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08 Nov 2010


Global Europe

Spanish GUE/NGL MEP Willy Meyer was prevented yesterday from visiting Western Sahara when Moroccan police boarded a plane in El Aaiun airport and stopped Meyer and a group of journalists who were travelling with him from disembarking.

The Spanish MEP had planned to visit the Saharawi camp on the outskirts of El Aaiun to acquire first hand information about the situation of more than 20,000 Saharawi people who have moved there in protest at the situation they endure in territories occupied by Morocco. Meyer wanted to reaffirm solidarity with the struggle of the people of Western Sahara, who currently face increasing repression at the hands of Moroccan authorities.

Meyer and the journalists who were travelling with him were told that they were not allowed to leave the plane as police mistreatment caused one the journalists to suffer a panic attack.

"It was thanks to the captain of the plane who argued that we were still on Spanish territory, expelling the Moroccan police, that the situation didn't get worse" the MEP explained.

Following the event, Meyer returned to Gran Canarias airport from where he had left and where several Saharawi activists, including Aminetu Haidar, were waiting for him.

Denouncing the behaviour of the Moroccan authorities, Meyer said it was clear that they did not want anyone to witness what is going on there.

Meyer will raise the issue with the Spanish Foreign Minister and High Representative Ashton, calling on the EU to demand an explanation from Morocco on the worrying situation in the occupied territories of Western Sahara.

Gianfranco Battistini + 32 475 646628
David Lundy + 32 485  505812
Gay Kavanagh + 32 473 842320