The naïve frankness and what is presumably political conscience-salving of Peter Van Walsum, ex-personal envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for Western Sahara (or rather, it seems, for Morocco) are the product of a position he decided to adopt after three years in the post, because, according to him, “if the [Security] Council had been prepared to impose a solution (...)” his analysis would have been different. This has led him to express such subjective and contradictory opinions that we feel it is our obligation to respond to him and, at the same time, ask him some questions. The situation has become so muddled and absurd that one wonders if his real intention was to confuse the uninformed, deceive those who put their trust in his work, and further discredit the UN – if that is possible – by criticising the Organisation"s passiveness for failing to apply its own resolutions on the unalienable right of the Saharawi people to self-determination.
The fact is that at this stage in his life, after damaging his reputation and publicly tainting his prestige with a lack of coherence more appropriate to an easily manipulable novice, he cannot justify his job navigating such stormy waters while acknowledging that the POLISARIO, in other words, the Saharawi people have legality on their side, but that Morocco is more implacable and is lapdog to some permanent member of the Security Council.
Mr. Walsum, why do you not say things as they are? Why do you not remove all that padding from your speeches and focus on the facts? It is simple, Mr. Walsum; you need only concentrate on the main idea, on keeping the truth in balance, on showing the courage to recognise what justice is, or, if not, on resigning honourably before selling yourself to the highest bidder. This can all be achieved in a few words. There is no need for untimely explanations; it is consistency and absolute clarity that are needed.
The “Sahara problem” is not complex, Mr. Walsum, but it is an enduring one, above all for the Saharawi people, who have seen many of their children die during these 33 years in exile, while others are born in lands that are not theirs. They are tired of hearing people like you telling them that “nothing will change”. Because things do change. All that is needed is the desire for change – and this is the desire of the Saharawi people. They want to return to their homes, to go back and grow up in the land of their forefathers; they want to live in freedom in a sovereign democratic state, decide their own future and have rights that are respected, both as human beings and as a people with a national identity. And when this is a peoples' desire and they know they have a legitimate right to it, Mr. Walsum, I can assure you that nothing will make them give up. It is therefore offensive and disrespectful to our people to insinuate that “if the POLISARIO renounced full independence, it would be assured of overwhelming international support”. Of all you have seen during these three years, what part have you failed to understand? Because, to date, the SADR (Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic) is recognised by more than eighty countries, as well as hundreds of associations in Spain and many more in the rest of the world. The Saharawi people, and consequently POLISARIO, enjoy wide international support in their peaceful struggle for total independence. Not one country in the world has agreed to accept Morocco's sovereignty over the Western Sahara.
The Sahara conflict is not insoluble, Mr. Walsum; the fact is, it takes courage to admit that Morocco is making a mockery of the international community and of UN resolutions. Its proposal for autonomy, apart from being unacceptable, is no more than a front to divert attention from the grave violation of human rights that the Saharawi people living in the Occupied Territories have suffered since the Moroccan invasion, which has resulted in the existence of refugee camps and thousands of Saharawis being displaced throughout the world.
If, as you say, international institutions do not have the executive power to apply their resolutions, then this is an additional problem affecting Saharawi people and peoples all over the world. It has extremely serious implications because it leaves us totally defenceless. At the same time, we are deeply frustrated with the work undertaken by these institutions, whose aim should be to see that policies are put into practice. The weakness of the United Nations is very wearing; however, that is not sufficient reason to give in to a genocidal invader and renounce our right to free determination.
Morocco knows very little about diplomacy and a lot about political prostitution, in other words, “realpolitik”. If you expect the Saharawi people to kowtow to such an invasive and criminal government, you have either lost your mind or else your retirement is all taken care of, with a mansion awaiting you in Tangiers on the same street as that of Sr. Pérez de Cuéllar.
The Saharawi people have already suffered considerable losses and have had to give up a great deal. Their struggle still carries on, with the best weapons available: truth, legality and the unswerving desire to be a free and independent people.
It is clear that something has to change: the aggressor has to stop his assault, the invader has to give back what is not his, and the law has to mete out justice. We shall endeavour to ensure that whatever comes will be dealt with in the right way.
For a free Sahara,