Delegation Exposes Ongoing Humanitarian Crisis in Western Sahara

July 2, 2006

WASHINGTON, June 26 /Christian Newswire/ — “We have a monster, an enemy in front of us.” – Ali El Jaouhar, ex-POW held captive by the POLISARIO Front for 23 years after a cease-fire was called.

The last of three luncheons with a delegation from Morocco occurred on Friday at The Columbus Hotel in Columbus, OH. An unusual exchange of communication between American Evangelicals and Moroccan Muslims has grown over the past two years, resulting in an unprecedented connection and understanding between the leaders of the two groups. This recent visit of a Moroccan delegation to the U.S. is a result of the ensuing friendship.

Hosted by the Evangelical organizations National Clergy Council and Christian Friendship Mission, the delegation last week traveled to Lancaster, PA, Pontiac, MI, and Columbus, OH, during the past week. The complementary luncheon events featured the Reverend Rob Schenck (pronounced SHANK), president of the National Clergy Council and an Evangelical minister, the Honorable Edward Gabriel, former US ambassador to Morocco and several victims of human rights abuses who were held in POLISARIO camps.

Attendees at the luncheons included a broad spectrum of leaders from the Evangelical community as well as representatives from Roman Catholic and mainline denominations.

The delegation continues to expose the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Western Sahara. Sadaani Ma Oulainie, a former child prisoner held hostage in Cuba for over a decade, and Ali El Jaouhar, an ex- POW detained for 23 years after the United Nations decreed a ceasefire between the warring countries of Morocco and Algeria, described their tortuous personal histories consisting of public beatings, humiliation, re-education, and the extended separation of families. Presently, thirty-year-old camps run by the Cuban-backed POLISARIO Front exist in southern Algeria where thousands of indigenous Sahrawi people of Western Sahara are sequestered and treated inhumanely, “worth less than donkeys”, says El Jaouhar.

The focus of these luncheons rests on the Christian community, requesting its help through prayer and by helping to further educate the public about the crisis. Church leaders, members and institutions are being asked to appeal to local members of Congress and specifically the US Ambassador for Religious Liberty, John Hanford, to investigate the charges against the POLISARIO Front and to broker a settlement that will allow detainees to leave the camps. Saadani plead with those in attendance, “I am asking that you scream for us.”

Columbus, Ohio, National Clergy Council representative the Reverend Dr. Samuel Farina, pastor of the large Christian Assembly on Karl Road and founder of numerous community outreach initiatives, closed with prayer and encouragement on Friday afternoon, “It is the cry of every human being to be free. As the people of God we can do something.”

Prior to this visit, a Moroccan delegation traveled to Trenton, NJ, and to Sarasota and Jacksonville, FL in March 2006. Additional visits are scheduled for August and December 2006 with plans to tour Texas and California respectively.

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2 Responses to “Delegation Exposes Ongoing Humanitarian Crisis in Western Sahara”

  1. Chasli Says:

    There is so much wrong with this Christian Newswire that I feel impelled to look at it paragraph by paragraph:

    paragraph 1: The Morocco-Western Sahara cease-fire was in 1991, which by my count was 15 years ago. How does this Ali El Jaouhar come up with 23 years? The Polisario Front did indeed hold some Moroccan prisoners for a long time, but it was only because Morocco 1) refused to honor the terms of the Cease-fire Agreement which required the holding of a referendum, 2) refused to negotiate a prisoner exchange with the Polisario for the period from 1975 to 1991, and 3) continues to hold Polisario prisoners. In fact, recent evidence has shown that a major reason Morocco was unable to exchange prisoners with the Polisario was because they killed many of those that they held.

    paragraph 2: “An unusual exchange of communication between American Evangelicals and Moroccan Muslims has grown over the past two years.” American evangelicals have for many years been at the forefront of the the Western Saharan fight for a referendum, self-determination, and independence. In particular, numerous evangelical groups organized by the US-Western Sahara Foundations Christian liaison office have for years been working with the Polisario to bring supplies to the refugee camps, lobby against the Moroccan illegal occupation, and host Sahrawi children in the US. Reverend Schenck and the National Clergy Council are absolutely not representative of the American evalgelical community, which is overwhelmingly pro-Polisario and anti-Moroccan — based on years of first-hand experience in the refugee camps.

    Paragraph 3: The group that travels with Reverend Schenck to these dog-and-pony shows are on the leash of the Moroccan-American Center for Policy, a Washington-based registered agent of the Moroccan government. They are nothing more than Moroccan propagandists.

    paragraph 4: “broad spectrum of leaders from the Evangelical community.” See the notes on paragraph 2. The evangelicals at these meetings sponsored by the National Clergy Council are hardly a broad spectrum. I have attended one of these sessions and most of the attendees are there to enjoy a nice free gourmet meal in a fancy air-conditioned hotel.

    paragraph 5: On Ali El Jaouhar, look again at my notes on paragraph 1. On “Sadaani Ma Oulainie, a former child prisoner held hostage in Cuba for over a decade,” she is clearly a fraud. The UN High Commissioner on Refugees who oversees the refugee camps as well as the educational trips by the Tindouf refugees to Cuba, has looked extensively into these allegations and has found them to be totally bogus. To the contrary, UNHCR has found that the Sahrawi children overwhelmingly love the opportunity to go to Cuba to study — given the boredom and limited educational possibiliies in the camps. On all the abuse that these people allege is taking place in the refugee camps at the hands of the Poliario, again UNHCR plus numerous non-governmental organizations have been monitoring the situation in the camps for years and have seen little or no abuse. In addition, if there were any truth to any of this, why in the world does Morocco absolutely refuse to allow the refugees to hold a referendum under strict UN supervision so they can have a voice. It is because Morocco knows that the refugees would overwhelmingly vote with the Polilsario.

    paragraph 6: “helping to further educate the public about the crisis.” Again, these shows are pure Moroccan propaganda and all the allegations are and have been easily refuted but numerous researchers, academics, and international and non-governmental organizations. It was after all the United Nations International Court of Justice that ruled in 1975 that the Western Sahara, as an ex-colony had the right to self-determination and that the Moroccan occupation was illegal under international law. Anyone who really wants to be educated could start by reviewing the wealth of United Nations material on the issue.

    “members and institutions are being asked to appeal to local members of Congress … to investigate the charges against the POLISARIO Front.” I find it humorous that one of these evangelical meetings took place in Lancaster, PA, whose congressman, Rep. Joseph Pitts has been on top of the Western Sahara situation for many many years and has visited the camps. From his long research, investigation, and first-hand experience, he has become a champion of Western Saharans’ rights and the Polisario, and even maintains a Western Sahara page on his congressional website that easily refutes everything Schenck and his group say.

    paragraph 7: ““It is the cry of every human being to be free. As the people of God we can do something.” If these people really want to do something they could support the UN-mandated referendum by the Western Saharans, so their will could truly be expressed. The freedom that the Wetsern Saharans yearn for is the freedom fom Morocco, not from the Polisario. Just hold a referendum and we will all see who is telling the truth.

    paragraph 8: It is hard to figure out where the National Clergy Council is getting the money to throw these gourmet propaganda shows. I suspect that, given the visibility of Moroccan government agents at these shows, the money is being funneled to them by Rabat.

    I am writing this because many newspapers and blogs around the country have picked up these Christian Newswires by the National Clergy Council and pass them on as gospel. The overwhelming evidence points to the propagandistic nature of these meetings. The National Clergy Council has been sold a bill of goods; the speakers and their handlers are Moroccan agents and frauds; the slide show and speaches propagate misinformation and lies. The ongoing humanatarian crisis in the Wetsern Sahara is the result solely of Moroccan abuses of international law and Moroccan bestiality (check with Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International if you don’t believe me).

    Chasli

  2. Will Says:

    Right on, Chasli. I was about to post the UNHCR findings, as well.


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