Thu 22/04/2021

HRW denounces heavy-handed police surveillance imposed on Sahrawi activist Sultana Khaya

2 months ago at 06/Mar/2021 60

NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Friday denounced the heavy and almost constant surveillance imposed by Moroccan security forces on Sahrawi activist Sultana Khaya for more than three months.

“Without providing any justification, these forces prevented several people, including relatives of the activist, from visiting her,” the Washington-based NGO indicated in a statement.

“The surveillance of this activist, Sultana Khaya, and violations of her right to freely assemble with others at her home in Boujdour, Western Sahara, are emblematic of the Moroccan government’s intolerance of calls for self-determination that thwart the kingdom’s claim to the territory,” HRW said.

It recalled that “Khaya is known locally for her vehement opposition to Morocco’s control over Western Sahara.

“Moroccan authorities may have little taste for Sultana Khaya’s pro-independence views and her spirited way of displaying them,” said Eric Goldstein, acting Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Nonetheless, peaceful expression is her right, and there is no justification for barring entry to her home without legal grounds,” Goldstein said, as quoted in the statement.

He added: “The strong police surveillance of the house of Sultana Khaya illustrates it well: Morocco is determined to put under pressure, including psychologically, any opponent to the sovereignty it claims over Western Sahara.

The NGO indicated that the Sahrawi activist returned to the family home in Boujdour on November 19, 2020, after a trip to Spain. While she was away that evening, members of the Moroccan security forces raided her home. During the raid, they hit her 84-year-old mother on the head. Since that day, the security forces have not left the vicinity of her home.

On February 13, while filming the police from an open window, Khaya was hit in the face with a stone that she said a member of the security forces had thrown from the street.

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