Sahara activist ends hunger strike in Spain

4th December 2009, Comments 0 comments

Western Sahara activist Aminatou Haidar ended her hunger strike at the airport in Spain's Canary Island of Lanzarote and may return to home by plane on Friday, an airport police spokesman told AFP.

Madrid - Western Sahara activist Aminatou Haidar ended her hunger strike at the airport in Spain's Canary Island of Lanzarote and may return to home by plane on Friday, an airport police spokesman told AFP.

"She has called off her hunger strike," he said, adding he "believed" she would later on Friday board a plane bound for Laayoune in Western Sahara.

The 42-year-old had refused to eat since 16 November, three days after Moroccan authorities denied her entry into her native Western Sahara, a disputed territory annexed by Morocco in 1975, and sent her back to Lanzarote.

The activist, who campaigns for the independence of the Western Sahara from Morocco, previously told AFP that Moroccan authorities denied her entry because of her refusal to accept the territory is part of Morocco.

She has remained camped out at the airport to draw attention to her cause, which has been backed by several celebrities, including Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem and Portugal's Nobel-winning author Jose Saramago who visited her earlier this week.

Earlier on Friday Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa said Madrid was taking "all diplomatic steps with Morocco in order for her to recover her passport," but that "does not stop us asking her to end her hunger strike which is causing her harm."

Spain had offered to give Haider refugee status or Spanish citizenship so that she could be allowed to return home but she rejected both options on the grounds that she did not want to become "a foreigner in her own home."

Moroccan Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi Fihri said Wednesday that Haidar had "disowned her identity and her nationality" and "must accept, on her own, the legal and moral consequences which result from this behaviour".

Morocco annexed phosphate-rich Western Sahara after Spain left in 1975 and has pledged to grant it widespread autonomy, but rules out independence as demanded by the Polisario Front movement.

While fighting in the desert territory halted in 1991, UN-sponsored talks on Western Sahara's future have made no headway.

Haidar won the Robert Kennedy human rights prize in 2008 as well as several other awards for her activism on behalf of Western Sahara.

AFP/Expatica

0 Comments To This Article