Sahrawi Association of Victims of Grave Human Rights Violations Committed by the Moroccan State

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Sahrawi Association of Victims of Grave Violations of Human Rights Committed by the Moroccan State
Founded May 7, 2005, El Aaiun, Western Sahara
Type Non-profit
  • El Aaiun, Western Sahara
Key people
Brahim Dahane, President; Elghalia Djimi, Vice President
Website Official website (in Arabic), (in English), (in Spanish), (in French)

The Asociación Saharaui de Víctimas de Violaciones Graves de los Derechos Humanos Cometidas por el Estado Marroquí (Spanish for the Sahrawi Association of Victims of Grave Violations of Human Rights Committed by the Moroccan State; Arabic,جمعية الصحراوية لضحايا الانتهاكات الجسيمة لحقوق الإنسان المرتكبة من طرف الدولة المغربية; French, Association Sahraouie des Victimes des Violations Graves des Droits Humains Commises par l’Etat Marocain), or ASVDH, is a Sahrawi human rights organization operating in the Moroccan-occupied parts of Western Sahara (by Morocco considered the kingdom's "Southern Provinces").


ASVDH objectives are:[1]

  • To respect and defend human rights
  • Working to uncover the truth about the circumstances of grave human rights violations
  • Find the unaccounted victims of forced disappearances in Morocco
  • To return to their families the remains of the Sahrawi martyrs who died in secret Moroccan prisons
  • To press for the release of Sahrawi political prisoners and the right to reparations through material and moral compensation and physical rehabilitation for the victims and relatives, in accordance with International Human Rights Law and International Jurisprudence
  • To end impunity and push for the prosecution of violations of crimes against humanity related to the Moroccan occupation in Western Sahara
  • To protect the community against arbitrary arrest and detention, forced disappearances, torture, murder and other forms of degradation and attacks on human dignity
  • To establish a culture of peaceful respect for human rights in Western Sahara based on the principles of the International Human Rights Covenants.


ASVDH was founded in Laayoune on May 7, 2005, by Sahrawi activists, along with President Brahim Dahane, a former prisoner of conscience. Although the association had completed all the procedures under the Moroccan Law of Public Associations, it has been refused permission to operate by the Moroccan authorities, and thus operates illegally, with very limited means at its disposal.[1] Its activities have consisted of researching and recording abuses by interviewing alleged victims of persecution, and releasing documentation and photographs of demonstrations, police interventions and torture scars on the Internet.

ASVDH has been outspoken in its defense of jailed Sahrawi human rights defenders and independence activists, such as Aminatou Haidar and Ali Salem Tamek. These took place during the ongoing anti-occupation protests that broke out in El Aaiun in May 2005, which ASVDH refers to as Western Sahara's "Independence Intifada".

As a result of this, ASVDH has been the subject of harassment and police action. For example, Dahane was detained on October 30, 2005, and later charged with "belonging to an illegal organization", namely ASVDH. This was condemned by Amnesty International and other international human rights organizations, which campaigned for Dahane's release.[2] As part of a general royal pardon, Dahane and other members of ASVDH were set free on April 22, 2006.[3]

The ASVDH applied for official government recognition in 2006 and the following year a court ruled that it needs to be recognized by the government. However, this did not happen until 2015.[4][5] Moroccan authorities continue to interfere with its work in monitoring human rights abuses.[6] The Moroccan government has called independence movements, such as ASVDH, a threat to security in the region.[7]

The work of the ASVDH has been cited by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch,[8] and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "About ASVDH". ASVDH. Archived from the original on 23 March 2010. Retrieved 17 October 2016. 
  2. ^ "MOROCCO/WESTERN SAHARA: Human rights defenders imprisoned". Amnesty International. Archived from the original on 13 August 2007. Retrieved 17 October 2016. 
  3. ^ "Morocco/Western Sahara: Sahrawi human rights defender on trial". Amnesty International. 3 April 2006. Archived from the original on 17 December 2006. Retrieved 16 October 2016. 
  4. ^ "Morocco and Western Sahara: Events of 2015". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 2016-10-16. 
  5. ^ Weiss, Brennan (6 October 2015). "Students Protests for Western Sahara Independence Draw Crackdowns". Al-Fanar Media. Retrieved 17 October 2016. 
  6. ^ "Morocco/Western Sahara 2015/2016". Amnesty International. Retrieved 2016-10-16. 
  7. ^ Abelson, Jenn (16 June 2013). "Western Sahara: Why Africa's Last Colony Can't Break Free". Boston Globe. Retrieved 17 October 2016. (Registration required (help)). 
  8. ^ "Open Letter to ECOSOC regarding the Committee on NGOs". 24 May 2016. Retrieved 15 October 2016. 
  9. ^ Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2007. House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. 2007. p. 2002. Retrieved 2016-10-16. 

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