Outspoken Sahrawi Leader Reported Shot by Polisario in Algeria 25 Days After Promised Release

Oct 31, 2010, 15:58 ET from Moroccan American Center for Policy

Urgent appeal goes out to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and UNHCR to demand immediate access by outside medical specialists to ensure his safety, survival

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Almost a month after the Polisario Front promised his release, the family of Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud late yesterday received information that he has been shot and possibly very seriously injured by his Algerian security and Polisario militia captors who have kept him imprisoned in close confinement since September 21.

The Polisario said October 6 it would free the outspoken Sahrawi leader to international human rights groups after an outcry from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Leadership Council for Human Rights, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, US Senate and House members, and others criticizing his arrest.  There has been no public confirmation of the former Polisario police chief's whereabouts since he was charged with "treason" and "espionage" as he tried to rejoin his family in the Polisario-run Tindouf refugee camps in Algeria and speak out for Morocco's autonomy compromise to end the 35-year-old Western Sahara conflict.  

News of the shooting was reported by the Action Committee for the Release of Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud. Earlier, Moulay Ismaili Ould Sidi Mouloud, the Sahrawi leader's father, urged the international community to intervene to end the suffering inflicted by the Polisario and Algeria to make his son give up his support of Moroccan autonomy to bring peace to the region and "freedom and dignity" to Sahrawis.

"Twenty-five days ago the Polisario promised the world they would free Mustapha Salma, but they did not," said Robert Holley, Executive Director, Moroccan American Center for Policy. "Now, our worst fears have been realized.  It is clear Algeria and the Polisario can't be taken at their word, nor can they be trusted with Mustapha Salma's safety.  This man's life is at risk.  He needs immediate attention by outside medical specialists to ensure his safety and determine the extent of his wounds.  International human rights advocates, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, need to hold the Polisario and Algeria accountable for this outrageous conduct. They need to insist Mustapha Salma be freed, now, and get immediate outside medical care to protect and save his life."

The Sahrawi leader was kidnapped as a boy from Smara, southern Morocco by Polisario raiders who killed four family members. He was reunited with his father for the first time in 31 years on a UN-sponsored family visit to southern Morocco this summer.  Seeing the progress in Morocco's Sahara provinces, he vowed to return to the camps and voice his support to refugees for Morocco's autonomy plan to end the Sahara dispute.

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SOURCE Moroccan American Center for Policy