DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" ""> Indépendance et Paix pour Le peuple Sahraoui: Moroccan authorities return passport to the Rafto laureate

Indépendance et Paix pour Le peuple Sahraoui

mercredi, décembre 06, 2006

Moroccan authorities return passport to the Rafto laureate

In late October the Rafto Foundation, together with the NorwegianStudents' and Academics' International Assistance Fund (SAIH), NorwegianRefugee Council and 30 other Norwegian initiated a campaign to urgeMoroccan authorities to immediately return the passport of Sidi MohammedDaddach, the 2002 Rafto Prize Laureate and former Saharawi prisoner ofconscience. The campaign was a success and on November 23, Daddach had hispassport returned after three and a half years.The Rafto Foundation received the good news on December 4 via an e-mailfrom Sidi Mohammed Daddach.«I am very thankful to you and to the institution for the great job youdid concerning the pressure you did to free my passport. The letters yousent to the Moroccan minister of Interior had great effects on freeing mypassport. That enabled me to visit my beloved mother in the Saharawi campsin Tindouf, Algeria. »The passport of Mr. Sidi Mohammed Daddach was confiscated on March 23,2003. Mr. Daddach was arrested by the Moroccan authorities at the airportin Casablanca, when he tried to travel to Geneva to meet with the UN HumanRights Commission.The campaign to re-claim Daddach's passport and to provide him with validtraveling documents was initiated in connection with the 20 yearsanniversary of the Rafto Prize November 4, 2006. Daddach together with allformer Rafto Prize laureates was invited to attend a human rightssymposium in Bergen, Norway.Daddach did not receive his passport in time to attend the Rafto's 20thanniversary; however, he has now been able to travel to Algeria to say afinal goodbye to his mother who lives in one of the refugee camps inTindouf. She is 91 years old and has a bad health. The only thing thatkept her alive was the hope of seeing her son again.- We are very happy to hear that Daddach was finally able to see hismother again, most likely for the last time. For human rights activiststhis is a victory and it is an example of how coordinated actions fromvarious NGOs can have an effect on governments, says Arne L. Lynngهrd, theRafto Foundation.The last time Daddach met his mother was in November 2002. After strongpressure from Norwegian NGOs and diplomatic efforts from Norway, theKingdom of Morocco agreed that Sidi Mohammed Daddach could travel toNorway to receive the 2002 Rafto Prize. In Bergen he was able to meet forthe first time, after some 27 years of separation, with his mother andsister, who had come from the Tindouf refugee camps especially for theoccasion.In his report to the Security Council in 2003 on the situation concerningWestern Sahara (S/2003/59) the Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated thefollowing: «I wish to express my appreciation to all those who contributedto this, albeit temporary, family reunification».BackgroundIn 2002 Mr. Sidi Mohamed Daddach, a former Saharawi prisoner ofconscience, was awarded the Rafto Prize. Daddach is a strong symbol forthe suffering of the Saharawi people and their struggle forself-determination. In spite of having spent more than half his life as aprisoner of conscience, Daddach has never given up the struggle for theSaharawi people's basic rights and for human dignity. He has pointed outserious violations of Human Rights, not least the political prisoners'situation and the destiny of the many hundred Saharawis who have"disappeared" since 1975.


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