Congress Leaders Urge US to Seek Immediate Release of Sahrawi Police Chief Arrested

By Novell Zwange  – United States of America’s Congressional leaders Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, (R-FL) and Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton requesting US action to secure the immediate release of Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud, the outspoken Sahrawi police chief arrested by the Polisario Front last week as he tried to rejoin his wife and children in Algeria’s Tindouf refugee camps.

Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud

The letter joins an outcry from international human rights advocacy groups criticizing the Polisario’s arrest of its own Chief Police Inspector for alleged “treason” and “espionage” simply for voicing his support of a Moroccan autonomy solution to reunite Sahrawi families and end the decades-long Western Sahara conflict.

“We are writing today to express our concern for the safety and well being of Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud,” wrote Rep. Diaz-Balart, co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Refugee Caucus, and Rep. Moran, member of the House Democratic Caucus leadership, both ardent international human rights advocates. “We urge the State Department to work to secure the immediate release of Mr. Sidi Mouloud.  He, and everyone in the refugee camps, should be allowed the right to movement, freedom of speech, and liberty.”

The letter notes that Sidi Mouloud was in Morocco on a recent UN-sponsored family visit. After seeing the progress in W. Sahara, which he had not seen in more than three decades, he announced his intention to return to the refugee camps to express his support for Morocco’s compromise autonomy plan to resolve the 35-year W. Sahara dispute. The letter cites concern from international human rights organizations—including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Leadership Council for Human Rights, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)—criticizing the arrest for violating Sidi Mouloud’s rights and voicing concern for his safety.

A petition drive appealing for Sidi Mouloud’s immediate release has been organized by the Leadership Council for Human Rights, and the Moroccan American Center for Policy (MACP), a non-profit organization whose principal mission is to inform opinion makers, government officials and interested publics in the United States about political and social developments in Morocco and the role being played by the Kingdom of Morocco in broader strategic developments in North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East.