NEWS RELEASES- On the 16th June 2017, the CIPADH took the opportunity to attend one of the many side events of the 35th session of the Human Rights Council offered by the civil society, permanent missions, the OHCHR and other international intergovernmental organizations. This informal meeting was prepared by an NGO, “Solidarité Internationale pour l’Afrique” (International Solidarity for Africa). This NGO from Mali is working on the development of rural population. For this side event the NGO choose as central point “Nations under Occupations”.
A numerous speaker were present to expose the situation in their occupied territories. Firstly, the Chair, Pr. Paul Newman, remembered the public how this topic is still important today. The issue of nations under occupation is not new. The number of nations under occupation culminated with the European colonizers : they conquered lands and forbid nations to exist. The hope of a world without nations under occupation came back after the Second World War and the decolonization. But nowadays, there is still nations under occupation and former colonizers are not the problem : new colonizers emerged. As some example we can name Kashmir, Tibet, Kurdistan or Western Sahara, but more nation are suffering under occupation. To start the conference, the chair gave the floor to Mr. Mahfouz Bachir from Western Sahara, a chance for him to expose his view about the problem of the occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco. The key point in the problem of the Western Sahara is the impossibility for the inhabitants of the region to choose : if they want to be part of a State or be their own State. The West Africa and Western Shara were a Spanish colony. During the decolonization, a tripartite agreement was signed between Mauritania, Morocco and Spain in order to organize the affiliation of Western Sahara between Mauritania and Morocco. For the speaker they divide Western Sahara like “a cake”. The people of Western Sahara already fought the colonization of Spain and they didn’t stop asking for their independence. Independence movement in Western Sahara are since the occupation of the territory by Spain, led by the Polisario Front. This annexation was made against human rights. Mauritania ended its occupation of Western Sahara but Morocco did not and continue its occupation and violating human rights in the region wishing to destroy the people of Western Sahara. The UN tried to put an end to the conflict with a cease fire and the will to organize a referendum in 1991. But today there is still no implementation of the UN resolution and people of the Western Sahara are still waiting for the realization of this referendum. The speaker insisted that a referendum is the only way a democratic future for the Western Sahara. Unfortunately the Moroccan regime is putting a lot of obstacles to avoid letting the people of Western Sahara choose of their destiny. People have today lost the faith the solution from the UN will be implemented. The people of Western Sahara tired of this situation are pushing the Polisario front to start again its armed fight against the Moroccan occupation. The brutal Human Right abuses and “harshness of the government” have led the inhabitants of Western Sahara in believing that force is a better way. They are still peaceful protest but these demonstration are always leading to the use of the force by the Moroccan authority. The speaker ended his presentation with a call to the people in the room, asking them to bring attention on the question of Western Sahara and the violation committed in this land.
The Chair then gave the floor to Mr. S. Alnoud speaking on the issue of the South Yemen and the northern occupation of the Yemen since 1994, a singular issue. Before the nineties, North Yemen and South Yemen were two separated and independent state. The South Yemen was a smaller country than North Yemen but well developed. There was the rule of law, free health care, education and a “great deal of achievement for a southern country”. The unity of the two Yemen undermined the quality of life of South Yemen. The unity wasn’t a functioning one and South Yemen wished the end of the unity. In 1994, the South Yemen decided to put an end to the unity as it was their right but the North Yemen started occupying the the South Yemen. South Yemen tried to deal with the problem but had no chance to resist has the military powers of the North and the mobilization of a larger population. With this unification, South Yemen lost its stability : there was a breakdown of civil value, « tribalism », an increase poverty, an increase mortality rate and a strong social division. The implementation of Human rights diminished. Today South Yemen seeks the support and recognition of the international community sot they can find a solution to the occupation on their lands.
On a other situation, the floor was given to Father Raj Irudaya from Sri Lanka on the situation of the Tamil. Tamil have been leaving in Sri Lanka for centuries and are most present in the northern and eastern part of the country. Nowadays they are largely deprived of their own land and around 7000 m2 of their land is under military occupation. This minority has been systematically pressurizes and the majority of Sri Lanka is trying to destroyed the Tamil. This oppression began after the independence of Sri Lanka in 1948 : minorities groups have been deprived of their opportunity. According to the speaker they have no voices, considered as terrorists and marginalized. « Landless people are faceless people » he said which summarized the situation. Father Raj Irudaya request the international community to react and tell the story of the Tamil to the world. These people’s story needs to be known and they need to be help to reclaim there land and get a chance to be again « human beings ».
The last Nations under occupation talked during this side event was Kurdistan. The Minister of labor and Social Affairs of the Iraqi Kurdistan spoke about the issue of Kurds in Iraq. They are living where they are today for a long time and in coexistence with others. They before had there own state but today and since the Sykes-Picot treaty, Kurds are divided in four different countries where their rights are violated. The minister gave a interesting speech highlighting the need of solidarity between these nations under occupation and the necessity to continue the resistance of the nations under occupations until one day their rights are respected. In the Kurdistan of Iraq the government is not committed to the region as to the other. The minister assured the people of nations under occupation that they will not forget each other when one will finally reach the Independence.
A last speaker took the floor for a short word on the situation of the Baluchistan. Baluchistan is nowadays a region of the Pakistan state. But its status as a region of Pakistan is criticize. Pakistan was created artificially with the decolonization in 1947 and Baluchistan should not be part of the State of Pakistan. Today in Baluchistan, people are facing oppression on a daily basis and violation of human rights. Furthermore they can’t speak up for their rights because they are systematically “shut down” by the authorities.
To shortly summarize, this conference was an non-exhaustive overview of nations under occupation and a brief panorama of the life these people living in nations under occupations. Their main demand is the implementation of the right to self determination for all people as today colonization is not over and people all over the world are still fighting for the independence of their nations.
EF - Research Assistant at CIPADH