January 22, 2021

Open letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations

Open letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations

Mr. Antonio Guterres,

My name is Sidi Talebbuia, I was born in the Saharawi refugee camps in Tindouf in 1986; I am currently a lawyer and I live in Madrid (Spain). I am writing this letter to try to explain to you what the Second Sahrawi War means, what so many years of waiting mean for my generation.

I still remember that night on September 6, 1991 when, without knowing why, the women left the jaimas hooting and repeating spontaneous slogans of – “Free Sahara and Morocco out”, “independence is here”. I was not more than five years old and I was running through the jubilant crowd completely unconcerned and without being aware of what this celebration meant.

Over the years I understood that that night, my mother, my aunts, my neighbors, my sisters, and all the women in the camp were celebrating the end of an atrocious war that lasted 16 years, they were celebrating the return of their children, husbands and Brothers from the Front, they were celebrating that their sacrifice had been worth it; they celebrated the solemn promise of the UN of a free and democratic referendum that would end so many years of exile and bloodshed.

The years passed and the joy of that summer night turned into sadness and despair, tiredness and boredom; the Camp continued to grow as those of us who were born in that inhospitable land grew older, and as the years passed our happy memory of that carefree childhood turned into a longing to relive a glorious past. The anecdotes of those heroic revolutionaries gave us courage and courage, their ability to corner Morocco and force it to hide in that trench of more than 2,700 km that divides our land. This is how the years passed and the new Sahrawi generations, much better trained than our parents and, with greater ambitions and aspirations for the future, we became frustrated when we saw the inaction of your Organization.

You promised us a future and we were trained to live it; You instilled in us the values ​​of democracy and freedom; we really believed that the UN would keep its promise. All our efforts were made dreaming of a Free Sahara; all the sacrifices, years of exile, years of training away from our families, years of enduring the humiliation to which Morocco subjected our loved ones in the Occupied Zones, years of abuses and complicit silence, years of absolute nothingness.

I never believed in war as a solution, I always kept hope for a peaceful solution, I trusted in the process you promised us, I believed that sooner or later I could vote and decide on the future of my People in a fair and impartial process, but recent events have shown me how naive I have been.

Today many friends and my Spanish host family are writing to me, who are also my family, amazed by the silence of the Government of Spain (legal administrator of the Sahara), they all repeat the same thing to me. “This war is suicide, there are very few of you, barely half a million against thirty-odd million, you don’t have military capacity,” they tell me; They are not aware of the meaning of despair, they do not understand that when your dignity is stolen, you have nothing left to lose, they do not understand that when you were born dreaming of the freedom of your people, you will defend it with your life, they do not understand that although I have built a future for myself in Spain, my mind was always in the Sahara with my people, they do not understand what it means to be born in exile and long for a homeland that has been usurped by force, no, they do not understand it.

Perhaps neither Morocco nor the International Community understand it, and that is why instead of taking up the outstretched hand of the Polisario Front in these almost 30 years to negotiate a solution, they preferred to ignore us, as if we did not exist, as if the passing of the years and our accommodation in the Diaspora would mean abandoning our struggle, as if time were to erase our values ​​and libertarian spirit; no, they don’t understand it and that’s why they underestimate us.

Now that the war has started, let them assume their responsibilities, because we did the impossible to avoid it, but you have thrown us back into the destruction and barbarism of war; Now that you have woken us up from our long lethargy of patience, do not come and demand that the Polisario return to the path of peace and negotiations in exchange for empty promises, because with or without the Polisario, the Sahrawis have said ENOUGH NOW; With or without the Polisario, the Sahrawis will give our lives for our homeland; With or without the Polisario, the Sahrawis are not going to stop until we start our freedom.


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