Urgent appeal continues for immediate access by outside medical care to ensure his safety, survival; Now 30 days after the Polisario Front's promised release
WASHINGTON, Nov. 5, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- International human rights advocates Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch repeated their call for the Algeria-based Polisario Front to make good on its Oct. 6 promise to free outspoken Sahrawi leader, Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud, following reliable reports received by his family that he has been shot and possibly very seriously injured by his Algerian and Polisario captors.
The former Polisario chief police inspector has been confined in a remote desert location since his Sept. 21 arrest for alleged "treason" and "espionage" when he tried to rejoin his family in Algeria's Tindouf refugee camps and speak out for Morocco's autonomy compromise to end the 35-year-old Western Sahara conflict.
"We share your concern about the case of Mustafa Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud," Amnesty International said in a letter to former US Ambassador to Morocco Edward Gabriel. Amnesty said it has "publicly criticized his detention and called on the Polisario Front to release him," adding that he should not be "held for publicly expressing support for the autonomy of Western Sahara."
Human Rights Watch said the Sahrawi leader is being confined at an isolated desert outpost unable to contact his family, despite the Polisario's promised release 30 days ago. "There are no outside observers on the ground to verify he is being humanely treated," said Human Rights Watch in a statement this week. "The Polisario Front says it's cooperating fully with UNHCR" to resolve the situation. "But it is they who first detained him... apparently because of his political opinions." As "the party responsible for his well-being," they "should start by enabling him to communicate freely with his family."
"It has been a full month since the Polisario promised to free Mustapha Salma, but they still have not," said Robert Holley, Executive Director, Moroccan American Center for Policy. "Now, from what Human Rights Watch indicates, the Polisario is insisting he is no longer 'technically' their prisoner even as they detain him in some remote desert outpost, with no family contact. With their actions, Algeria and the Polisario have made it clear they can't be trusted to tell the truth. Nor can they be trusted with the safety of Mustapha Salma, whose life is at risk. The international community must hold the Polisario and Algeria accountable. They should insist Mustapha Salma be freed, now, and receive immediate outside medical care."
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Leadership Council for Human Rights, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and US Senate and House members all criticized the Polisario after the Sept. 21 arrest. The Action Committee for the Release of Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud reported the shooting on Oct. 30.
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SOURCE Moroccan American Center for Policy