Western Sahara: Did You Know?
- Western Sahara is the only colony in Africa that has not been de-colonized; once a colony of Spain known as Spanish Sahara, it was invaded by Morocco, a former colony of France, in 1975, and currently Morocco occupies most of Western Sahara.
- The Sahrawi people, the indigenous people of Western Sahara, have strived for over 35 years for the right to vote on self-determination which was first promised by Spain in 1974; reaffirmed by the International Court of Justice in 1975 (the day Morocco invaded their country); and promised by the United Nations (UN) in 1991.
- Sahrawis have adopted a constitution guaranteeing the right to vote for all citizens 18 years of age; equal rights for women; a free market economy; religious freedom; and elected government. They have run their refugee camps utilizing a democratic system with elections for their leaders.
- The Sahrawis, a Muslim people, renounce all forms of terrorism and instead have relied on the rule of law and peaceful demonstrations to achieve their right to self-determination.
- Most Sahrawis, approximately 165,000, live in refugee camps outside Tindouf in western Algeria where they fled when Morocco invaded; Despite the harsh conditions in the refugee camps the Sahrawi people have achieved an over 90% literacy rate making them the most educated African people group.
- There are also Sahrawis living in Moroccan-Occupied Western Sahara who have disappeared, been tortured and killed for peacefully advocating for self-determination according to reports by the U.S. State Department, Freedom House, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the World Organization Against Torture, and Reporters without Borders. Because of the repression of the Sahrawis, Freedom House has annually designated Moroccan-Occupied Western Sahara as one of the world’s ten worst regimes