Keeping America Strong. Promoting Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights Abroad.

United Nations Fourth Committee

“The Question of Western Sahara”

October 2012

Mr. Chairman, honored delegates, thank you for this opportunity to speak today.

I am an American. I have been working on the ground in the Saharawi refugee camps along with hundreds of other Americans since 1999.

My nation, the United States, had been a colony under the rule of a Kingdom. There came a point when, against all odds, we had to take a stand and declare our independence from that Kingdom. We claimed our unalienable rights, under God, to be our own nation, holding fast to the principals of freedom and justice for ALL.

The people of Western Sahara have been living under the rule of a Kingdom that invaded their God-given homeland in 1975, a Kingdom that has physically divided their people ‘the Saharawi’ creating a land-minded berm stretching the entire length of that country.

On every map in every home and classroom in the United States and most countries of the world, Western Sahara is there. Labeled as ‘OCCUPIED BY MOROCCO.’   On the wall here in the UN is a clear map with red indicating all those places in the world that are still colonies. The largest red land-mass on that map is Western Sahara! It’s like a big, ugly blood-red splotch in the world. THIS is your 4th Committee’s purpose, DECOLONIZATION in our world. And you’ve been assigned the ‘issue of Western Sahara.’ This is what you do!

The Saharawi do not have the freedom nor means to speak to this Body of world influencers. Those who live in Western Sahara under the direct oppression of Morocco risk dire consequences for voicing their true desires for independence. I have personally experienced just a taste of what they live under in the occupied territory. Even here in my own country, I have been told by a Moroccan official to never again come to these hearings to testify. I have also faced repeated harassment in the past 7 years during these very proceedings, because I truthfully testify of my 13-year firsthand experiences in the refugee camps. That’s the mentality of a bullying occupier. If Moroccan-paid individuals think they can try to oppress an American citizen in my own country, just imagine what they are doing in the occupied territories. It further legitimizes the reports of the widespread human rights abuses facing those who live in Western Sahara.

Those Saharawi who live in the refugee camps have suffered with incredible patience, waiting for the champions of freedom and independence of this world to let them determine their own future as a nation. In the midst of a massive part of the world that is in violent turmoil like we’ve not seen before, the Saharawi people are a shining example of democracy and, up until now, a commitment to peace. Their reality is ‘No Peace, No War.’ Their patience is wearing dangerously thin. They are nearing a fatal precipice with a growing sentiment that they would rather die fighting for their own country than to be known as the longest-lasting refugees who died committed to a peaceful solution.  

The grave human rights abuses being committed by a Kingdom that has the audacity to say it ‘backs human rights’ are merely evidence of a government that has disqualified itself to govern a nation that never belonged to them. The recent experience of the Robert F Kennedy Foundation delegation has hopefully lifted a corner of the rug under which Morocco’s abusive and brutal crimes against the people of Western Sahara have been hiding for far too long. As news began appearing on the internet of that delegation’s recent eyewitness accounts and photos, I was sitting with the Saharawi director of our refugee camps Center. He began to see Facebook pictures of a Saharawi woman on the ground, her face beaten and bloodied by Moroccan police in Western Sahara. I watched him reel with shock as he recognized that the woman was his own 57 year old sister! The woman the RFK delegation had witnessed being beaten in Layoune was my dear colleague’s elder sister, from whom he has been forcibly separated for the past 37 years by that shameful, illegal, deadly berm.

It is time for the United Nations to take action and put an immediate end to the largest illegally occupied colony in the world, Western Sahara.  

The UN influence has done it in East Timor. The UN has done it in Sudan. The UN has carried out its decolonization responsibilities in so many places on this earth. This 37 year crisis stands as a failure on your record. You CAN DO IT.   IT IS SOLVABLE!

When this great Body - the United Nations - immediately ends this travesty and the people of Western Sahara are reunited in their own sovereign country, THERE WILL BE NO HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN WESTERN SAHARA BY AN OPPRESSIVE 37-YEAR OCCUPYING INVADER…the Kingdom of Morocco.

Thank you for hearing this plea.

Janet Lenz