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Norwegian Youth politicians detained in Western Sahara
21 ago 2007
Two Norwegian youth politicians, Andrea Gustavsson (on the left) and Kamilla Eidsvik (on the right), were detained on Monday in the city of El Aaiun, in Western Sahara. They were arrested after having witnessed police officers storming one of the after having witnessed police officers storming one of the neighboring houses to where they were staying in the city, the Norwegian press agency NTB reports.
Gustavsson, a Swedish citizen, represents Sør-Trøndelag county on the national board of Socialist Youth League of Norway (SU), and Eidsvik is active in the youth party's international work. SU is the youth organization of Norway's ruling socialist party.

The two youth politicians were put in an armored vehicle and taken to a police station, where they were interrogated for two hours before being released.

"They wanted to know who we are, why we are on visit here and who we were staying with", Eidsvik tells NTB by phone.

Ordered to return
The two youth politicians were ordered to return to the police station on Tuesday afternoon. It is uncertain what will happen then.

"We had planned to return to Norway on Wednesday, so we don't expect to be expelled", Eidsvik says.

The SU activists are more worried what kind of destiny is awaiting the family they have stayed with, once they return to Norway.

Visited Norway
Among the family members, is the 22 year old human rights activist, Rabab Amidane, who earlier this summer visited Norway. In Oslo she met among others Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, as well as politicians from several youth parties.

"We are very worried what will happen to them. Rabab is convinced that they will be arrested once we leave", Eidsvik says.

The human rights activist has on several previous occasions been tortured by Moroccan police, and her brother was recently sentenced to five years in prison.

Norwegian journalists and activists have on several occasions been expelled from Western Sahara and Morocco over the last years.

In 2005, a delegation including Member of Parliament Eva Kristin Hansen, and the Rafto Foundation chairman, Arne Lynngård, was expelled. Their interpreter was detained and tortured.

In January this year the Swedish freelance journalist Lars Björk was expelled from Western Sahara after taking pictures on a group of young people who demonstrated against the Moroccan occupation.

Nordic diplomats have repeatedly the last two years been denied access to the former Spanish colony in Western Sahara, under Moroccan occupation since 1975.

SU:s mother party the Socialist Left Party [in the Norwegian government], in a national board meeting this year, decided to demand a Norwegian recognition of the Western Sahara republic, referring to Morocco's systematic undermining of the UN:s demand of self-determination for its people.

[Translated from Norwegian by the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara]

Source (Norwegian original):

For more info, please visit The Norwegian Support Group for Western Sahara and the Union of Saharawi Writers
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