Western Sahara: Aminatou Haidar Deported

Photo of Aminatou Haidar by saharauiak

Photo of Aminatou Haidar by saharauiak

Aminatou Haidar is a leading activist for independence of the Western Sahara (from Morocco).  Born in 1967, she was “disappeared” by Moroccan authorities for her activism at age twenty, only to reemerge three years later.  In 2005, Haidar was arrested for her participation in a protest and sentenced to seven months in prison for “inciting violent protest activities.”  Amnesty International deemed her a prisoner of conscience, questioning the fairness of her trial and those of 6 others.  Since her release, she has been honored with the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, and most recently awarded the Civil Courage Prize in New York, all for her work defending human rights in the Western Sahara.

Regardless of the accolades given to her, Haidar lived – until recently – in Morocco with great fear of being arrested; that is until Friday, November 13 when, upon returning to Laayoune (a city in the Western Sahara region), she was arrested and subsequently deported.  According to the Christian Science Monitor, authorities took issue with her writing “Western Sahara” on her customs forms.  According to Moroccan officials, Haidar renounced and “willingly signed away” her Moroccan citizenship.  She was then sent to Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, and later granted Spanish residency on humanitarian grounds, according to Spanish news organization ABC.

Pro-independence blog Sandblast reminds readers that Haidar is not the only dissident persecuted for her cause, stating:

Since October 6, fifteen well-known human rights defenders from Western Sahara have been arrested, detained and interrogated. Seven of them, known as the Casablanca 7 are being tried in a military court for acts of treason after visiting their relatives in the Saharawi refugee camps in SW Algeria. These Saharawis have been targeted for speaking out against the repression of the Moroccan occupation in their homeland and advocating their self-determination rights as recognized by the UN charter and over a 100 UN resolutions. In August, the Moroccan authorities prevented six Saharawi youths from traveling to the UK to participate in the Oxford-based programme Talk Together, which promote dialogue between youth in areas of conflict.

Spanish blogger Bilbaobilonia, referencing a recent speech in which Moroccan King Mohammed VI stated that anyone supporting the Sahara's independence is a traitor, expressed support [es] of Haidar:

Ya lo dijo el rey Mohamed VI en su discurso conmemorativo de la Marcha Verde: en Marruecos sólo se puede ser patriota o traidor.  Claro que, si alguien se toma la molestia de examinar las raquíticas libertades que promueve la dinastía alauí o la persecución a la que somete a la disidencia saharaui , es fácil llegar a la conclusión de que en Marruecos, la traición es la forma más noble de patriotismo.

As King Mohammed VI already said in his speech commemorating the Green March: A Moroccan can only be a patriot or a traitor. Of course, if someone takes the trouble to examine the stunted freedoms the Alawite dynasty promotes or the persecution to which it submits Saharawi dissidents, it is easy to conclude that in Morocco, treason is the noblest form of patriotism.

Blogger One Hump or Two expresses surprise at the fact that Moroccan authorities would go after someone so well-connected:

This shows Moroccan police will go after any Sahrawi who supports a referendum, even those with international connections and support. Haidar's awards (most recently the Civil Courage Prize) weresupposed to place her outside these dangers by showing the Moroccan government the world is watching them.

Sahara Occidental continues to post media roundups on Aminatou Haidar's case.


  • Obori

    First I do admire the will of this brave lady but the writer has shown that Morocco is to blame. The conflict in Western Sahara is way more complicated. Aminatou Haidar is politically manipulated woman that is being used by Polisario and Algeria against Morocco. This lady was born in Morocco not in Western Sahara to a Moroccan father that happens to belong to a tribe in the south as thousands of Moroccans do. She was mistreated and thrown in jail as lot of activists in Morocco in the Seventies and Eighties but she was re compensated by the government. She doesn’t want to be a Moroccan any longer. Western Sahara has never been a country and Algeria is the only Arab state that does not want it to be Moroccan. Western Saharans are Arabs / Berbers and Muslims just as the Moroccans in the north are. I can not see how Morocco will accept to loose it. It will be another Somalia or Afghanistan. If it is proven that Ms Haidar is supported by Algeria, I don’t see why Morocco should let her in. There is an undeclared war between the two rivals.

  • Hicham

    As clever and twisted as this woman traitor is,when she renounced to her citizenship, did not she realise she was selling her kids and people cheap for an Algerian agenda? what’s the hell she is striking for now?!!

  • hamid

    nice conversation about a woman who was born in Akka(is in north of Morocco) away from moroccan sahara first.
    why spanish don’t give independance for basque ?
    why algeria doesn’t give independance au kabylies who fighting since 1963 ? and also touerg sahraoui in south of algeria?
    and what about FIS (front islamique) who won election 1992 ?
    where is human right ?
    where is UN ?
    your game is finished

  • USgreenjeans

    It is unfortunate this situation has escalated to the point whereby people of reason can not control it.
    Many who are conveying their opinions herein are ABSOLUTELY IGNORING International Law.As a Citizen of the US of Moroccan decent, anywhere I travel, my Nationality is conrolled by my PASSPORT, and in this case the US PASSPORT I CARRY TO CROSS borders. May it be in France, UK, Spain, Mrocco, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and many other Nations I had the priviledge to visit, I have to fill the “Arrival Forms” accordingly stating the I am a US Citizen based on the Passport I have in my possession. This rule has been agreed to by all United Nations Country Members. Then, how could Mrs. Haidar, upon her arrival on MOROCCAN SOIL refuses to declare HER NATIONALITY while she has in her POSSESSION a Moroccan Passport and Moroccan ID.?
    Well she declares she is a “Sahraoui Citizen”=fine. Such countrey does not EXIST. The Moroccan immigration Services can NOT accept her in this case as it would be if she landed in the US as an example. Because if she did and declared such, the US IMMIGRATION Services can not and will not let her in as such NATIONALITY is not regnozed by any Nation on this planet.
    The root cause to the entire situation is Algeria who is using these innocent people for their hegemonic gain to disrupt Morocco’s internal systems. So, if all those of you, who are sitting confortably in your homes hiding behind your computers wish to reght about the situation, the I advise you to “STUDY” and its International Political ramifications before you ATTACK Morocco. The old sayiong goes: ” it takes 2 to tangle”. Why doesn’t Algeria give the Lady a Passport, so she can go to Tindouf??? Otherwise the People of Almouradia palace and the Algerian Generals can find the solution. Morocco has done enough, so let it be, and I wish to convey to the Algerian Regime: ” LET MY PEOPLE GO”. THOSE HELD AGAINST THEIR WILL in the Tindouf have had enough and they wish to go back HOME. Let them go.

  • The world must understand that Aminatou Haidar is being manipulated by the Algerian secret services and that her seeking support from foreign parties will not undermine Morocco’s will to go ahead in defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity .Ms.Aminatou Haidar,the separatist, went to a point of no return. She rejected her citizenship voluntarily . On November 13th.She listed “Sahrawi” as her nationality and “Western Sahara” as her country of origin even though she was traveling with a Moroccan passport. Mrs. Aminatou Haider has signed in the presence of her family members and of her own free will official documents renouncing her Moroccan nationality and citizenship. She has violated the law and claimed a nationality that is not recognized by both the U.N. and Morocco.
    No surprise, then, as to why she was not allowed to enter the country. Mrs. Aminatou Haider, who holds a Spanish residency permit, departed Morocco and returned to the Canary Islands, Spain, where she has refused Spain’s refugee status offer and pretended that she is going on a hunger strike.
    Ms. Aminatou Haidar, who claims to be a human rights activist, is actually working closely with the Western Sahara Separatist group, Polisario, and their backer, Algeria’s Military Regime. In Fact, She is currently working closely with Algeria’s Ambassador in Washington, Mr. Abdallah Baali , who is coordinating and funding her “human rights” lobbying activities in the US.
    The goal of Ms. Aminatou Haidar, the Polisario and the Military regime in Algiera is the same. They want to neutralize Morocco’s Autonomy plan, a plan, that is considered by most major powers to be the basis for resolving the Sahara issue in a peaceful manner.
    Algeria’s current lobbying through proxies such as Ms. Aminatou Haidar and others aims to keep the status Quo in the Sahara by advancing the independence as the only option.
    In the minds of Algeria’s strategists, keeping Morocco mired in the current situation costs it substantial resources and mitigates any resistance that Morocco would pose to Algeria’s ambition to become a regional power in North Africa. Algeria’s long-term objective is to secure access to the Atlantic ocean through a client “state” such as a “Sahrawi Republic” in the disputed region.
    Algeria and polisario’s plan for an independent state in southern Morocco is a non-starter. A state in southern morocco constitutes an existential threat to both Morocco and its leadership. Most independent analysts dismiss such an option because it would destabilize the entire North African Region, hasten a military conflict between the two protagonists, empower a new generation of terrorist groups(the kidnapping of three Spanish tourists in Mauritania) and unleash an unprecedented wave of refugees on European southern shores.
    Algeria, which acts as a defender of self-determination, does not hesitate to violate the basic rights of its own people andthe Moroccan people held captive in Tindouf camps for three decades, refusing to let these populations exercise self-determination over their wish to leave the camps.
    The Sahara issue is Algeria’s main concern, not to say obsession . Algeria,which depicts itself as “a neighboring country” to Morocco, offers a haven, trains and finances separatists who threaten peace and security in the region.
    Instead of using its resources to solve its socio-economic problems of housing, health and water supply, this country finances polisario’s armament.
    Algeria is not a mere observer country as it pretends but is actively involved in the Sahara issue since its outbreak.It conducts, on a daily basis, a hostile diplomatic campaign against Morocco.

    Last November, the US secretary of State Hilary Clinton attended a forum on the future of the Middle East & North Africa, in Marrakech, Morocco where she reaffirmed the US longstanding policy that supports the autonomy plan for the Saharan provinces under Moroccan sovereignty as the only realistic solution to end the 34 years old conflict.
    The Algerian press sharply criticized secretary Clinton’s statements in a wave of misogynistic criticism and the Western Sahara separatist group, Polisario, has accused US secretary of State Hilary Clinton of misstating the US policy on the Sahara conflict.
    In 2006, Morocco has offered an autonomy plan for Western Sahara as a solution to end the conflict and provide a future for thousands of refugees, now, living in desperate conditions in Algeria’s desert camps.
    In addition, Morocco has initiated major reforms to build sustainable economical development to counter poverty and violence, it has implemented a new family code that was hailed by most women rights groups worldwide as unique in the Muslim World, it has established the committee of equity and reconciliation to investigate and settle past cases of human rights violations.
    The Moroccan autonomy plan was backed by a majority in the US congress and praised by many European countries and was considered by the UN as a basis for a peaceful solution.
    Ms. Aminatou Haidar, who is hailed by her supporter as a human rights defender, is actively working with Algeria and the polisario to torpedo the current UN peace negotiations with Morocco. She is financed by Algeria’s billion dollars oil bonanza that is currently being mismanaged by the Algeria’s generals while Algerian citizens are mired in countless underdevelopment problems.
    Ms Aminatou Haidar is in fact working hard to keep the Sahrawi refugees, who are stranded in the Algerian desert camps, for another 34 years in the same conditions, while she and her fellow polisario cohorts, jet around the world and enjoy luxury VIP treatment.
    Given the current political situation between Morocco, Algeria and the polisario, Mrs. Aminatou Haider’s behavor is an unacceptable provocation.So, her case is neither in hands of Morocco nor Spain but the Polisario’s.

    Signed by Beniazza Mohammed

  • yassine

    all this needs is common sense !
    why u people think that MOROCCO will give her a passport ?
    she was asked , MADAM are u MOROCCAN she replied NO . so why on earth u want MOROCCO to grant her a MOROCCAN passport .
    if she’s not Moroccan , then she can die in Spain or in Algeria .

  • Omar Karim

    Aminatou Haidar is definitely playing a game. Her hunger strike is unwarranted . It is a move to create tension over the Sahara especially when the UN is engaged to find a negotiated settlement to the issue. Ms Haidar was born in Morocco. Her father and family also live in Morocco. She was compensated 50,000 eu by the government of Morocco in line with the policy of reconciliation. She was given a Moroccan passport. Yet she sided with Algeria and the so-called Polisario. It is strange indeed to notice that Ms Haidar wanted to hold Moroccan passport and disown Morocco simultaneously! No nation in the world would accept such a behavior. Morocco used the international law by expelling her outside Morocco. However, Ms Haidar has a political agenda and started a hunger strike to malign Morocco. There are reports suggesting that Ms Haidar was secretly eating and drinking while she is on huger strike! One should expose the blackmail of Ms Haidar, Polisario and Algeria. The latter is spending huge money on propaganda campaign to falsely malign Morocco.

    Omar Karim Islamabad

  • John Rivera

    This is all an elaborate separatist propaganda!

    There was never a country in history called Western Sahara. It is simple really: Morocco has existed in the region since the 800’s AD and historically extended through out the currently disputed area until colonized by France and Spain. The latter took over the southern parts which gave back to Morocco in 1975 after the Green March in the Madrid Accord. Shortly after, a separatist group named Polisario decided they wanted to be separate and form their own country. Backed by the neighboring Algeria, they waged war against morocco from 1976 to 1991 after a UN brokered cease fire to allow for a referendum. Unfortunately both sides disagreed on who should be allowed to cast votes and the situation stagnated for the last 23 years.

    Western Sahara is a territory the size of England with a population of a medium city (~500k) and international observers agree about the impossibility of such a state to exist in a region plagued with conflicts and terrorist activities.


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