Footage from Western Sahara

Talk Together today saw video footage from the Western Sahara group who were prevented from travelling to Oxford. What follows are brief notes on the content taken from an ‘as it happened’ translation.

At airport: Group asked for legal proof/reason of refusal to travel – told, first, that plane had already left; then told that an order had come from above.

Beaten and kicked at airport. ********* kicked in stomach. Girl hit on head when she had fainted.

“You deserve to die” – to girl who had fainted

“We’ll kill you our way” – repeated several times

Journey: kept waiting 30 mins at every checkpoint. Phones taken, batteries removed then given back. Took away phones “as you are in direct contact with the Polisario, Oxford University, Algeria, Libya…” (!) Refused access to a mosque

At Layounne: beaten again, asked to go to hospital – refused, kicked in stomach (after 27 hours on hunger strike)

“We won’t let you go in case you expose the violations of the Saharawis and so you can’t talk about WS in other countries”

More death threats if they mentioned a specific border guard – didn’t catch his name)

Authorities afraid due to pressure from international organisations

At house: Man fell on floor and was stamped on. Women beaten.  Broke windows. Threw glasses of milk family had prepared.

Next morning:  Home still surrounded – no one allowed to leave or enter . At time of recording they were still being watched and were unsure if video would make it through to outside world or not.

“Worse would have happened if it wasn’t for international attention. We know this because it happened to our relatives.  Situation has improved since international attention began”.

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