Robert F. Kennedy Center Laureate on hunger strike

Nov 19 2009

Monika Kalra Varma

Our 2008 RFK Human Rights Laureate, Aminatou Haidar, began a hunger strike on November 16th after being forcibly removed from her homeland of Western Sahara. And we need your help to support an investigation of her removal.

Last Friday, Aminatou was returning to Western Sahara from a visit to the United States and Spain. While in the U.S., she briefed Congressional staff on the human rights situation in Western Sahara, met with United Nations member states, and received the Civil Courage Prize from the Train Foundation for her bold defense of the rights and liberties of the Saharawi people.

Upon her arrival at the Laayoune airport in Western Sahara, Aminatou declared her homeland as Western Sahara — not Morocco — on her immigration entry form. Although this has been her practice in the past, this time Moroccan authorities held Aminatou at the airport. They interrogated her overnight and confiscated her passport. Moroccan officials claim that Aminatou signed a form renouncing her citizenship. Then they put her on a plane to the Canary Islands against her wishes.

Spanish authorities will not allow Aminatou to leave the Canary Islands without a passport or travel documents. She has begun a hunger strike to protest her removal. The situation is all the more urgent as Aminatou suffers from serious health problems.

The RFK Center has begun to reach out to international leaders on Aminatou’s behalf. We need your help to speak with a louder voice.

Join us today and call on United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay to immediately conduct an investigation into the circumstances of Aminatou’s forced removal from Western Sahara. RFK Center and Aminatou have repeatedly called for a U.N. human rights monitoring mechanism to ensure the Saharawi people’s rights are protected. Aminatou’s current situation further highlights this urgent need.


Monika Kalra Varma
Director, Center for Human Rights
RFK Center for Justice & Human Rights

Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights
1367 Connecticut Avenue, N.W. Suite 200
Washington, DC 20036

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