MSP urges Human Rights Watch to intervene against Polisario repression in Tindouf

The organisation called for urgent intervention for the immediate release of Mahmouda Mint Hameida Ould Said 
Campamento de refugiados de Tinduf, Argelia - PHOTO/FILE
Tindouf refugee camp, Algeria - PHOTO/FILE

In a letter addressed to Eric Goldstein, North Africa Director General of Human Rights Watch, the Movement Saharawi for Peace (MSP) has requested an urgent intervention of the human rights organisation for the immediate release of Mahmouda Mint Hameida Ould Said, arrested by the Polisario Front Gendarmerie last Sunday and taken to the prison of "Dheibiya" 30 kilometres southeast of the Algerian city of Tindouf. 

The text of the letter signed by the head of International Relations of the MSP, Mohamed Cherif reads: 

Dear Mr Goldstein, 

I hereby inform you, in your capacity as representative of Human Rights Watch, that last Sunday, April 14, units of the Gendarmerie of the Polisario Front intervened to dismantle the jaima (canvas tent) of Mahmuda Mint Hameida Ould Said being taken, by force, to the prison of "Dheibiya", in the vicinity of Rabuni, the administrative centre of the Polisario to the southeast of the Algerian city of Tindouf. 

Mrs Mahmuda Mint Said, a mother and grandmother of more than 60 years old, had been protesting for days against a measure of the Polisario authorities who had dispossessed her of a plot of land where she had set up a small business.  

Following this incident, Mrs Mahmuda, known for her activism in favour of freedoms, set up a "jaima" in front of the Polisario administrative offices in Rabuni a couple of weeks ago in protest against what she considers an unjust and abusive measure. 

Yesterday, in view of her refusal to appear before the public prosecutor, Mrs Mahmuda was handcuffed and forced to present herself. 

The accusation against her and the reasons that led the Polisario authorities to use force and to apply arbitrary measures against Mrs. Mahmuda Mint Said are still unknown. 

The MSP denounces once again the repressive practices of the Polisario leadership against the Saharawi refugees in what constitutes a systematic violation of the human rights and freedoms of the civilian population concentrated in these places. 

According to various sources, the situation of poverty and deprivation, together with the siege and strict control to which the Polisario subjects the population, are generating an increasingly unsustainable situation and the unbreathable atmosphere of a humanitarian crisis on the verge of exploding. 

The MSP urges Human Rights Watch to take an interest in this situation and to take the necessary steps to persuade the Polisario authorities to cease their repressive policies and to release Mrs. Mahmouda Mint Said so that she can regain her refugee status and be reunited with her family as soon as possible.