http://www.freethemnow.org/Sign_Petition.cfm hachnou galou chi wahdine: Kofi A. Annan, Secretary-General Annan Sahara Report â€“ April 19, 2005 "The Frente Polisario continued to hold 410 Moroccan prisoners of war, some of whom have been in captivity for many years. On 12 February 2005, an unconfirmed report alleged that two of these prisoners had escaped and returned to Morocco. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) continues to pursue the question of persons still unaccounted for in relation to the conflict.â€? "The Frente Polisario continues to hold Moroccan prisoners of war. I call on it once again to release all prisoners without any further delay, in compliance with international humanitarian law and numerous Security Council resolutions and presidential statements. At the same time, I appeal to Morocco, and also to the Frente Polisario, to cooperate fully with ICRC in accounting for those who are still missing owing to the conflict.â€? January 12, 2002 In a report to the Security Council, he noted that most of the prisoners had been held for more than 20 years and described their continued detention as "a serious humanitarian issue". Annan said the situation of Saharan refugees living in camps at Tindouf in neighbouring Algeria was also "a matter of growing concern". Claudio Cordone, Director General of Amnesty International January 2005 "It is unacceptable Moroccans continue to be held for such a long time by Polisario. The immoral detention of these people is a flagrant violation of the international humanitarian law. The continued detention of these men over a decade after the declaration of a cease-fire is a serious abuse of human rights." "It is high time that these men are allowed to return home to their families," the organization said. "Most of the men have been detained for over two decades. Among them are old and sick people, whose release must be a priority." "The continued detention of these men over a decade after the declaration of a cease-fire is a grave abuse of their right to physical and mental integrity," the organization added. Florian Westphal, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) spokesman September 1, 2003 Since 2000, the Polisario has released 946 Moroccan prisoners of war. The ICRC said 914 others are still in captivity in Tindouf, the Polisario's base in southwest Algeria. More than half of them have been in captivity for 28 years, and are believed to be the longest serving prisoners of war in the world, Westphal said. "We are concerned about their state of health, as they have been there so long and a number of them are quite old now," Westphal said. "These people should have been released a long time ago, at the end of hostilities." Emilio J. Cardenas, Diplomat from Argentina 2 diplomats rescue 185 POWs in Sahara // DIPLOMACY: They swoop down on an airstrip and take the old soldiers home. BARBARA CROSSETTE: The New York Times December 10, 1995 "We transported a bunch of old men with one leg, with one hand, without sight," Cardenas said in an interview Thursday, breaking his silence after the adventure was reported in the Argentine press. "They would have died otherwise in the middle of the desert. In fact, since we started talking in June until we delivered those guys, eight had died." "Do you know how we found them?" Cardenas said. "We were told in June when we were there for the Security Council, spending the night with the Sahrawis, that these prisoners were 45 minutes away by jeep. So we went out at 4:30 in the morning, and we saw them, and they broke our hearts. "When we finished the visit, we looked at each other and said, we've got to get these guys out," Cardenas said. "These people have families, and they are otherwise going to die right here in the sand in tiny huts. We saw those guys living like rats. They had spent 17 years in the desert, and we had to get them out. And we did." Ibrahim Hakim, spokesman for top Polisario defectors in Morocco October 27, 1992 Ibrahim Hakim, who was Polisario foreign minister for 10 years and defected to Morocco in August, said the detainees were kept in an "inhuman" situation in camps run by the front in south-western Algeria close to the Tindouf oasis. In a letter sent to the U.N. Security Council urging it "to end the sufferings of our brothers and sisters in the camps and take steps for their liberation." Richard Boucher, US State Dept Spokesman Washington, DC February 14, 2003 Western Sahara: Polisario Release of Moroccan POWs The United States welcomes the February 10th release by the Polisario Front of 100 Moroccan prisoners of war. We want to extend our appreciation to the Government of Spain for its intervention on behalf of the prisoners. As we have said before, the Polisario has an obligation under international humanitarian law to release, without conditions, all remaining Moroccan prisoners captured during the Western Sahara conflict. We call on the Polisario to release the remaining 1160 Moroccan prisoners without delay, all of which have been held for more than a decade after the cessation of hostilities in Western Sahara, and in most instances for more than 20 years. The United States calls on the parties to the Western Sahara dispute to release or account for all those missing or held prisoner since the start of the conflict and to implement confidence building measures, as called for by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1429 and previous resolutions. The United States urges the parties to continue their work to resolve all the issues remaining from this conflict, and to engage seriously with the representatives of the UN Secretary General to achieve a mutually acceptable solution to this long-standing problem. Lynn L. Cassel, Acting US State Dept Spokesperson Washington, DC January 17, 2002 Western Sahara: Polisario Releases Prisoners Of War The United States welcomes the release today by the Polisario Front of 115 Moroccan prisoners of war. We view this latest prisoner release by the Polisario as a positive step toward fulfilling its obligation under international humanitarian law to release, without conditions, all remaining Moroccan prisoners captured during the Western Sahara conflict. We have seen other recent positive developments in the dispute over the Western Sahara, including the efforts made by Morocco to account for Sahrawis missing from the conflict, and the decision taken by Morocco in November to grant amnesty to a number of Sahrawis serving prison sentences. The United States calls on all the parties to the Western Sahara dispute to respect international human rights law and release or account for all those missing or held prisoner since the start of the conflict, as called for by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1359. The United States urges the parties to continue their work to resolve all the issues remaining from this conflict, and to engage seriously with the representatives of the UN Secretary General to achieve a mutually acceptable solution to this long-standing problem. Shems Laghmari D., Family Member of Moroccan Soldier May 17, 2005 "As I am writing this, tears are dropping down face. At this time, my father is a member of the Moroccan Army (FAR). With pride and honor he has been serving in the Sahara War since 1973 and he is still there. As a child my worst nightmare was to hear THE bad news "Dad was captured by those gorillas" or "Sorry, he is dead". The sad part is that I still worry about him. As much as I am proud of him I wish he did not love our country as much as he does. But what can I do? Just live by his example. I heard horror stories from my uncle who was a prisoner of the war 1976-2000! By the time he was released, he did not recognize his own daughters (adult women by now). He lost track of time - he became someone else and Gods knows what's going on in his head! Through this petition I hope we can get our men back to their families. I WISH the Moroccan Government had a better compensation plan for these people who lost their SOULS for the LOVE of their country."