Polisario Front Accused of Human Rights Abuses in Tindouf Refugee Camps

The Polisario Front's alleged human rights abuses against Sahrawi refugees in Tindouf camps, including the arrest of a woman protesting land dispossession, spark calls for intervention by rights groups and the UN to address these violations.

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Shivani Chauhan
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Polisario Front Accused of Human Rights Abuses in Tindouf Refugee Camps

Polisario Front Accused of Human Rights Abuses in Tindouf Refugee Camps

The Movement Saharawi for Peace (MSP) has called on Human Rights Watch to intervene and secure the release of Mahmouda Mint Hameida Ould Said, a 60-year-old woman who was arrested by the Polisario Front Gendarmerie in the Tindouf refugee camps in Algeria. Mahmouda had been protesting against a measure by Polisario authorities that dispossessed her of a plot of land where she had set up a small business.

In a letter to Eric Goldstein, the North Africa Director General of Human Rights Watch, the MSP denounced the repressive practices of the Polisario leadership against Sahrawi refugees, which they consider a systematic violation of human rights and freedoms. The MSP urged Human Rights Watch to persuade the Polisario authorities to cease their repressive policies and release Mahmouda so she can be reunited with her family.

The Moroccan League for Citizenship and Human Rights (LMCDH) has also condemned the Polisario Front's kidnapping of Mahmouda after she protested the attack on her shop. The LMCDH alleges that Sahrawis detained in the camps are not allowed access to the Algerian judiciary or to file complaints with Algerian institutions. They claim the Polisario armed organization, which is politically supported and armed by the Algerian military regime, is responsible for the physical safety of the detainees.

Why this matters: The allegations of human rights abuses by the Polisario Front in the Tindouf refugee camps raise serious concerns about the treatment of Sahrawi refugees. The case of Mahmouda Mint Hameida Ould Said highlights the need for greater oversight and protection of human rights in the camps.

The LMCDH has called on the Algerian Human Rights Council to intervene to ensure that the detainees' rights are not violated, and on the United Nations to supervise a general census of the detainees in the Tindouf camps. They have also urged the Moroccan government and parliament to designate the Polisario as a "terrorist organization that threatens peace and stability in the region."

The MSP and LMCDH's accusations against the Polisario Front shed light on the ongoing human rights concerns in the Tindouf refugee camps. The arrest of Mahmouda Mint Hameida Ould Said for protesting the dispossession of her land and business demonstrates the repressive measures employed by Polisario authorities against Sahrawi refugees. The calls for intervention by Human Rights Watch and the Algerian Human Rights Council highlight the urgent need to address these alleged violations and ensure the safety and rights of those detained in the camps.

Key Takeaways

  • Sahrawi woman arrested by Polisario Front for protesting land seizure
  • MSP calls on Human Rights Watch to intervene and secure her release
  • Moroccan rights group condemns Polisario's alleged human rights abuses
  • Calls for Algerian council and UN to address violations in Tindouf camps
  • Allegations of Polisario's repressive measures against Sahrawi refugees