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Wednesday, 16 December 2009

AMINATOU HAIDAR'S STORY UP TO HER HUNGER STRIKE




Born July 24, 1966 in the town of Tata, Morocco, Ms. Haidar studied modern literature and received her Bachelor's degree in Laayoune.
Because of her pro-Sahrawi ideology, she was persecuted by the Moroccan authorities on several occasions. In 1987, then aged 21, she participated (with 700 other people) in an event seeking a referendum for independence of the Sahara. She was taken into custody and sentenced to four years in prison.
In 2005, she was sentenced by Moroccan authorities to seven months in prison in Laayoune. Amnesty International, which sent an observer to identify any irregularities in the conditions and reasons for her detention, classified her as a prisoner of conscience. Members of Parliament have also launched an international campaign to release Ms. Haidar. It was signed by 178 members.
After more than a month of detention, Ms. Haidar was released in January 2006. Her release revived militancy among the pro-Sahrawi, which resulted in street demonstrations in Laayoune and among Sahrawi students at the University Cadi Ayyad of Marrakesh.
In August 2006, Haidar was denied a Moroccan passport for her two children.
Under the Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER). Aminatou received 45,000 Euros in compensation from the Moroccan authorities when she presented herself as a Moroccan.
On November 13, 2009, returning from New York where she received a civic courage award from the Train Foundation, Ms. Haidar marked on her immigration form while entering Morocco that she was "resident in Western Sahara" and left the nationality section blank. She then argued with the customs who objected. She was then heard by an attorney and several witnesses of her own family, before whom she proclaimed herself a non-Moroccan by throwing her passport and identity card at the Moroccan official. She then decided to take a plane bound for Lanzarote, Canary Islands, where the flight had previously stopped. Despite having no passport, she persuaded the captain of the aircraft, pointing out her Spanish residency card. The captain was initially reluctant but finally received approval from Spanish authorities to board.
Once in Lanzarote airport in the Canary Islands, Ms. Haidar began a hunger strike.
Prizes: Given her activism on behalf of independence of Western Sahara, Ms. Haidar was nominated for several awards:
Juan Maria Bandrés (2006)
Solidar Silver Rose Award (2007)
RFK Human Rights Award (2008)
Civil Courage Award (2009)

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