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Western Sahara

A protest camp in the desert in Western Sahara was closed down brutally by Moroccan security forces on 11 November. At least eight people were killed. Morocco has illegally occupied Western Sahara since 1975.

The Gadaym Izik tent city, set up in October, was home to 12,000 Sahrawis protesting against unemployment and poor living conditions in nearby Western Saharan capital Laayoune.

Moroccan troops used live ammunition, tear gas and water cannon to shut down the camp, according to the Sahrawi independence movement Polisario. (Polisario, a guerrilla movement, has observed a ceasefire for over 10 years.)

The Moroccan government expelled foreign activists and barred foreign journalists from the region. One of the few independent observers in the territory, Peter Bouckaert, of Human Rights Watch, interviewed people who had been arrested and severely beaten. Bouckaert reported in mid-November that 100 Sahrawi activists had been arrested and charged and at least six major activists had been transferred to military courts in Rabat, Morocco.

On 13 November, thousands demonstrated in Madrid, Spain, against the Moroccan repression. www.wsahara.org

Topics: Western Sahara