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Morocco police arrest rights activists in disputed Western Sahara

[JURIST] Moroccan police arrested three leading human rights activists and attempted to arrest three others in the disputed Western Sahara [UNHCR backgrounder; pro-independence backgrounder; pro-Morocco backgrounder] region Sunday amid a crackdown before scheduled talks with pro-independence factions next month. Brahim Dahane, president of the Saharawi Association for Human Rights Victims [advocacy website, in French], said that two members of his organization and another activist from another human rights organization were detained by police without cause. Dahane also accused Moroccan police of trying to arrest three other human rights activists.

Morocco [JURIST news archive; AI backgrounder] has occupied Western Sahara since 1975, but the occupation is not recognized by the United States, the European Union, or the UN. In 1991, a UN settlement plan [Wikipedia backgrounder] arbitrated between Morocco and the pro-independence Polisario Front [Wikipedia backgrounder] established a cease-fire. Both sides agreed to an independence referendum [MINURSO official website], which has not yet been held. Subsequent talks have failed to produce tangible agreements. AP has more.

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