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Western Sahara: Systematic repression of human rights defenders
Following its recent visit to Western Sahara from 15 to 22 September 2008, Front Line expresses its serious concern in relation to repressive practices against human rights defenders in Western Sahara. These include intrusive surveillance of defenders, the imposition of obstacles to registration of non-governmental organisations, physical attacks and arbitrary detentions, such as the wave of arrests carried out on 21 September following a peaceful demonstration in the town of Smara.
posted 10/10/08 According to information received, on 21 September 2008, as Front Line was visiting the region, a group of Western Saharan activists, which included human rights defenders, organised a peaceful demonstration in the town of Smara, following which the Moroccan security services launched a campaign of arbitrary detentions of several defenders and attacked several homes. To date, one human rights defender, Alshayki Brahim, remains in detention at the El-Ayoune prison.
Front Line believes that the systematic repression of Western Saharan human rights defenders is directly related to their legitimate and non-violent work in defence of human rights, in particular the exercise of the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. Front Line expresses its concern for the physical and psychological integrity of all the human rights defenders involved, as well as that of their families.