2009/12/09

Aminetu Haidar – In Spite of Everything

Our senses, habituated to a never innocent violence – normalized through lingering media bombardment – only react when the scandalous aspect of news reaches the border between reality and fiction. Once in a while, almost always later than sooner, the violence that mercilessly strikes women appears in mass media headlines: women retained in Serbian rape camps, young working women slaughtered in Ciudad Juárez, women murdered by either romantic or sexual partners. Less frequently, a specific face repeats itself on the television screens and a name struggles to conquer a corner of our memory. Today such a face belongs to Saharawi activist Aminetu Haidar, a peaceful defender of human rights and international humanitarian rights whose case began to filter out through tiny snippets of information and now expands like a pool of uncontainable blood.

Aminetu – a former detainee in Moroccan secret jails, where she “disappeared” for years – has the willpower that we usually find in those who have lived and suffered enough to thoroughly know both the strength and fragility of the human spirit. The old and vile complicity between the governments of Spain and Morocco, a complicity that impedes Aminetu’s return to Sahara, her motherland – under military occupation since 1975 – and that has forced her to start a hunger strike against it, is the same that historically marks all perverse pacts signed to the detriment of people everywhere. Now it is the turn of the Saharawi people, affected for 34 years now by such complicity and surely even more as a former Spanish colony whose national identity was modified and resources exploited until the commercial alliances were consolidated that today continue to define the inexcusable continuance of a shameful conflict.

Now, while Spanish government officials turn a deaf ear to a hunger strike in its second week, it’s useless to give an account of Spain’s violations of Aminetu’s demand to return to El Aaiun. Better to unmask the lie which is being repeated a thousand times to make it into a truth. But even more useful is to point out that what is happening in Aminetu’s case unveils the still concealed factual ins and outs of a political system that claims to be democratic and mistakenly acknowledges:

1) That democracy is simply dictatorship’s antonym, and 2) that societies are satisfied with periodic elections and spaces where they can shout their dissatisfaction even if nothing changes in the real world. Is this the harbor to which the globally celebrated “Spanish transition” has arrived after those very same 34 years? Or is it that the transition process is unfinished and one of its steps consists of a combination of handwashing and complicity with the current occupying power in its former colony?
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In these circumstances her latent death will continue being the responsibility of both the Spanish and Moroccan governments and of international indifference. Atenea Acevedo

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