Saharawi Moroccans Alliance Denounces Recruitment of Children in Tindouf Camps in

Rabat – The Alliance of Moroccan Sahrawis in Europe for Development and Solidarity (ASMEDS) and the “White Dove” organisation have been holding a sit-in in Geneva since July 01. The initiative called “Open Days on Polisario’s Crimes” took place on the sidelines of the 41st session of the Human Rights Council (June 24-July 12). It is part of a campaign to raise international awareness about the recruitment of child soldiers, especially in the Tindouf camps.The Alliance staged a similar sit-in in March 2019 during the previous Human Rights Council session in order to denounce “the forceful enlistment of children in the Tindouf camps, in violation of international law.” The sit-in organisers stated that they seek to “draw the public’s attention to human rights violations perpetrated by Polisario, especially against children who are snatched from their families for training on the use of firearms and explosives.”“Many children have died after handling explosive devices before being buried in anonymity, while survivors are usually enlisted in armies, guerrillas or terrorist groups,” read one of the protest banners.ASMEDS Secretary General, Ali Jeddou, explained that the sit-in aims to alert the international community to the massive human rights violations taking place in the Tindouf camps.Protesters urged the international community and international humanitarian organisations to urgently intervene in the case of families confined to the Tindouf camps. The camps are currently under the control of the Polisario Front which, according to the protesters, “violates the most basic human rights.”Human rights violationsMustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud, ex-Polisario member and former commanding officer in the Tindouf camps, has condemned Polisario’s actions over the years. In one of his Facebook posts, Salma said that Sahrawis are no longer concerned by “independence” or “integrity”. He explains that Sahrawis simply want to live in “dignity and to have a future” for their children in a place “where they will not live [through] what their parents experienced.”He further explained in a statement to Morocco World News that “Polisario makes the obtention of official documents – such as the Sahrawi card which is needed for all services and work in the camps – contingent on a period of military training for Saharawis of all ages”Robert M. Holley, Director of  the Moroccan American Center for Policy, said in his publication “Cuba and the Polisario Front” (2005) that “each year between 350 and 500 young Sahrawi children between the ages of 9 and 11 are still being separated from their parents and sent to Cuba [for military training] for periods up to 15 years or more.”He went on to say that “classes in communist ideology remain mandatory for these children who get a steady diet of Cuban ideology and anti-American and anti-western propaganda as part of their ‘educational experience.’”But the Polisario has continuously dismissed these reports as “unfounded.” In 2008, Sidi Mohamed Omar, Polisario’s UK representative, told Child Soldiers International, “no Sahrawi in the Sahrawi refugee camps in south-west Algeria who is under the age of 18 years, receives any military training, or participates actively in situations of armed conflict.”

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