Saharawis and their supporters have long decried the unique situation of MINURSO, the United Nations mission to Western Sahara, as the UN’s only mandate that lacks a human rights monitoring mechanism.
Journalists in the Western Saharan capital of Laayoune have reported a dramatic increase in Moroccan police and military units after police brutally attacked a Saharawi activist, sparking widespread demonstrations.
On February 13, Moroccan police were reported to have “brutally attacked” Saharawi human rights activist Sultana Khaya and her sister, Elwaara, at their home in the coastal city of Bojador. According to Sahara Press Service, the two women were beaten by police, with Soltana suffering a serious eye injury and Elwarra’s jaw being broken after being hit with stones.
Warning: the videos below may be disturbing to some viewers
Protesters subsequently skirmished with police outside Khaya’s home in the following days, after they came to show their support for the activists. “Abandoned by the international community, Saharawi youth flock to Sultana’s home in show of solidarity,” media collective Saharawi Voice tweeted on Monday, adding that “these events are illegal in occupied Western Sahara.”
The activist is no stranger to police repression: during widespread student protests at Moroccan universities in 2007, Khaya was beaten and arrested during a sit-in demonstration in Marrakech, resulting in the loss of an eye,