A learning experience for Talk Together

The Talk Together team and its participants have had an interesting learning experience in relation to the information we have been receiving about the students in Layounne.  We are now mindful that all sides are eager to find information to support their positions.

Allied to that, anyone reading the blog may associate a picture of an injury with the story of the Moroccan authorities and conclude there was a link. In fact when the photos were first shown to the participants who are in Oxford, many questioned their provenance, and asked for proof of the cause of the injury and the identity of the individuals involved.

From the outset of the Talk Together course, participants have been encouraged to take no information for granted, and to question everything. On this basis Talk Together made a blog posting which did not present the details of the injury as ‘the facts’ but rather couched the information with the term ‘reportedly’.

What happened?

We initially received reports that the injury illustrated with the photo on this post was of an injury reportedly sustained by one of the female members of the group during their stay in Mohamadia while they were waiting for their visas.

Talk Together did not attribute the injury to any particular perpetrator, but the posting has provoked assumption that the injury was inflicted by the Moroccan authorities. We have subsequently received other reports that the injury was the result of an accident in the kitchen during the week before the trip. The injury was not sustained, we are told, during police interrogation. During their removal from the airport, we are told, they took her by the arm which may have aggravated the injury.  However, we are not in possession of all the facts, so we cannot assume anything.

Talk Together would like to make clear that it is reporting all information it has on the situation that prevented groups travelling from Layounne and Morocco as it comes in, subject to protecting the identity of its sources.

What next?

The participants have asked me to post that the course is taking care to examine the position of all parties involved in the situation affecting Western Sahara. They are keen to hear more opinions from the Moroccan side and are looking forward to speaking to two Moroccan visitors who are due to take part in the programme this week.   The illustration of the different possible interpretations of the arm injury only reinforces how important it is to hear all perspectives from the people themselves.  We have been very disappointed at the fact that two of the five original groups of participants were prevented from attending the Talk Together programme.  We look forward to having the opportunity of hearing from all sides in as much detail as possible before the end of the programme.

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