unemployed now and I have no house. I studied and I was very intelligent; I desired to become a doctor as my uncle who died in Western Sahara´s war between Polisario Front [freedom movement] and Morocco.

I want to ask the following questions:

• Why does the Moroccan state destroy us?

• Why does it facilitate opportunities for Moroccans and none for us?

• Why are the Saharawi people for decades in the barren land seeing Moroccans divide their land and wealth?

• Why does it make us consumers instead of producers?

Why does it control every breath of each of us and intimidate us every day?

• Why does it not allow us to work and produce?

• Why does it contribute to make us so poor that we cannot even get married and to become a minority in our homeland?

• Why does it want to make us weak and coward and divided in every detail?

• Why does it try to prevent us from learning?

• Why does it torture and imprison us?

• Why are we divided and deprived of our homes? On the other hand it is there to help Moroccan families to settle in our homeland?

• Why are Moroccan families encouraged to reproduce, each family being offered Moroccan food and material assistance when family members reach eight?

• Why is the Moroccan state bringing here thousands of settlers every day, month and year?

• Why does it not allow us to reproduce?

• Why do we have no authority whatsoever in our country?

• Why? Why is that? Why? … The only possible answer is: because we are the enemy!

• Do we ask Morocco to give us from its resources?

• Do Western Sahara and the Sahrawi people deserve all this?

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