By Sidahmed Tfeil and Madeleine Bair


A series of recent videos document the latest attack against Sahrawi protesters calling on Morocco to recognize the sovereignty of Western Sahara. In this video of a September 23 protest in the city of Assa, the figure of 20-year-old activist Shin Rashid is circled so that viewers can see where he stood when a vehicle pulled up to the protest quickly before taking off. When the filmer and others approach Rashid, he is bleeding and severely injured. According to the uploader and various reports, Rashid died from a rubber bullet wound. In a video taken later that day, Rashid’s mother tells the cameraman her son had been protesting with friends. In her hands, she holds rubber bullets she says were used to kill her son. She implores viewers and the international community to join her in demanding an independent investigation of Moroccan authorities, whom she believes are responsible for her son’s death.

Human Rights Context

The killing of Shin Rashid took place just weeks before UN envoy Christopher Ross visited Western Sahara in an attempt to resolve the country’s long-disputed status. While much of the world recognizes the sovereignty of the state, Morocco regards it as part of the Moroccan kingdom. The 2012 U.S. State Department report on the country documents impunity for human rights violations, and the restriction on pro-independent views and associations. Protesters are often jailed for peaceful demonstrations, or even for raising a Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic flag, During Ross’s visit, demonstrators surrounded a UN vehicle to draw attention to these issues. Even then, authorities reportedly used violence to break up the demonstrations, resulting in several injured civilians, as depicted in this video of a man filmed in a hospital.

Behind the camera

Western Sahara is a dangerous place for those filming protests. Morocco prohibits reports that would support or even document the independence movement or criticize the king. Because of that risk, those who film social movements do not dare upload them to their own YouTube accounts, but rather send them to third parties, such as Al Khayma Press, Assa Presse and Equipe Media, which often operate outside of Western Sahara or Morocco.

3 thoughts on “Killing of a Protester in the Disputed Western Sahara

  1. I am now not sure where you are getting your info, but great topic.
    I must spend a while learning more or understanding more.
    Thanks for great info I used to be searching for this info for my mission.

  2. I have personally my aunt living up there in Dakhla-Western Sahara( hopefully Moroccan secret services watch-dog is not recognising me!), and she reported heinous and rather gruesime killings and rape of Western Sahrawis last year. As a matter of fact, she was afraid for own life, and said that the main objective of the MOroccan government is to proceed to a massive deportation of indigenous people or native people and replace them by Moroccan Berbers who live up in Agadir and other Northern Moroccan areas which is the most wicked game a Human Rights activist could ever here of. I do firmly think as Mauritanian that these guys have been suffering in concentration – like camps offered to them by Algeria ( a strategic ally of Polisario Liberation Front) under a very harsh dersert climate in ‘Tindouf ‘, an area situated between Mauritania and Algeria. They fought bravely like intrepid eagles for so long without gaining the least support from the International community to get their freedom from the grip of the imperial Kingdom so far.

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