A Muslim Gandhi?
Badshah Khan and the World’s First Nonviolent Army:
This year marks the 75th anniversary
of an unprecedented yet almost entirely unknown event in the history
of nonviolent resistance. In the main square of the city of
Peshawar, in modern day Pakistan, several hundred nonviolent Pashtun
resisters were shot and killed by British-led troops as they
The prominent Western Saharan human rights activist Aminatou Haidar
has launched a hunger strike at a Spanish airport, accusing Morocco
and Spain of preventing her from entering Western Sahara, local
Saharan representatives said Monday.
Dubbed the 'Saharan Gandhi,' Haidar defends the
self-determination of the territory annexed by Morocco after 1975. A
winner of several human rights awards, she has spent years in
On Friday, Haidar flew from Spain's Canary Islands to
the Western Saharan capital Laayoun, where she lives.
Morocco barred her entry, because she announced her
nationality as Saharan instead of Moroccan, Spanish media reported.
The Moroccan authorities confiscated her passport and put her on a
plane heading for the Canary Island of Lanzarote.
Haidar was forced to enter Spain despite not having a
passport, but was not allowed to leave again and to return to
Laayoun on the grounds that she had no passport, police sources were
quoted as saying.
On Sunday, Haidar launched a hunger strike, accusing
Spain of 'kidnapping' her in support of Morocco.
Haidar spent the night outside the airport after
being expelled from the airport building by police. She re-entered
the airport Monday, the Saharan sources said.
The Spanish Foreign Ministry said Haidar had entered
Spain with a Spanish residence permit but could not leave without a
Morocco's official news agency MAP Monday slammed
Haidar as a 'banal traiter' manipulated by Algeria, which has backed
the Saharan independence movement Polisario. MAP said Haidar had
denied her Moroccan nationality and disobeyed airport rules.
Morocco annexed Western Sahara after the colonial
power Spain withdrew from the territory in 1975, prompting Polisario
to launch a war which lasted until the UN brokered a ceasefire in
Haidar and other activitists accuse Morocco of
repression and human rights abuses in the desert territory.
International support for Saharan independence has
weakened as Morocco has refused to organise the UN-proposed
referendum on independence. Morocco is now offering Western Sahara
autonomy instead of independence.