Former diplomats and human rights activists in the United States has called on the head of US diplomacy, Antony Blinken, to open an investigation into human rights violations perpetrated by Morocco in occupied Western Sahara.
In a letter addressed to the US Secretary of State on Thursday, the signatories called on the State Department to denounce the Moroccan aggression against the Sahrawi population and to immediately open an investigation into the ongoing human rights violations committed by Morocco.
Signatories to the letter included Suzanne Scholte, Seoul Peace Prize laureate and President of the Defense Forum Foundation, Gare Smith, President of Global Business and Human Rights Practice-Foley Hoag, Katlyn Thomas, former head of legal affairs at Minurso, Katrina Lantos Swett, daughter of the late Congressman Tom Lantos, and President of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice.
They also included Bill Fletcher, co-chair of the campaign to end the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara, Jason Poblete, president of the Global Liberty Alliance, and Chadwick Gore, former acting deputy assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
In their letter, the signatories point out that the decision taken by former US President Donald Trump to recognise Morocco’s alleged sovereignty over Western Sahara violates international law, which has been the cornerstone of US policy since the creation of the United States, and revokes the respect for international law and human rights that President Biden has pledged to uphold.
The signatories called on President Biden to reverse this decision, which has received bipartisan condemnation” in the US. They warned that this decision has put the Sahrawi population in danger and requires “urgent action”.
The letter to the State Department recalled the statement by Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, who in July called on Morocco to stop the “systematic targeting of Sahrawi human rights defenders, who are often imprisoned and subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment for carrying out legitimate activities.
Activist Sultana Khaya, president of the Association for the Defence of Human Rights and the Protection of Natural Resources, which campaigns for self-determination in Western Sahara, and members of the Sahrawi Body against the Moroccan Occupation have recently been targeted by the Moroccan security forces.
The signatories deplored the number of unprecedented attacks perpetrated in recent weeks against these militants, noting that most Sahrawi activists in the occupied territories are now under house arrest and a police blockade.
The letter also highlighted the millions of dollars Morocco spends every year on lobbying in the US to support its hold on the territory of occupied Western Sahara.