Ms. Haidar is a courageous campaigner for self-determination of Western Sahara from its occupation by Morocco, as well as against forced "disappearances" and abuses of prisoners of conscience.
One might expect Aminatou Haidar to stop fighting. She has been arrested, beaten, and tortured, all for peacefully speaking truth to power. In 1987, she and 70 demonstrators whom she led in a peaceful protest against Morocco’s illegal occupation of Western Sahara were disappeared. For four years, she was held in a secret prison without charge or trial, where she had chemical-soaked cloths forced into her mouth and received electrical shocks throughout her entire body.
But the 2008 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award laureate is undeterred in her fight for justice.
Aminatou Haidar is a Sahrawi human rights activist and an advocate of the independence of Western Sahara. She is often called the "Sahrawi Gandhi" or "Sahrawi Pasionaria" for her nonviolent protests. She is the President of the Collective of Sahrawi Human Rights Defenders (CODESA). She was imprisoned from 1987 to 1991 and from 2005 to 2006 on charges related to her independence advocacy. In 2009, she attracted international attention when she staged a hunger strike in Lanzarote Airport after being denied re-entry into Moroccan Western Sahara. Haidar has won several international human rights awards for her work, including the 2008 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award and the 2009 Civil Courage Prize.