It has been five and a half years since the arbitrary detention of the Gdeim Izik and three years since they were condemned by a Moroccan military court to sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment for their peaceful struggle against Morocco's occupation.

After a first hunger strike on the 24th and 25th February, a group of these detainees has started an indefinite hunger strike to achieve recognition of their status as political prisoners just a few days ahead of Ban-Ki Moon's visit to the refugee camps in Tindouf and to the Liberated Territories of Western Sahara.

On behalf the European United Left/European Nordic Left Group in the European Parliament, group chair Gabi Zimmer (Germany) said: “We express our support for the struggle of the Sahrawi people and our full solidarity with all Sahrawi political prisoners in Moroccan jails, in particular with the Gdeim Izik group on hunger strike”.

“I would like to reiterate the call made several times by the European Parliament for the immediate release of all Sahrawi political prisoners and for the fundamental rights of the people of Western Sahara to be respected. Morocco must end its blockade of the Occupied Territories of Western Sahara and allow UN officials, European Members of Parliament, independent observers, NGOs and the international press access to the territories”, Ms Zimmer said.

“The Gdeim Izik prisoners were condemned by a Moroccan military court of the Occupying Power, expressly prohibited by the Fourth Geneva Convention and even by the Moroccan Constitution. They are imprisoned in Morocco, hundreds of kilometres away from Western Sahara. This causes an additional suffering on their relatives,” GUE/NGL MEP Paloma López (Spain), Vice-Chair of the Intergroup on Western Sahara at the European Parliament.

“The criminal procedure has been fraught by numerous errors rendering it legally invalid, such as the systematic use of torture to extract confessions during investigations, according to international observers, including Members of the European Parliament. Therefore, the Gdeim Izik Group must be immediately and unconditionally released,” MEP López concluded.

GUE/NGL Press Contact:

Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20

Nikki Sullings + 32 483 03 55 75

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