Western Sahara activist to appear in Spanish court

19th November 2009, Comments 0 comments

Winner of several human rights awards Aminatou Haidar was ordered to appear in court following a complaint from airport management firm AENA for public disorder.

Arrecife – A prominent Western Sahara activist on a hunger strike at an airport in Spain's Canary Islands has been cited by a Spanish court for public disorder, a member of her entourage said Tuesday.

Aminatou Haidar, a winner of several human rights awards, stopped taking food at midnight on Sunday to protest Morocco's refusal to allow her to return to the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

She was arrested by Moroccan authorities on Friday on her arrival in the Western Sahara capital of Laayoune, where she lives, on a flight from Spain's Canary Islands, and then sent back to the archipelago.

Haidar, who defends the self-determination of Western Sahara, has filed a complaint against Moroccan authorities for forced expulsion as well as against Spain, which she said is holding her in the country against her will.

She was cited to appear before a judge on Wednesday at a court in Arrecife, the capital of the Canary Island of Lanzorote, following a complaint from airport management firm AENA for public disorder, a spokesman for the Western Sahara in the Canaries, Hamudi Isemo Mussa, told AFP.

Haidar hopes to board the next available flight to Laayoune which is scheduled for Saturday even though she does not have a passport since it was confiscated by Moroccan authorities, he added.

The Spanish foreign ministry said she re-entered Spain on Saturday using her Spanish residency permit.

She has stayed at the airport in the company of other Western Saharan militants, except at night when the building closes to the public and she camps out at the entrance.

In September Haidar was awarded the Civil Courage Prize by the Train Foundation in New York for "her campaign on behalf of the self-determination of Western Sahara and against (Moroccan) government abuses and disappearances of prisoners of conscience."

The Polisario Front has been fighting for the independence of Western Sahara since it was annexed by Morocco after Spain left in 1975.

On 6 November, King Mohammed VI warned of a crackdown against "opponents of the territorial integrity of Morocco," referring to Sahrawis who support the Polisario Front.

With Algerian backing, the Polisario Front is holding out for independence.

AFP / Expatica

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