Western Sahara’s stalled revolution?
Western Sahara’s stalled revolution?In Western Sahara, an ongoing independence movement struggles to find support.
Saharawis in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara have long called for greater economic and political rights. During the Arab Spring, many Saharawis hoped the media would pick up on their protests, but the story remains largely untold.
After years of war, the disputed territory of Western Sahara is now predominantly controlled by Morocco, and the Polisario Front, a Western Saharan independence group. Algeria has long backed the Polisario Front, causing deep political tension with Morocco.
In 1991 the UN successfully brokered a regional peace agreement and ceasefire, but the territory largely remains under control of the Moroccan monarchy. The UN says it is committed to ensuring improved conditions for the 260,000 residents of Western Sahara, but the latest round of informal talks earlier this year ended in deadlock.
Currently, many Saharawis are protesting against what they say is unjust Moroccan control of the territory. Activists point to widespread discrimination, lack of jobs, a failing education system, suppression of cultural and linguistic heritage, and police brutality as evidence of Morocco’s chronic mismanagement of the region. Additionally, activists allege that there are as many as 100 political prisoners currently being held as a result of the conflict.
The struggle for independence is being called by some as the 'Forgotten Facebook Revolution.' because of Sahrawis’ reliance on the social networking site to get information in and out. Activists allege that the Moroccan government’s tight controls on media have effectively created a police state.
On today’s episode of The Stream, Kamal Fadel joins via Skype to discuss the current status of Western Sahara. Fadel is the Polisario Front representative to Australia and a pro-independence activist.
These are some of the social media elements featured in this episode of The Stream.