Ignacio Ortiz Palacio, president of the Fórum Canario Saharaui, intervened in the Fourth Committee of the United Nations (UN) during the 78th session and denounced the negative and hostile attitude of the Polisario Front and Algeria to the dispute over Western Sahara.
Ignacio Ortiz argued that the Polisario Front, with the support of the Algerian state, refuses to adopt any peaceful solution to the Saharawi dispute.
Ignacio Ortiz Palacio's intervention before the IV Committee at the UN headquarters in New York is reproduced below:
As everyone knows, the Polisario Front has for decades been backed and hosted by the Algerian state within its borders, with permanent military, political and diplomatic support. This armed group strives to prevent any peaceful solution to the dispute. A half-century-old conflict threatens peace and security in North Africa.
The terrorist threat in the Sahel is a problem that persists over time. The Polisario's continued belligerence in this equation, perpetuating this dispute thanks to the support of its Algerian host, contributes to the imbalance of the Atlantic-Mediterranean axis. We therefore warn of the harmful effects of maintaining this tense situation over the years, and that it must be resolved immediately.
We must remember that the inhabitants of the Tindouf camps are victims who suffer permanent indoctrination. Deprived of a dignified life and imprisoned in the inhospitable desert, they suffer harsh and hostile conditions on a daily basis, always under the oppressive control of the Polisario armed group and the interests of the state that supports them.
In this regard, and in terms of human rights, Amnesty International noted more than once (2014, 2020) that "the Tindouf refugee camps are opaque to scrutiny on this issue". Human Rights Watch, on the other hand, noted that "they received credible allegations of persecution of some dissidents by the authorities, and that civilian rights were infringed by being tried in military courts". All this with Algerian complicity.
Some examples are the constant repression of dissidents, the deprivation of liberty of women who participated in the "Holidays in peace" programme, or the immoral use of child soldiers, who were even exhibited with impunity and shamelessness during the visit to the camps by the special envoy De Mistura.
However, the majority of Saharawis live in dignity in the Moroccan Sahara, enjoy a prosperous life, with work and social advancement. And they vote, of course they vote, they elect their representatives at the ballot box when there is an electoral process, and with an overwhelming turnout, the highest in the country. Something the Polisario cannot boast about.
We cannot turn our backs on the current reality. With the recent accession of Italy, almost half of the EU countries support the Moroccan autonomy proposal, including the most important ones. It is not only Spain's doing, however much the focus is put on it again and again in a tendentious way from some quarters. This recognition is a massive endorsement from Europe, ratifying the backing that year after year the United Nations Security Council grants it in its resolutions, where the word referendum has not been mentioned since 2007.
Not surprisingly, in its latest resolutions it calls for "a realistic, viable and lasting political solution to this question, based on compromise, etc.". Sound familiar? These are the same terms used by the states that already recognise this proposal.
Polisario and its ilk always cling to UN resolutions and other bodies to justify their position, all of which come from the depths of the 20th century. Obsolete arguments, far removed from the prevailing reality of the 21st century, which urgently demands solutions and not resolutions, for the ultimate relief of the people who are forced to suffer this eternal journey to nowhere.
But we can all play this "game" of quoting resolutions, so let me remind you of General Assembly Resolution 2625 (1970), which states that "the parties to a dispute have the duty, in the event of failure to reach a solution by one of the above-mentioned peaceful means, to continue to seek settlement of the dispute by other peaceful means agreed upon by them". I repeat, "other peaceful means agreed by them".
If we take that resolution into account, isn't that precisely what the autonomy proposal offered by Morocco is all about? On the basis of this resolution, is the Polisario capable of taking any step beyond its "journey to nowhere" that perpetuates this tragedy? No, they are not. The Polisario and its supporters talk about international legality, but in a biased way: they mention, omit or take out of context the resolutions that interest them in order to manipulate and confuse public opinion. Thus, making an art of deception, they perpetuate themselves in power on the basis of the suffering of others, and in the process enrich themselves with it.
The answer is clear, and that means is the Moroccan autonomy proposal. Autonomy is not only a potential approach, it is an indisputable reality that many of us have been advocating since its inception back in 2007. It is time to leave behind this situation of instability after half a century of chasing utopias based on historical manipulations created by a few self-interested parties. We must save the present and build the best possible future. It is a proposal that will put an end to decades of suffering, reunite families in their land of origin and finally reconcile all Sahrawis in peace and harmony.