November 21, 2019

Human Rights Award for Young Sahraui

Lallou Ernst
Lallou Ernst

Laila Fakhouri has been campaigning since early youth for the right of her people to self-determination. For this commitment, the 25-year-old Sahraui now receives the Human Rights Award of the city of Weimar. This prize is awarded every year on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day on 10 December. terre des hommes schweiz nominated Laila Fakhouri for the prize. On 4 December Laila Fakhouri will be a guest at the "Feierabendgespräch" in Bern.

Laila Fakhouri belongs to a young generation of Sahrawis, who fight with legal and other peaceful means for the rights of their people, which have been forgotten by the world community. Since 1975, the Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco. Since the ceasefire of 1991, the Sahrauis have been waiting for a promised referendum. No state in the world recognises Morocco's territorial claims on Western Sahara, yet the situation has remained unchanged for 44 years. In the Sahrawi refugee camps, where terre des hommes schweiz has Projects for young people supported173'000 people live in the middle of the desert. They are completely dependent on international aid supplies. In the occupied territory, human rights activists like Laila Fakhouri risk being arrested and tortured and disappearing in prison for long periods of time.

"While I can still speak"
Despite the threats and repressions to which Laila Fakhouri and her family are subjected, despite the physical violence that she experiences time and again and despite the constant danger of being arrested, she stands up for her people and imprisoned Saharawi activists as a trial observer, translator, mediator, activist and ambassador. At her place of study she supports other Sahrawi students against discrimination. On the constant threat of being arrested, Laila Fakhouri says: "I know that it will soon be my turn. But until then I will make sure that my voice is heard by as many people in the world as possible".

Giving courage to other young women
When asked what the Weimar Human Rights Award means to her, she says: "To receive such an award is important to give other women the courage to make their voice heard in society. Giving the prize to a young Sahrawi woman shows that we young Sahrawis have a say in our future and it gives us new hope for a peaceful solution". Only in second place does she mention what it means to her personally: "Such a prize can protect me. It makes it more difficult for the occupying power to arrest me or harm me in any other way. The prize will also give me courage and hope to continue my struggle, not to stop trying to make my voice and that of my people heard".


Laila Fakhouri as guest at the "Feierabendgespräch

Date, time: Wednesday, 04.12.2019, 18h15

Location: Alliance Sud InfoDoc, Monbijoustrasse 29, 3011 Bern

Registration wanted in dokumentation@alliancesud.ch or 031 390 93 37


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