Brussels, 27 July, 2020 (SPS) – In a statement released today, the Frente Polisario (Polisario Front, from the Spanish abbreviation for “Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Río de Oro”) condemned the hostile and antidemocratic position of the French political party Rassemblement national (National Rally) on Western Sahara through which “some members of this movement, such as the French representative Dominique Bilde, act as a sounding board echoing propaganda from the Moroccan intelligence agency.
Press release given by Oubi Bouchraya Bachir, member of the National Secretariat of the Polisario Front in charge of Europe and the European Union.
The Arabic proverb “one is known by the company they keep” perfectly applies to the strategic alliance between the Makhzen (the royal power in Morocco) and the French National Rally (previously known as the “National Front”), especially when discussing the Sahrawi people’s struggle for their inalienable rights to self-determination and independence.
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) will shortly deliver a ruling on the two appeals presented by the the Sahrawi National Liberation Movement, the Polisario Front, against the renewal of the cooperation and fishing agreements between the European Union and Kingdom of Morocco, which were arbitrarily broadened to include Western Sahara in a flagrant violation of the CJEU’s rulings in 2016 and 2018. Therefore, it is hoped that the European Court of Justice will reiterate its previous rulings on the matter.
Therefore, as is customary, the prospect of a repeat ruling has driven Morocco to appeal to the French representatives of the far right in the European Parliament with the aim of tarnishing the image and defaming the sole, legitimate representative of the Sahrawian people. These unsubstantiated, absurd and ridiculous accusations will be believed regarding the humanitarian aid designated for the Sahrawi refugees, attributed to the Polisario Front.
Some members of this movement, such as the French MEP Dominique Bilde, act as a sounding board echoing propaganda from the Moroccan intelligence agencies. It is surprising that they prioritise this type of intervention instead of worrying about the interests of their constituents and of European citizens.
Ms. Bilde and other members of the same grouping in the European parliament all use the internet to spread their propaganda.
In his statement, the Representative of the Polisario Front for Europe and the European Union categorially denies all allegations and wishes to emphasise the following points:
1. Morocco and its allies in the French far right in the European Parliament base their information on a report that the European Anti-Fraud Office would have prepared on the back of alleged mismanagement of humanitarian aid in 2004. This report, which dates back 16 years, was not considered worthy of publication by the Office itself due to the numerous disparities that were discovered in its content and the way in which it had been prepared. Only the notorious pro-Moroccan lobbyist, the French MEP Gilles Pargneaux, repeatedly insisted on its publication. Said member of parliament, after having obtained it in an incomplete form, delivered it to the National Rally who unfairly published it in 2014.
We stress that this report was produced without its authors visiting the “location of the alleged misuse”, the Sahrawi refugee camps, and without presenting a request to visit them. The authors of the report exclusively based their evidence on allegations from people who lived in Morocco but who claimed to have lived in the Sahrawi refugee camps. These individuals operated under the guidance of the Moroccan intelligence services, which is surely an undeniable proof of objectivity!
Moreover, it is important to note that the Polisario Front has never received any assistance or financial aid for humanitarian or any other purposes from the European Union. Likewise, the leadership of the Polisario Front does not interfere in the distribution of humanitarian aid, as this is exclusively carried out by Sahrawi humanitarian organisations and their partners, such as international agencies and NGOs.
2. One of the principal reasons for this campaign enacted by the Moroccan regime in the European Parliament is the appeal launched by the WFP (World Food Programme, a branch of the United Nations) and the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), UNICEF and a further five NGOs on April 19 this year, with the aim of raising $15 million in emergency funding to face the drastic shortage of humanitarian aid in the Sahrawi refugee camps due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This appeal does not align with the objectives of the Moroccan regime, which has, from the beginning of exile, attempted to provoke famine among the Sahrawi refugees, using this pressure as a political measure to weaken the Sahrawi resistance and to break the determination of our people to achieve their right to self-determination, a right that has been denied by Morocco despite having recognised it in the ‘90s.
Furthermore, the WFP and the UNHCR have confirmed the legitimacy and the transparency of the management of the humanitarian aid in the Sahrawi refugee camps on numerous occasions during their various Joint Assessment Admissions in 2007, 2011, 2014 and 2016, as well at the existence of effective monitoring systems. Such is the case that the UNHCR, together with various humanitarian organisations on Sahrawi soil, estimated that the number of Sahrawi refugees stood at 173,600 in a report from March 2018.
3. For its part, the European Commission has repudiated these claims, in particular through the Commissioner for the Budget and Human Resources, Kristalina Georgieva. During a debate in the European Parliament Committee on Budgetary Control on March 24, 2015, she indicated that “The accusations of misappropriation of the EU humanitarian aid to refugee camps in Tindouf are unfair”. In his declarations, Claus Sorensen, ex-director general of humanitarian aid and public protection (DG ECHO), refuted all accusations in a speech given to the European Parliament Committee on Budgetary Control on July 14, 2015. He presented the monitoring and control measures adopted by the European Parliament Committee for Humanitarian Aid, asserting that “the operation has been active since 2003 with the preparation of 36 audit reports, eight of which were carried out on the soil of the Sahrawi encampments”. More recently, on July 2, 2020, the European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lencarčič, made a contribution to the European Parliament Committee on Development to unequivocally disprove the Moroccan allegations and the claims made by pressure groups. He confirmed the transparency and efficiency of the measures for monitoring the European humanitarian aid granted to the Sahrawi refugees.
4. The current misinformation campaign is reminiscent of a similar one carried out in 2002 by Aymeric Chauprade, another representative from the French National Rally. In the context of the 9/11 terrorist attacks; he attempted to label the Polisario Front as terrorists, going so far as to churlishly insinuate that Osama Bin Laden was in hiding in the Sahrawi refugee camps. This mimics Ms. Bilde and the falsehood she disseminated in linking the supposed misdirection of humanitarian aid to the Polisario Front’s desire to buy armoured tanks and missiles.
5. The international legitimacy of the Sahrawi people’s resistance, the justness of their cause, their fight for liberation and for their right to self-determination are at the core of the ties that bind the Polisario Front and Algeria. The latter has adopted a constant position in favour of all battles of national liberation around the world and did not doubt in offering refuge to Sahrawi civilians, offering them a safe space when they arrived on Algerian soil, fleeing from the bombing campaigns using internationally banned weapons, napalm and white phosphorous, carried out by Moroccan planes.
The Polisario Front and the Sahrawi people are eternally grateful to Algeria and its people for their principled position, for their immense generosity in supporting Sahrawi refugees and for their constant respect for the rulings and choices of the Sahrawi authorities in the management of their refugee camps.
6. The Polisario Front, which has carried out its own fight for national liberation since 1970 with the sole objective of guaranteeing for the Sahrawi people their inalienable right, owed to them and recognised by international law and in the UN Charter, expresses its thanks to the European Commission, and likewise to the European partners for their important humanitarian aid that contributes to relieving the suffering of a people who have been deprived of their natural resources, displaced and forced into exile, while those who have resisted in the occupied areas have been submitted to the yoke of a ruthless military occupation and horrific repression by a colonial state that withholds the most basic human rights.
The Polisario Front reiterates its complete commitment and strong determination to continue to cooperate with all international partners, including European institutions and organisations, with the aim of consolidating and guaranteeing the transparent, legitimate and precise management of the humanitarian aid destined for the Sahrawi refugees.
The Polisario Front would like to take advantage of this opportunity to remind everyone, strongly and insistently, that the best aid the European Union can provide is to abstain from its policy of looting Saharawi natural resources; it should also make a meaningful contribution to the organization of a referendum on self-determination in Western Sahara. As a consequence of this, it would liberate a geographic area that is right beside one of its principal causes of instability that could, once more, propel it into the inferno of military escalation and conflict due to the intransigence of Morocco, supported by influential European states.