The Spanish authorities ordered the army to fire on a crowd of men, women and children who gathered in El Ayoun, to call for an end to Spanish colonial policy.
It is 50 years since the disappearance of the Sahrawi leader Mohammed Sidi Brahim "Bassiri". He was arrested on 17 June 1970 during a massive demonstration against the colonial administration in the Zemla quarter of El Ayoun, capital of Western Sahara. The signatories of the Manifesto 50 years since the Zemla Massacre recall that the Spanish authorities ordered the army to fire on a crowd of Sahrawi men, women and children who had gathered in the capital of what was then Spanish Sahara to call for an end to Spanish colonial policy. There was a great repression by Spanish police officers and members of the Tercio Juan de Austria of the Legion. It is not yet known how many people were killed, injured and imprisoned that day. Nor is it known what happened to Bassiri, who was the leader of the Sahara Liberation Movement that called for the protest. Some reports suggest that he was arrested, tortured and then transferred to the outskirts of El Ayoun, where he could have been killed and buried.
For 50 years, the Spanish governments, both those of Franco and of the democracy, have refused to clarify the facts, to point out and punish those responsible and to make reparations to the victims. That is why, this Monday, a group of parliamentarians, including Unidas Podemos, presented to the Congress of Deputies a Non-law Proposal asking for the clarification of the facts in relation to the Sahrawi leader who disappeared at the hands of Spanish police officers and to make public all files related to him. They also call for a process of truth, justice and reparation in memory of Bassiri and all the victims of that repression.
The signatory parliamentary groups, which in addition to Unidas Podemos include EH-Bildu, ER, Compromis, BNG, PSOE, along with others, request that the issue be discussed at the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Tlaxcala's Note: EH-Bildu: Euskal Herria Bildu (Basque Country Unite), ER: Esquerra Republicana (Republican Left, Catalonia), Compromís (Commitment Coalition, Valencian Community), BNG: Bloque Nacionalista Galego (Galician Nationalist Bloc), PSOE: Socialist Party
50 years since the Zemla massacre
On 17 June 1970 the Spanish authorities ordered the army to fire on a crowd of Sahrawi men, women and children who had gathered in the Zemla quarter in El Ayoun, capital of Western Sahara (then Spanish Sahara) to call for an end to the Spanish colonial policy. The rally, totally peaceful in nature, had been called by the so-called Sahara Liberation Movement (OALS). This organisation had managed to bring together a large part of the Sahrawi population in the first major attempt to structure opposition to the Spanish occupation of Western Sahara. It constituted the immediate precedent of the Polisario Front and its leader, Mohamed Sidi Brahim Basir Bassiri, was arrested by the Spanish authorities as well as hundreds of other Saharawis. An undetermined number of Saharawis died or disappeared in the repression unleashed by the Spanish authorities around these events.
For 50 years, the Spanish governments, both those of Franco and of the democracy, have refused to clarify the facts, to point out and punish those responsible and to make reparations to the victims. The actual number of people killed and injured, the names and numbers of those arrested in connection with the events, the circumstances of their detention and their treatment are not known. No official investigation has clarified the final fate of Bassiri, who remained in the hands of the Spanish authorities for nearly a month and who, according to all indications, was made to disappear by those same authorities.
Neither the time that has passed nor the changes that have taken place in the Spanish administration and legislation can serve to hide the facts, and even less to justify the lack of action to clarify the truth, exercise justice and compensate the victims The Spanish State is obliged by the international conventions it has signed, out of dignity and respect for human rights, to close this black page of its history.
Although this and other crimes, committed during more than 100 years of colonial administration of Western Sahara, cannot be compensated until the Spanish State facilitates the free and democratic exercise of the right to self-determination of the Sahrawi people, we would like to take advantage of this sad anniversary to request:
That the Spanish Government, in fulfillment of its obligations and duty to historical memory, recognise and assume the responsibility of the State in the events at Zemla, promoting the necessary investigations for the total clarification of the facts.
Consequently, establish the necessary measures to identify and, where appropriate, punish the guilty parties.
That the Spanish Government establish the necessary measures to ensure full and effective reparation for the victims, in the form of rehabilitation, compensation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition.
That the Spanish Government propose to international institutions - in particular to the European Union and the African Union - the rehabilitation of Mohamed Sidi Brahim Basir Bassiri as a relevant figure in the fight against colonial domination and for the freedom of peoples.
That the Spanish Government, given that the Spanish state continues to be the administrative power in Western Sahara, in accordance with international law, clearly commit itself to work for the immediate and effective exercise of the right to self-determination of the Sahrawi people.
To the European Union, the African Union and the UN to require Spain to monitor the fulfilment of its obligations as the administering power of Western Sahara.