Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Western Sahara - Africa's Last colony

Film screening and discussion
Tues 16 November
6:30pm, Perth Activist Centre
15/5 Aberdeen St, East Perth (next to McIver station)

Western Sahara is the last remaining colonial case in Africa. The final status of this former Spanish colony has been at the heart of one of the continent’s longest disputes, and its fate remains undecided. Thirty years after Spain’s departure the Sahrawis are still waiting for a long-promised referendum to determine their territory’s future. For the 160,000 refugees living in camps -- many born in exile -- the stakes are high. Either they will become the 52nd African country or a province of Morocco.

The Moroccan invasion in 1975 signalled the beginning of a different kind of war. With the Spanish gone, the Sahwari people were confronted by a Moroccan army, well armed and far larger in number. The Sahrawis relied on their only advantage, which came from their Bedouin culture -- a deeply ingrained understanding of the desert terrain. They knew each rock formation and practically every tree. Against all odds, they kept fighting through 16 years of war, while their political leadership took up the struggle on the diplomatic front to gain international recognition. By 1991, with 76 countries recognizing the Sahrawis’ right to self determination, and no military victory likely, the UN negotiated a ceasefire based on the promise of a referendum that would determine the people’s wishes regarding their future status. More than a decade later, with half a billion dollars spent on a UN Mission and numerous attempts to decide who is eligible to vote, the Sahwaris believe that the UN has failed to live up to their commitments and has sided with Morocco.

This film and discussion will feature Western Sahara: Africa's Last Colony and a brief segment from the 7:30 Report which shows the Australian link. Discussion will be lead by Cate Lewis from the Australian Western Sahara Association based in Melbourne.

Ph Michele 0419 942 045 or Alex 0413 976 638, 9218 9608.