February 19, 2013
His Excellency Kim Sook, President
United Nations Security Council
335 East 45th Street
New York New York 10017
Dear President Kim:
I am writing with an urgent request regarding the recent sentencing by a military court in the Kingdom of Morocco of twenty-four Sahrawi civilians. These Sahrawis have been held and repeatedly tortured for over two years because they had joined in a peaceful protest against their treatment as second class citizens in their homeland, Moroccan Occupied Western Sahara. Now, they are facing sentences ranging from several years to life imprisonment in a dubious and politically motivated trial that has already raised concerns from the international community including the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, whose office cited the UN Human Rights Committee’s statement that the use “of military or special courts to try civilians raises serious problems as far as the equitable, impartial and independent administration of justice is concerned.”
It is an appalling situation that the United Nations must address because the UN bears responsibility for this latest tragic situation. The failure of the UN’s MINURSO to resolve this issue through the long promised referendum AND the failure of the UN not to include human rights monitoring as part of MINUSO, the only peacekeeping mission without a human rights component, has prolonged the suffering and made it possible for the Moroccan authorities to continue their systematic repression and violence against Sahrawi men, women and children.
I urge the UN Security Council to call upon the King of Morocco to overturn these draconian sentences and release the Sahrawis, to include human rights monitoring as part of the MINURSO peacekeeping mission to prevent these continuing atrocities, and finally, to fulfill its promise to resolve this long standing conflict by going forward with the long promised referendum on self-determination.
Seoul Peace Prize Laureate 2008