TINDUF: A PRISON WITHOUT BARS [1996]

Barely a tenth of a second of life in the Refugee Campos of Tinduf, situated in the inhospitable North-western Sahara next to the Algerian town of the same name.

Around 180000 Saharans survive there in the present. They have been thrown out of their lands and forced to live in exile since 1975 when Morocco started to occupy what used to be a Spanish colony. It first started peacefully with the Green March (5/11/1975), which was quickly followed by the military occupation of the saint cities of the original settlers of Smara (27/11/1975). This last event constituted a war of attrition which lasted until the 6th of September, 1991, when the Settlement Plan was signed and a cease-fire took effect.

Other people, who have survived as well, up to November 1995 (although some are still alive), are hundreds of Moroccans captured by the Polisario during the 16 years in which the conflict took place.

These people are called “Liberated War Prisoners” who, after having suffered for 20 years at the prisons of the Polisario and having been liberated by their captors in 1989 as a gesture of goodwill, weren’t recognised by their own country, Morocco. This last decision was taken as their return as “war prisoners” implied the acceptance of the “Polisario Front” as the legitimate government of the Sahrawi.

One another, The Sahrawi and the Moroccan prisoners, victims of a long and cruel game of economical and strategic interests, exchange their roles as wardens/prisoners in an atmosphere of impotence, unease and aggressiveness: a prison with no bars.

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