Escaping Moroccan Occupation: The Sahara’s Forgotten War (Part 1)

Written by Mark

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In Part 1, we attend the 38th anniversary celebration of the proclamation of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. The Sahrawis celebrate this anniversary every year despite the facts that Morocco controls a third of their homeland and the parade takes place in Algerian refugee camps run by the Polisario.

At the celebration, we meet Sahrawi activist Sidahmed Talmidi, who, in October 2010, helped mobilize the Gdeim Izik protest camp near Laâyoune, the capital of occupied Western Sahara. Chomsky refers to the thousands of Saharwis who gathered there to demonstrate against both their unequal social and economic status and the brutal denial of their human rights as the real beginning of the Arab Spring.

Then Ahmed Salem, a war veteran and commander of the Polisario’s 2nd Battalion, shows us around the makeshift refugee camps in the arid desert, where more than 100,000 Sahrawis who have escaped the Moroccan occupation have lived for nearly 40 years, relying on humanitarian aid and waiting for the chance to return to their homeland.

VICE News travels to Western Sahara’s occupied and liberated territories, as well as the Polisario-run refugee camps in Algeria, to find out more about one of the world’s least reported conflicts.

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